10 Ways to Unleash Your Child’s Talents
Sept. 4, 2018
When most of us think about our talents, we often gravitate toward what we think of as our own natural abilities. Some of us are naturally more athletic, better in math, art, or maybe we’re more musically inclined than others. What we don’t often think about is the fact that talent is built, not born. What we can’t see when we watch our favorite musicians perform on TV is the sheer number of hours of hard work and practice that was put in before that superstar became a household celebrity.
Likewise, when it comes to our own children, we tend to seek out their natural abilities, and encourage them to embrace those skills, whether they want to or not. This can backfire, and even discourage our little ones before they can find their true passion.
If you’re trying to learn how to discover your child’s talent, the secret lies in allowing kids to discover their interests and finding those activities that excite them like no other. From there, kids learn the determination and perseverance needed to become precisely what they want to be. Let’s take a deeper look at 10 no-nonsense ways to uncover your child’s talents.
No rushing, no pressure
One mistake that some parents make is signing kids up for a host of different activities, from Girl Scouts to the travelling soccer league, merely hoping that something “sticks”. It’s often said and criticized in today’s media and parenting blogs that kids sometimes have too many activities on their plate, and end up feeling pressured into maintaining a busy schedule filled with competitions, meets, recitals, and more! This can affect your child’s grades in school, or even worse, their health.
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Instead of competing with the other kids on the block, avoid pressuring your child into many different activities, and find out what it is your child is really passionate about. Once your child picks an activity, whether it’s playing piano, or joining the city swim team, don’t rush your child to learn the skill or become the best. Support your child, but remember that being pushy can be discouraging.
Appreciate your child’s generation
If you’re still struggling on how to find your child’s talent, look no further than today’s world. Your child might not like to paint or play an instrument. Perhaps she isn’t interested in ballet, tee ball, or even The Scouts. Today’s kids are more immersed in technology than ever before, and if you find yourself frustrated that your child simply wants to sit around and stare at a screen, use that to full advantage by flipping a current interest into a passion that could be explored.
More kids today are learning how to code through programming classes designed specifically for kids. Why not embrace your child’s internet generation? While older generations may complain that kids today have never experienced life before technology, it can be harnessed to motivate children to find their passion. Instead of thinking about what you or your parents did as a child, think more like a kid today, and fully embrace the current culture.
It’s okay to make mistakes
After choosing an activity or two to take on, it’s easy for kids to become frustrated if they don’t learn the skill fast enough. For instance, learning to play the drum set doesn’t happen overnight. Many hours of lessons and practice over a period of years are needed for your child to sound more like a real drummer.
To teach your child about long-term goals and rewards, reinforce the idea that as people, we all learn from our mistakes. Failure is necessary for growth, and once your child internalizes this essential life lesson, he or she will realize that mistakes are an opportunity for making strides ahead. In turn, your child will develop resiliency and confidence in any endeavor.
Foster a healthy parent-child relationship
As parents, we all want to support our children in the best possible way, but it’s easy to let rules, discipline, and the everyday grind get in the way of allowing kids to work toward fulfilling their dreams. That’s why it’s critical that parents build a healthy relationship with their kids that is based on loving support, rather than becoming annoyed at mistakes and setbacks.
Simply remaining calm during setbacks and conflicts reinforce your child’s trust in you and bolsters a safe space for learning. By showing your child that you accept him and love him even when he makes mistakes, sets the stage for continued growth. Praise your child for ongoing efforts, even if it seems that your child is progressing slower than expected or hoped for.
Encourage the development of grit
Don’t forget that talents are not those natural abilities we’re born with. To bring out any kid’s talent, it’s important to reinforce the hard work, determination, and perseverance it takes to develop a skill.
Grit has been a buzzword in education for years now, and it is said that possessing it can be one of the biggest factors that determines lifelong success. Grit is all about showing resiliency, overcoming obstacles, and never giving up. Teach your child that their talents must be honed and strengthened through practice and perseverance. Check out 6 best apps to support your gifted and talented learner.
Be open to your child’s ideas and aspirations
Sometimes as parents, we hope that our children will follow in our footsteps, choosing some of the same activities and aspirations that we undertook when we were young. However, we can’t expect that our children are carbon copies of ourselves. Not only is our world today different from the one we grew up in, but our children have their own unique interests and passions.
When determining how to discover your child’s talent, step back and let your child lead the way. Be open to the ideas your child proposes, and if it’s in reason, explore each possibility to uncover your child’s true interests. Your child will be happier in the end, and even if your child’s talent isn’t something that would naturally interest you, take pride in his individuality.
Praise effort and successes without gloating over natural abilities
Since talents need to be worked at, sharpened, and honed, it’s important to praise your child’s efforts each step of the way. Sure, many kids are born with a natural aptitude for certain subjects or topics. Some kids really are naturally better at math than others.
However, it’s important to avoid praising kids for those natural abilities they possess. Kids didn’t ask to be born naturally better at anything. Just like someone’s physical appearance, a natural talent is not something anyone could take credit for. Instead, praise your child’s effort and hard work, and build your child’s confidence and stamina for developing a skill. As a result, your child will unleash his or her talent, while also building a positive character trait.
Practice progress, not perfection
We all remember the old idiom, “practice makes perfect”, but it isn’t one we should take to heart. While practicing our skills and talents help to improve our abilities, sometimes practice yields progress at a slow pace. Sometimes kids need to practice to identify mistakes to correct to improve whatever it is they’re working on. Other times, kids practice and become frustrated if they feel they are not improving fast enough.
Encourage your child to keep going by reinforcing the idea that a lot of practice is needed to improve an ability or skill. Make sure to check your own expectations, and remember that your child is working at a long-term goal, and that perfection is never the goal.
Encourage mimicry to learn skills and respect others
When we think of a copycat, we usually hold a negative view of those who mimic or copy others. But when it comes to practicing a talent or learning a skill, mimicking experts or mentors might just be what your child needs the most.
There’s nothing wrong with looking up to a mentor or a figure that your child respects. In fact, we all have something to learn from those who have accomplished our goals before us. Help your child to understand that mimicry does not necessarily mean cheating. For instance, if your child is learning to play tennis, watching a tennis coach or professional can teach her important moves that would be impossible to learn if not for careful observation.
Stand back and watch your child blossom
Lastly, and most importantly, once your child discovers their talents, step aside and watch your child flourish! Stand back and let your child practice and grow and his or her own rate. Listen to your child, and be the “guide on the side” they need to stay determined and motivated. Avoid criticism, and offer comfort and support as needed.
Learning how to discover your child’s talent can take some time to reveal potential ideas, abilities, and interests. Never forget that building a talent allows kids to learn from their mistakes and find a path to success while following their dreams. Throughout this process, kids build resiliency, confidence, and the tools they need to find lifelong success and happiness!