As parents, one of our most important duties is to prepare our children so they will be successful in life. One of the best ways to ensure their success is to help them figure out what it is they love to do and nurture that passion. Since children now have access to so many different opportunities, this can be extremely difficult and you may both end up finding yourselves overwhelmed. Luckily there are some simple ways you can help foster their personal interests and guide them through the process.
Try New Things Together
The first thing you can do is get out there and find a variety of new things to try. Most schools offer a range of after-school activities for students to learn different things. You can also check with museums, community centers, and even the local universities to see what kinds of activities are offered. Look for things you can try together. If you are new at something, your child will see you trying which will help them have the confidence to try as well. If it is something you excel at, you will provide your child the knowledge and the guidance to help them effectively approach the activity. Finally, if you do things together, not only will you have fun bonding, but they will be in a supportive environment where they will feel comfortable and eager to try new things.
Include Them In The Decision
When picking out new things to try always be supportive and encouraging even if they are nervous. However, if your child is scared or says they hate something, try to listen. Always include them in the decision-making process so you can gauge what their interests are and help pick things that they will be more likely to love. Also, try to listen to their everyday opinions. If they casually show interest in something, ask them if they’d like to know more or even think about related things they might enjoy. Simple things they say can guide you to helping them explore their passions further.
Let Your Child Be An Individual
It’s hard sometimes to remember that our children aren’t mirror images of ourselves and they may not always like the same things we do. In fact, our personal passion may be of no interest to them. Sometimes parents who are scientists raise athletes. So if they don’t like the same things you like, it’s okay. It doesn’t mean they are rejecting you, they just maybe have different skills. The coolest thing about these different skills is that even if we don’t understand the appeal of what they want to do, we still can help them by learning and participating in their interests.
Feelings Are Important
What makes a passion different than a casual interest is the positive feelings we get from doing it. So while trying to find your child’s passion always ask about their feelings. For example, if they are taking a pottery class, don’t just ask them how they like the class, ask them how making pottery makes them feel. If they say things like “free,” “relaxed,” and “excited,” you’re definitely on the right track. However if they right away say they dislike it, don’t necessarily take it as you need to pull your child out of class. Children’s feelings are quick to change and they may be saying that they don’t like something because they are in a bad mood. So have the conversation a couple times, before you take action. However, if you find that they aren’t inspired in some way by the activity, you should look at exploring something new.
Don’t Force It
Children may start pursuing an interest and find that they just don’t like doing it. This is very different than a child simply giving up when they are being lazy or when things have gotten difficult. So make sure that you aren’t forcing your child to do something they don’t love just because you want to make sure that they develop a good work ethic. If you find your child just doesn’t like something then try to find something they will enjoy and will want to work hard to improve. This helps them find their passion, but also gives them another opportunity to develop their work habits naturally, without being forced to do something they honestly do not enjoy.
Mix It Up
One of the things that keeps a lifelong passion going is always learning new things. So make sure that once you’ve found something your child likes you continue to offer them opportunities to learn more and develop new skills so they don’t give up on something simply because they are bored of the routine. For example, if your child loves playing guitar, maybe introduce them to bass guitar or banjo, or take them to a songwriting workshop. This way they can take something they love even further. Mixing it up also helps refine their passion. Maybe your child likes to play guitar because it’s fun, but they will really be passionate about composing original music.
You may have tried a dozen different classes, signed them up for every sport you could find, and you may have searched and searched but not found that one thing that they love. That’s okay though. Sometimes people don’t find their passion until they are much older. Think about how many people didn’t find their passion until late in life. Julia Child didn’t start cooking until she was 40, Stan Lee didn’t write his first comic book until he was 43, and Vera Wang didn’t start designing wedding dress until she was in her 40s. It may take some time. However, if you are always supportive, encourage them to try new things, and pursue their interests at this age, if they don’t find their passion until they are adults, you will have helped give them the tools to chase their dreams when they find them.
Also your child may not have a single passion, they may be interested in several things or their passion may be something simple like creating fun nail designs or knitting. So when helping your child find their passion, the most important thing to do is to just help them try things they are interested in and support and encourage them once they’ve found something. In the end, a passion is something that makes you happy, so whatever your child decides on, they’ll have a successful future if they are happy doing what they enjoy.