As parents we play multiple roles in the lives of our children. At the heart of all our roles is a desire to enable our children to grow up to be confident, capable adults who can excel in their chosen life path.
The building blocks for this start young in how we nurture their self-esteem, give them the confidence to fail and then try again, and specifically enabling them to discover what they can be truly good at.
However, this can sometimes feel a little like an elusive holy grail. How do we help our children discover their talents? And how can we nurture them?
The joy of developing a talent
We can all relate to that moment of triumph, that moment when we conquer something that was hard, excel, and are acknowledged for our achievement. These moments form the bedrock of our self-esteem, and even if that moment of triumph came from something innocuous, its power in other areas of our life can be monumental. This is particularly true for children.
It’s not just about the talent itself, although this alone may be truly worthwhile, but about what else it can bring to the individual as a whole.
However, rarely is a talent discovered by accident, and nurturing it takes concerted effort.
Discovering your child’s talents
The first thing to do is to help your child discover where their talents lie. Knowing your child, listening to their interests and letting the child lead the way will help to act as a guide, but often it’s a case of trial and error.
The best time to embark upon this journey of trial and error is during the primary school years. Not only are there are a plethora of opportunities available, but this is the window in which a child will be most open to being a beginner at something. They won’t be so strongly swayed by peer pressure, or believe that they ‘aren’t good enough’ to even get on the starting blocks.
The primary school years are a perfect opportunity to ‘have a go’. If you find the passion, the talent will then be able to flourish. Therefore, exposing your children to a range of new activities without any preconceived limits is an excellent starting point.
How to nurture talent
Author of ‘The Talent Code’, Daniel Coyle, spells out that talent isn’t born, it’s grown. It is one thing identifying your child’s potential talents, it is another thing to nurture them. Developing a talent is a complex mix of developing and refining natural ability through practice, motivation and failure.
Failure is central to how talent is nurtured. This involves understanding how the best learning potential happens on the back of mistakes, and therefore not being afraid of them. Mistakes provide children with the experience needed to fuel learning, especially when their effort, rather than attainment, is praised.
Talents don’t grow by accident either. Multiple-talented individuals, for example Andy Murray, have behind them parents who have sacrificed time, money, and effort to develop the talents of their children.
This isn’t so much about hot-housing, as encouragement. Children, in order to succeed, fundamentally need to know that the important people in their lives believe in them. Even if you don’t believe their dream is attainable, it’s not your role to squash their passion, and with it, the chance to develop talent. Even if it proves they can’t achieve their dreams, the skills and self-esteem they have gained on the way will prove invaluable in other areas of life.
The pathway to success
Whilst it is true that for a few children they will be the next big thing in their chosen talent field, the majority won’t reach the absolute pinnacle of their talent. However, success isn’t just about the destination. Discovering something you’re good at, learning to persevere when things get hard, receiving praise and encouragement, are all vital on the pathway to success in life. Fulfilment in life comes from having passions, and developing skills on the back on them.
As parents, grandparents, and caregivers, we are privileged to be able to help discover and nurture the talents of our children.