Do you know a kid who absolutely LOVES dinosaurs? My nephew is obsessed with them, and I was the kind of kid who could describe a paleontologist’s job in great detail back in second grade.
If that describes your kids, that’s great news since a recent study found that kids who are obsessed with dinosaurs are smarter than kids who aren’t.
In the psychology world, this phenomenon is called “intense interests.” Roughly one-third of kids develop an intense interest in their lives but for most the obsession usually fades after the age of six.
A study from the University of Indiana and the University of Wisconsin found that an intense interest can “enhance perseverance, improve attention and enhance skills of complex thinking as the processing of information”, especially when the interest demands a conceptual domain.
Intense interests have also been shown to improve linguistic skills and are a good indicator of higher understanding. It’s also been shown that the way children study dinosaurs helps them develop strategies to tackle problems throughout their lives.
Interestingly, kids’ intense interest in dinosaurs develops in the first year of life without encouragement from their parents. As mentioned earlier, most of these obsessions pass and only 20% of kids still have the intense interest when they enter school.
Researchers believe that once kids start school and have to devote time to learning new things, they lose their free time to explore their interests. It is suggested that in order to keep your child’s interest alive as they grow up, parents should teach their kids facts about the subject as opposed to letting them have “pretend adventures.”
Make sure those kids keep learning on their own after they start school, and remember, if your child is obsessed with T-Rex, that’s a good thing!