You don’t want to be the stereotypical parent who forces their kids to pursue their unfulfilled dreams. But kids don’t always know what they want. So where do you begin when it comes to uncovering your kid’s talents? This guide is all you need to be an ace at nurturing children’s talents.
Magnus Carlsen has held the World Chess Champion title from 2013 till 2023. Public literature about him says that his parents noticed his intellect as they observed him patiently solving complex puzzles as a child. His father put two and two together and decided that Magnus might be good at chess.
He’s not the only example of hidden talents, spotted early and nurtured by parents. Leonardo DiCaprio, in a thank-you speech at an awards ceremony, once said that his parents had to bear with 13-year-old him wanting to “go on auditions every day after school”
Talent discovery and nurturing are not only for to-be-famous children. You are your child’s first-ever talent scout. It's actually easy – but not effortless – for you to identify and fan your child’s interests and skills.
So how do you find your child’s ikigai, or something that gives your child’s life meaning and purpose?
We have the perfect checklist to assist you in guiding your children to discover their passion.
10 Ways To Discover and Nurture Your Child's Talents
- Listen to your child’s interests
It's natural to assume that because you enjoy art, or cricket, your children will have the same passions. But that’s one sure-shot way to stifle your children and push them into something they may not be interested in. Instead, talk to your child about his/her interests.
This doesn’t mean interrogating them about what they’re interested in. Instead, have general conversations that might tell you what they are interested in organically.
It is crucial for you to remain neutral and curious during these conversations. You don’t want to rubbish any of their interests, or (even subtly) try to push them in any specific direction. These conversations are about getting to know your child’s interests and likings to help them discover talent opportunities.
2. Observe playtime and study patterns
As a parent in today's world, it can be challenging to balance work and parenting responsibilities. There’s no shame in having tutors to help your children meet homework deadlines. Additionally, you may not always be present during your child's playtime. However, it's crucial to use the time you do have available to carefully observe your child's behavior during individual and group play and try to find answers to questions like:
- What kind of games do they prefer? What do these say about your children’s skills and interests? Try to draw correlations.
- Do they automatically tend to lead the pack? Maybe they’re displaying early leadership skills.
- Are they excellent at making a case about which game should be played in the first place? Maybe your child will enjoy joining the debate team.
- What subjects do they show interest in, and ask more questions about? (You can always ask tutors for more information).
- Are they especially good at something? Secret talent examples most commonly include having a perfect pitch, complex puzzle-solving abilities, and drawing, but could be anything.
- Provide them with exposure
Children need to witness a variety of different hobbies and sports before they can figure out what they like, and what they are good at. This might be frustrating (and also expensive) but understand that your child does not have the background and world context that you have.
Allow your child to try a range of different things instead of putting pressure on them (and yourself) to get it right the first time. Maybe you let them try the piano, and then football, and public speaking, only to eventually find out that guitar is where their talent lies.
- Provide continuous nurturing
Remember that your approval means everything to your child. Observe every little step of progress they make when they are exploring a new hobby and compliment them. Find the right balance – set realistic expectations and avoid dishonesty.
Here are 3 simple rules to follow when it comes to balanced praise:
- Avoid being critical. You don’t want to destroy their confidence before they’ve even had the chance to develop their talent.
- Praise them when they do well. Your praise is fuel for them to keep going.
- Be honest (tactfully) when they ask how they are doing. If they haven’t done so well on this occasion, you might say something like, “This is great! But you did better last week!” or “I think you’ve done superbly well for week 1; let’s see what you’ve got by week 2!”
- Support their interests
Once you have a handle on what your child is interested in, present them with more information and opportunity to pursue that interest. Allow them to get a closer look at their area of interest, or get them to talk to friends or family members who can tell them more about it, or let them have a little taste before you make them commit to it.
For example, let's say you have a child who shows interest in ballet because they saw a ballet dancer in a colouring book. You’re wondering if the child just found the ballet dancer fascinating, or whether this is an actual mark of interest. Maybe you could sign up for a trial class, or let your child observe a class.
It is possible that your child might show interest in something unconventional. A sudden fascination with reptiles, could be a good example. Don’t call your child weird under any circumstances.
- Avoid Helicopter Parenting
Don’t coddle your children; let them fail. Guide them when they are veering, give them hints, but don’t spoon-feed them because you’re actually doing more harm than good that way. Do you want them to be reliant on you, or be independently successful?
So let’s say your little Picasso-in-the-making has decided to participate in an art competition, and has a couple of weeks to create and submit their masterpiece. Sure you can help, and make sure your child wins. But what does that really achieve in terms of talent development?
- Teach them resilience and persistence
Let’s say the worst happens, and they fail terribly. Remind them that even the greatest individuals have faced moments of defeat. Encourage them to consider what they might have done differently and to try again with these learnings in mind. Give them real examples of people who they look up to (actors, sportsmen, even fictional characters) who failed, only to come back better and stronger.
Moreover, lead by example. Chances are that you already display resilience and persistence in your daily life. Don’t lecture your children , have genuine heart-to-heart conversations. Maybe you want to tell them about how your first few attempts at those pancakes they love so much, were actually total disasters.
- Be a positive role model
Take time to create a practice schedule for your child. This is essential if they are to excel in their area of interest. No matter how talented your child is at the piano, or on the football field, they might not actually develop that talent without sufficient practice.
Parents are the first role models for their children. Hardwire discipline and lead by example. Show your kids what discipline looks like. If you made a New Year’s resolution to exercise for 20 minutes every morning, be diligent and stick to it. When you display indiscipline and lack of commitment, your child gets the idea that it's acceptable to do so.
- Don’t limit them to your tastes and interests
Is talent genetic? Well, genetics do have some bearing on talent, but environment and experiences also have some role to play. Your child may or may not share your interests and talents. Maybe you’ve always found boxing to be violent. But your child wants to be a boxer because they had a mini workshop in school where they shone among their peers.
Perhaps you are the best dancer in your circle of friends, and your child absolutely abhors the idea of dancing. They’ve got two left feet. Resist the temptation to force them into dance classes where they might feel embarrassed.
- Invest time and money in testing
Genetic personality tests can help you zero in on your child’s personality strengths, scientifically. It is also a great way to filter through all the noise (like our example about whether the child is fascinated by the ballet dancer or actually interested in ballet) and arrive at your child’s true interests and talents. The best genetic testing uses genomes, psychometrics and astromancy to find out where children’s talents truly lie. You may want to look for testing that leans on the OCEAN model of personality.
Talent discovery and nurturing takes commitment
If you’re serious about identifying and developing your child’s talents, you must be prepared to put in time and effort, especially when it comes to discovering talents because this is the first step. One way to ease and quicken the talent identification process is to use genetic testing to get reliable answers quickly and scientifically. Genetic testing solutions like Genleap, for example, give you a long list of personality traits, as well as talents and aptitudes based on your child’s DNA. Once talents are identified, it is essential to provide proper nurturing to children so that they can pursue and develop their skills, leading to success in their future endeavors.