Every child is blessed at birth with a special gift. She is predisposed to have certain likes and dislikes. There is something she is good at. Children have particular interests. It may be singing, playing a musical instrument, drawing, math or sports. They have an inner drive to explore and learn. They are self motivated to accomplish personal goals. Think about a child just learning to walk. He makes numerous attempts, fails quite a few times but does not give up. It takes a lot of patience and effort to finally learn to walk. This “I can” attitude, this urge to keep on trying comes from somewhere within.
Perseverance is a natural quality in all of us but as we grow older this early enthusiasm, ability to focus and the inner motivation to get it right, fades. However as a parent or a teacher we can prevent our children from giving up on their passions, from losing interest in what they love to do. If you look at the successful people of all times from Thomas A. Edison to Bill Gates you will notice that they did their thing because they love doing it and they didn’t give up until they achieved what they wanted.
Success = Passion + Perseverance
If your child learns to give up when things get difficult, he will not be able to overcome the obstacles in his own life. One of the most effective defense against despair and depression at any age is the “I can and I will” attitude. You can help your child develop this positive attitude during play time. You can encourage him to play the games that he likes. During rich imaginative play children learn to solve problems. Make sure that during play time your child takes challenges that are at or a bit above his current skills. Let your child experience both victory and defeat. This way he will learn to tolerate frustration. Praise him when he wins and help him deal with the pain when he doesn’t win. You can tell him little inspiring stories of people who never got discouraged like Einstein or if your child is younger you can make up stories using animals as characters. You can humor him or use some philosophy. However the best way for your child to learn perseverance is to show him that you never give up.
Children learn from you, how to deal with disappointment be it in your every day life, work or even being stuck in a traffic jam. It is not only the things you say or do in difficult situations but children can sense what you are feeling. Whether you are feeling depressed or determined, they will pick up the signal you are sending out. They will learn to react to their own problems by watching you. So if you want your child to possess qualities like determination, courage, confidence, perseverance, patience and the rest of the list, then develop these qualities in yourself first.
Another important thing to remember is that you should not try to live your dream through your child (it is alright to do so only if she is showing interest in the area you want her to pursue). Her inner urge to excel at what she loves could diminish if your expectations don’t coincide with her own interest and abilities.
In order for you to identify your child’s talent you have to spend time with him and watch him play. Notice what kinds of questions he asks. Tune in to his individual interests. Keep track of activities which come to him easily and make him happy. Remember these will change as he evolves. So watch, observe and stay tuned in as your children grow.
It is good practice to expose your child to a wide range of interests. Allow her to take part in different activities. A preschooler may not know yet, what she likes. Talents may not make themselves visible during the early years of a child’s life. So it is important that you let her explore different things, she will be naturally drawn to activities she prefer. Take her to museums, sports or cultural events. At home involve her in household chores or toss a ball around with her. However as she grows older avoid putting her in too many extracurricular activities and let her concentrate on those areas where she has shown true excellence and advanced ability. One of the most important goals of teachers and parents should be to find areas in which a child might experience mastery.
Timing is important too. Research shows that toddlers who learn simple concepts like one and many do better in math. If your child is interested in music then the best time for him to learn a musical instrument or other concepts related to music is between the ages of 3 to 10. Having said that, talent can be discovered and developed at any age provided that the child has a keen desire and love for what he wants to achieve and a “stick to it” mentality. When we teach our children how to develop their talents we also teach them the lesson of really working at what they believe in, they develop will power and learn that every thing is possible. They learn that in order to turn their aptitude into mastery they should keep at it.
If your child shows interest in a particular area, don’t just sit there and look at his gift as if it is magic, do something about it. If he is interested in music, save up for music lessons. If he is interested in art, buy him some art supplies.
Encourage him to develop his talent and to really work at it. And he will gladly do it because it is gratifying, it is what he enjoys. People who are leading mediocre lives are doing so not because they don’t have any talent but it is because they don’t recognize it or are too lazy to develop it or they gave it up when the going got a bit tougher. It is really important that our children learn to never give up on what they believe in. They must know that with practice comes perfection.
It goes without saying that you should provide good education for your children but make sure that formal learning settings doesn’t take away the spark of individuality and uniqueness from your child. Be supportive of her interests and hobbies and make sure to provide her with the tools to pursue them.
When you work with your child to develop his talent, you are at the same time building his character as he acquires the necessary qualities for success whilst working on his talent. One important point to remember is that you should make sure that your child feels that he is connected to others. He must know that he is being valued for who he actually is and not just for his accomplishments. Don’t let him grow in to an “accomplishment junky”, who is always striving for the next best thing and is never satisfied and grateful for what he has.
Talent development also helps in the development of spiritual character in the sense that we learn the lesson to “use” whatever gifts God has given us. Our physical skills are directly related to our ultimate spiritual development.
Assist your children to identify and develop their talents. Provide them with the resources they need to pursue their interests. Accept their uniqueness. Encourage their enthusiasm. Help them to be the best they can by discovering their true potential.