As you watch your child spend hours building a block city or memorizing cat species, you may wonder what this fixation means for her future. But don't count on her becoming an architect or a veterinarian just yet. Yes, tennis champ Rafael Nadal started developing his strokes by age 4, and by then Rachael Ray was already flipping food with a spatula. But on average, preschool passions last less than a year, says Dr. Alexander. Some of them fizzle when a child starts elementary school, where she is introduced to a range of topics that may appeal to her even more. In other cases, she may simply move on to something related (such as switching from dinosaurs to reptiles).
Despite this, obsessions can hint at your child's budding skills. If he loves doing puzzles, he may wind up being a math whiz. Kids who gravitate toward drawing and music tend to be more free-spirited and less concerned with how their work is judged by others. And those who love to memorize facts (such as sports statistics) are more likely to delve more deeply into topics and develop strong critical-thinking skills.
It'll be a lot easier to connect the dots in retrospect -- once your child is much older and has her career goals and life interests in place. For now, simply allow her passions to unfold and enjoy all the random knowledge -- whether it's about bridges, bugs, or the Titanic -- that you'll both soak up along the way.