What parent isn’t curious about what their child’s future holds in an academic and professional sense? If you are like many parents, you want to support your child’s childhood passion and talents to help ensure they not only have a fun and fulfilling childhood, but a rewarding career as well.
Here are five tips to help you identify and cultivate your child’s natural academic and professional strengths.
1. Protect playtime.
Play is so critical to the development of a child that it has been deemed a right of every child by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights.
For some children, a jampacked schedule can become a source of stress and anxiety, so it’s important to carve out time for your child to have unhurried playtime.
When there’s nothing on the schedule and zero expectations to “perform,” children are free to delve into the world of imaginative play, where they can unleash their creativity. Few things are as enjoyable as watching your child’s imagination run wild while they play.
If you pay attention to what activities they love, you will learn a great deal about what they enjoy, how they socialize with others and the unfiltered way they view themselves.
2. Take note of their natural, unique talents.
Start noticing what they have a natural aptitude for. This could be a particular subject in school, an extracurricular sport or a hobby. Some kids may get labeled as quirky, but these behaviors are clues to what they’re strengths and passion are. Does your child always want to help you pick out their – and maybe even your – clothes for the day? This may be a clue that they have a passion for design.
Do they love to be the center of attention and be the lead in school plays and recitals? What we may label as showing-off or being a “ham” may be a signal that your child has a talent for entertaining. Sometimes the most unusual things signal the areas of deepest strength.
Do they love:
- taking pictures,
- helping you in the kitchen,
- taking care of others (babysitting or helping care for siblings),
- writing short stories,
- playing musical instruments,
- having long conversations with family members or
- solving puzzles?
Once you can start to Identify things they love, whether they are good at them or not, you begin the processes of unearthing their potential passions. The rational parent brain in all of us may be concerned if what they love isn’t what we consider practical or “useful,” but that’s not the point.
3. Get outdoors.
A recent study by the Seattle Children’s Research Institute discovered that roughly 50 percent of preschoolers are not getting even one outdoor play session outside of recess at school. On average, children ages 10 to 16 spend a mere 12.6 minutes a day on robust outdoor activity compared with almost 10.5 of their waking hours being relatively inactive. Only 6 percent of kids ages 9-13 play outside at all in a given week.
Evidence suggests outdoor play results in physically and mentally strong kids who are more confident and social. When your child feels more confident and mentally tough, they are more likely to excel at whatever hobby or passion they are engaged in.
4. Notice what activities they hate to stop doing.
We all have kids who love to do certain things, and when we tell them it’s time to “pause” that activity or stop it altogether, they pitch a fit. This is because they are in a feel-good “flow.” They are aligned with what their soul is nudging them to do.
Do they lose all track of time when they are drawing or painting? Your child may be a mini-Picasso. Do they enjoy taking their toys apart to see how they work? Sounds like you may have a future engineer on your hands. Are the entranced by anything having to do with animals? Possibly a veterinarian or biologist in the making.
These may all be clues as to what field your child may excel at in future careers.
5. Keep it fun.
It’s understandable that parents feel the need to highlight potential and begin creating a path towards their child’s future educational and career success, but try not to forget that they are kids and it’s highly likely they have no idea what it is they want to excel at. By reminding yourself to keep it light and fun, you take pressure off the child to feel like they have to do anything they don’t love doing.
Be aware of whether your well-intentioned support (aka hovering) is stifling your child and inhibiting the unfolding of a passion. An easy-breezy exploration is the best way for your child’s passion to surface. If your child senses too much pressure, they may quit a fun hobby prematurely.
One way to keep parental pressure in check by asking yourself: What do I really care about, my child’s journey or the result he or she may produce from the passion?
Elizabeth Pearson is a professional life coach, spiritual seeker, writer, wife and mother who specializes in getting women “unstuck” so they can achieve their highest goals in all aspects of life. Throughout her 15-year sales career, she has worked for brands such as Vitamin Water and Coca-Cola, as well as managing accounts for Amazon, Target and Whole Foods. Learn more at www.elizabethpearson.com.