Saturday June 14 2014

Guiding your child to their talent

By Mathias Wandera

Today, club soccer stars are pushing big bucks down their pockets all thanks to their natural aptitude of being able to beautifully play around with a round piece of leather. Musicians are among the richest people on the planet, and so are athletes. Clearly, all these people are living proof to the fact that talent pays.

The good news is that everyone is blessed with a gift or talent. Yes, even your dear child. They just have to identify what it is and thereby get down to developing it for the better. And this is where your full support and guidance as a parent is needed.

Scientifically, the best time to develop your child’s brain is before they are 12. This implies that a talent horned early in a child’s life is more likely to pay off.

A case in point
Norah Tukamushaba, a mother of five, says of spotting a child’s talent: “All you need to do is to be there, observe, talk to them, listen to what they have to say.” She is quick to sight an example of Clare, her 21-year-old daughter who has started a very promising career in the fashion business.

“Right from the start, she was obsessed with fashion, fussy about her dress code. I would at times buy her dresses only for her to mess them up; slit this, patch that up… to make them her way, and in the process destroying them. And look now; my Clare has come up with her own brand, C-Trends, and she is making some good money out of her beautiful designs before she even completes her Bachelors in Business Administration.
And with the progress she is making, I doubt she will ever have to go job hunting,” Tukamushaba proudly narrates.

Identifying their talent
Joseph Musaalo, a counsellor at Uganda Christian University, says, the first step to identifying a child’s talent is exposing them to many activities so as to create a wider sample space for the child to make their rightful pick. “It is only right that the child gets an opportunity in various fields because the more the number of different activities they participate in, the easier it will be for you to come up with a vivid idea of what this child is talented at,” explains Musaalo. He adds that you, therefore, need to be very observant.

Also, note the child’s areas of interest. If they are showing interest and passion in the fields you think they are talented in, well and good. But Musaalo notes that often children tend to misplace their interests. For instance, while they may be clearly good at sport, they could be choosing to sing, which they may not be so good at.
“This is where parental guidance is of great essence because interest without talent is usually a waste of time. Let them engage in what interests them, but also encourage them to keep at what they are good at,” tips the counsellor. Make sure it does not seem like you are forcing them into anything.

Musaalo says the foundation of talent development is support, which includes verbal encouragement, motivation and financial backing. “Even your presence and participation is a form of support. Taking time off to go to a basketball game and watch your child play will mean more than a thousand words,” adds Musaalo.

So, once you have found out that particular gift your little one is blessed with, it is time to water the seed lest it will not grow to bear fruit.

The error
Unfortunately, it is common practice for parents to force their children to completely focus on academics at the expense of their natural gifts or talent, an act Joseph Musaalo, a counsellor, attributes to the colonial mentality.

“Many parents want their children to become lawyers, doctors, engineers, and all those traditional “big” professions. To them, if a child becomes a musician, they are a disgrace to the family, “ notes Musaalo. But, as Musaalo points out, there is nothing that can stop an engineer from singing or a doctor from dancing. Your child can be so much more with your blessing and support.