Today, your child is crazy about dinosaurs. Tomorrow, it could be insects, photography, ballet, or any number of passion projects that may strike their fancy. As a parent, it can be difficult to keep up with your child’s changing interests, but it’s important that you do. How do you discover your child’s life long passion and guide them to opportunities that will help them flourish?
So, here are a few tips that can help you discover your child’s passion:
By simply watching your child and listening to her speak about her interests, you can get a good sense of what she does and doesn’t like. For example, if she always watches documentaries about airplanes and does reports on Amelia Earhart, it’s pretty clear that she has an interest in flying. Pay attention to your child’s interests, even if they seem fleeting. Over time, you might see them develop into passions.
Think outside the box.
Passion exists everywhere, not just on the playing for field or in a music room. Parents have a tendency to lean on organized sports and highly structured enrichment classes, but passion can play out right in your own home. Building, knitting, cooking, and writing can all be done without structure and guided instruction. When parents worry less about resume building and focus on what makes kids thrive, children find their unique interests and are happier for it.
Use obstacles as opportunities
Don’t let the fear of “being pushy” hold you back from helping your child succeed when they face challenges and obstacles on the road to developing their passion. Statements such as “I don’t enjoy doing this anymore…I want to quit” are very different than, “This is too hard…I want to quit.” One is communicating a disinterest in the passion in general, which is a common discovery as children age and develop. The other is a cry for encouragement, motivation, and help. Do the research and find ways to support your child whether that means further instruction, physical or sports therapy, proper equipment or simply moral and emotional encouragement. Encourage optimism and give them the tools to overcome and conquer their fears or challenges.
Support them when the going gets tough
Your children’s journey in searching for what truly drives them may not necessarily be a smooth one. It will take some time and there will be obstacles and confusion along the way. It’s especially difficult when they have to juggle their passions while preparing for exams. It could be a big source of stress and pressure that may be holding them back.
Find ways to support your children. Try talking to their teachers, find out how your child is performing, and encourage them when they need help. Guide them through the process of self-discovery and give them a gentle push in the right direction when they need it.
Give him real choices.
It’s understandable: you want your child to appreciate music, so you sign him up for piano lessons. But is that really where his interest and ability lies? What if he’d be more engaged — and happier — strumming, drumming or singing? Or just listening, for that matter? “Kids are going to be who they are, despite who you want to make them,” says Fox. The key is to let your kid explore different angles of activity and to watch for what really grabs his attention. If you think your child will like them, start with piano lessons but tell him that if he doesn’t enjoy playing after six months, he can move on to another instrument. Or something else altogether.
Introduce them to people who have expertise
Find friends and family who truly love their work or their hobbies. Help your child see what someone does in order to pursue a hobby. This could be as simple as taking your child to a friend’s home to see his vegetable garden or as complex as visiting a museum to check out a collection of great artwork from a specific artist.