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My 10-Year-Old Shows No Interest in Extracurricular Activities


​I have a 10-year-old son who shows no interest in any outside activities such as sports or drawing or music. How do I help my son find an activity that will spark some interest in him?


10-yr-old boy

Thank you so much for emailing in today. Yes, it would be great if you had a hint about what your son likes, is curious about or seems to be good at. One thing to consider is whether he used to be interested in activities but no longer is because something happened or changed. If this is the case, you may need to see if something is going on that is interfering with his ability to find joy in activities kids usually like. Possibilities include regular pre-teen hormones, depression or something traumatic like trouble with friends or making a transition due to a move.

Another idea would be to assess whether he has too much "screen" time. Overuse of technology is one of the biggest problems we hear about from parents. Kids are on it for hours, and it interferes with their ability to sleep, socialize with others face-to-face and get exercise. Sometimes kids lose interest in other activities because they have turned to technology to feed their interests. If this is the case, start limiting you son's screen time immediately. For example, if he plays video games for 30 minutes a day, have him to do something physical outside like riding his bike, walking the pet, playing in a pick-up kickball game or doing a chore that involves physical labor, for the same amount of time.

Also, take notice of what he is doing when he seems the happiest. It could be when he is outside, watching younger siblings, helping you cook in the kitchen or playing with his toy cars! Take a look at what he likes to read; it may be comic books, short mystery books or nonfiction stories. Ask him when he feels the happiest. Even if he says it's when he's in his own bedroom, you could suggest that he work on a project there, like rearranging furniture, painting an accent wall with you or creating a cool hang-out corner that he can share with a friend.

Sometimes there are activities like chores he might not want to do. Give him some choices and let him be part of the decision. (As a parent, you sometimes have to give a gentle push.) Just embrace his talents even if his interests are very different from those of the other children in your family.

One of my sons, who is about your son's age, asked us one day, "Why is everything our family does about sports?" Guess what? The next week, we signed him up for piano lessons – true story.

Your son will eventually find his passion, so love him through it.