Some children know what they want to do with their lives from a very young age. They know their interests, spend time honing them and eventually build upon them to forge thriving careers. Others take a more circuitous route to discover their life’s path. They try different hobbies, interests, and activities before settling on those that they enjoy.
If your child belongs to the latter category, you might worry that they’ll never focus on one area, thus miss out on having a satisfying life or career. Seeing other kids delve into their passions with seemingly little effort can make you feel the need to pressure your child, or worse, compare them to others. Unfortunately, this approach will likely not bear positive results.
So what can you do—or not do—to help your kids discover and nurture their passions? Well, here are some things you can try.
Provide a safe space for exploration.
Kids are curious creatures and most parents can attest to this. Most of us, however, worry that if given free rein, our kids will run into a lot of trouble.
Instead of quenching their curiosity, why not provide a safe space for them to explore the world and find out how stuff works? Such exploration might lead them to discover their talents and interests.
Encourage and support what intrigues your kids.
Part of being a supportive parent means encouraging your kid’s interests, whether you agree with them or not. Sure, you wanted your son to love baseball, but he prefers science. Or maybe your daughter prefers woodwork to fashion. These are the traits that make your kids unique, so support them and find ways to nurture those interests—as long as they’re not harmful.
Provide plenty of out-of-school learning experiences.
School is a great place for your kid to learn different things. However, providing plenty of experiences outside the school environment is an excellent way of supplementing your child’s education while giving lots of opportunities to find out what they love.
Trips to historic sites, exhibits, museums, etc., can plant a seed that will later bloom into a passion. For instance, a trip to your local observatory can spark a lifelong interest in astronomy and space.
Expose your kids to new things.
Your child isn’t likely to find out what they love if they keep doing the same old stuff. Encourage them to get out of their comfort zone by exposing them to new things. Enroll them in some dancing classes, sports club or perhaps sign them up for a summer camp. You can employ the “try it for a year—or X number of months—before you quit” tactic. This strategy will foster resilience and teach kids to stick it out when things become tough.
Finally, keep things light. Sometimes our well-intentioned hovering and nudging might put too much pressure on our kids, stressing them out and shutting down learning. The trick is to strike a balance between being supportive and being too pushy and overbearing. Go at your child’s speed and enjoy the journey. Your kid will bloom in their own time if you provide the room for them to develop.