When we think about our talents, we tend to think about our natural abilities. Some of us are good at math, some are athletic and others are more musically-inclined.
But what we fail to comprehend is that talented people in the media are the result of studious and dedicated practice. What we see is only the surface of progress. As consistent mastery of their crafts is the true determinant of one’s success.
Hence, the goal of parents, like-wise educators, is to unsheath the natural gifts of each child. In the eye of diligent consistency, any talent would be made a mere gift of coincidence. With just enough dedication, with just enough passion.
However, in the pursuit of unsheathing that talent, it could very well backfire. As a well-intent push of motivation would be seen as a mere disguise for parents to fulfil their agendas.
A child’s learning journey is very fragile.
Discovering your child’s talent usually comes down to allow them to discover their interest and find activities that excite them. But they will need help.
In this article, we’ll share ways to unsheathe that talent and most importantly to develop that gift.
1 – Allow Them to Make Decisions
Part of nurturing a talent is to allow children to make their own decisions so that they can build self-confidence.
Of course, this doesn’t mean allowing them to make big, complex decisions, such as whether to attend preschool or not. Rather, allow them to make small, simple decisions such as choosing to paint or to draw.
Although the decisions are small for them, it’ll help them discover their interests and dislikes. As they have the freedom to make decisions and discover certain aspects of life through engaging with activities, this is when self-discovery occurs. It’s when they learn about their strengths, flaws, and themselves as an individual.
So, make the big decisions in your family, and allow freedom for your child to make the minor ones. You may just find that doing so will lead them to discover their talents much sooner. This is because you are teaching them ownership. From that ownership, it builds their confidence to take action.
2 – Learn to Observe Your Child
As parents, we want the best for our children. This tendency can make us feel the need to tell our children what to do and direct them around.
However, to nurture talent, sometimes there are values in following them instead. Do you spend time observing your child doing an activity? We don’t mean watching them half-heartedly but giving full attention to them.
Observe what your child pays attention to, says and does. You’ll be surprised to learn what children can teach us about their interests only if we take the time to pay attention to.
Keep a small journal containing notes about what you observe. Over time, your journal will give you an interesting record of their behaviours, interests and changes as they grow up. Try interpreting what certain behaviour means and why they choose to do something a certain way.
Children usually don’t recognize their talents although they might pursue them instinctively. If you notice that your child is showing interest in something new, attempt to nurture it.
3 – Acknowledge the Generation Your Child Grows Up In
Children are shaped by the physical and social setting within where they grow up in. This means they might find interest in activities that you might not be familiar with.
Sure, maybe your child might not enjoy painting or playing a musical instrument. As a generation growing up with screens and technology around them, children these days might be more interested in technology.
As parents, we have to acknowledge the current generation and the environment they are exposed to.
If you find your child spending many hours in front of the computer screen, guide your child as to how her hobby can be a well-received passion, such as computer programming or content creation.
While older generations might think that it is harmful to a young child to develop an interest in technology, see it as a way to harness a passion.
4 – Cultivating the Growth Mindset
Children are born to the world with a question mark on their mind. Yet, by the time many complete their schooling years, they leave with a full stop.
The difference between a fixed and growth mindset is that a child with a growth mindset is more curious and open to trying new things.
Because they don’t give up easily, this means there will be a better chance for them to stumble upon activities that can help unleash their talents.
How do you instil a growth mindset in your child? Here are a few ways:
- Start by recognizing your own mindset
The way we talk and the words we use around our children sends a message to them. Learn to be mindful of our behaviour around children.
- Learn from mistakes
Instead of scolding and reprimanding your child when they make a mistake, learn how to model learning from failure. When parents talk positively about learning from mistakes, children will begin to see mistakes as natural events in their learning process.
- Praise the effort
Praising children for their smarts can suggest to them that talent is the reason for success. Instead, praise them for their continuous effort so that they see it’s their effort that leads to success.
5 – Encourage the Development of Perseverance
It’s easy to forget that talents are not natural abilities. To effectively draw out that talent, there will be a need for consistency and perseverance.
Grit and perseverance are important indicators of children’s future success. It builds self-confidence by reducing the fear of failure.
Here are a few ways to teach perseverance:
- Lead by example
Children learn by modelling their parents, teachers and people they spend time with. One of the best ways to teach perseverance is to lead by example. Try new things, allow your child to notice your struggles and yet, keep going. Show them the value of perseverance.
- Provide challenging activities
Have your child try activities which are not easy for them. Scale these activities according to their age. When they are on the verge of giving up, praise them.
- It’s okay to be frustrated
Understand that just like adults, your child can get frustrated too. Allow them to feel frustrated and remind them that if at first, they don’t succeed, try again. Over time they will develop and adopt grit-building habits, necessary to succeed.
6 – Encourage Mimicry
When it comes to honing a skill or practising a talent, modelling or mimicking people who are already experts might just be what your child needs.
We all can learn something from those who have accomplished our goals before us.
Whether it’s learning to sing, to play tennis or to paint, have your child model over people who have found success. Or better yet, have a professional or teacher teach your child skill sets that would be hard to learn.
Of course, when it comes to mimicking, the goal isn’t to be perfect. It is the effort your child puts into the task that matters. It is about making small incremental progress, that is meaningful to your child’s development in character.
7 – Provide a Strong Foundation
When helping children develop a talent, use every opportunity to enrich their understanding and appreciation of the subject.
If they enjoy painting, introduce them to different painting classes and bring them to visit a painting gallery. If they enjoy acting, bring them to the theatres. Doing this provides a strong foundation and necessary enrichment that children need.
Talent is only worth pursuing if it can also be enjoyed. This is why it’s so important to help children build a passion around their talents too. Being great at playing tennis would add no value to their life is they constantly find it difficult and boring to go for tennis lessons.
8 – Have Realistic Expectations
Yes, we have heard about children prodigies who started studying or practising an activity at a very young age. Most parents tend to expect the same out from their children.
However, realize that young children are not developmentally ready to think about their future and know what they want to focus on, usually until near the end of primary school.
Rather than rushing to find something they excel in, have realistic expectations and allow them to experience different activities. The world is a blank canvas for them and it is through exposure before they find an interest.
Conclusion – Every Child is Unique
Discovering and identifying your child’s talents and interests takes time. And they also change, sometimes quite unpredictably as they grow up.
As you observe your child partakes in different activities, learns from what they are doing and refrain from constantly jumping in to correct them.
At the end of the day, children are unique individuals. Remember, your goal as a parent is to be a guide on the side and a cheerleader, encouraging them so that they stay determined.