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A study has found that a child’s obsession with dinosaurs is very good for their brain.
Most of us know a child with an obsessive interest in dinosaurs – and even a few adults (remember Ross in Friends?).
And it turn out this could be a very good thing, as researchers say that a burning desire to learn everything there is to know about the Mesozoic era could actually be a sign of high intelligence.
About one in three kids develops an intense interest in a certain thing or activity. These tend to burn out in six months to three years, but often appear to be borderline obsessive while they last.
Conceptual interests include learning about dinosaurs, planes and horses. Over two-thirds of boys and a quarter of girls are thought to have a conceptual interest at some point between the ages of four and six.
After studying 215 four-year-old children for two years, researchers concluded that having an intense conceptual interest in something like dinosaurs was linked with above-average intelligence, longer attention spans, better information processing skills and greater persistence.
They think this is because unlike, say, watching TV or playing video games, learning about dinosaurs is an active pursuit that requires kids to ask questions, read books and navigate their own learning pathway.
Basically, it’s the perfect way for them to develop the key skills they’ll need at school and in their careers further down the line.
Experts think one reason children develop this kind of interest is that it gives them their first opportunity to outsmart their parents and feel like an authority on something, giving their confidence a boost.
And because the motivation comes from them, the learning process naturally becomes more fun – not to mention less hassle for you.
So while it can be irritating when a fad burns out overnight, or frustrating when an obsession seems to last forever, it’s important to encourage your child’s special interests.
Fancy a trip to the Natural History Museum?