Giving your children’s talent a chance to grow

Wednesday August 28 2013
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Daniel Omara, 12, happily strums a bass guitar. His parents identified his talent early and are encouraging him to keep playing and even get better at it.

All children are gifted but often times, their talents go unnoticed because of their parents’ or caregivers’ hectic schedule. Sometimes, the child’s talent is recognised but the person who recognises it does too little or too much to nurture it.

Children’s talents should be nurtured so that they can grow up to have a hobby that they can enjoy or perfect. Children whose talents are nurtured grow up to be extraordinary and healthy beings. If you are a parent or caregiver of a young child who has talent, here is how you can nurture it.

Pay attention and show interest
Once a child finds something that he or she is good at, they will spend considerable time at it and will want to show everyone what they can do whatever it is. If the child comes to you at a time when you are busy, don’t sigh and emphasise just how much that child is interrupting whatever you are doing. Instead, kindly tell the child to come back at a later time, when you can pay better attention to him or her.

If you cannot give the child your full attention, don’t force yourself to sit with the child because it will make the child feel like he is intruding and he will lose confidence in his talent.

Make time for the child to show and tell you all about his talents. Maybe the child is an advanced reader, an artist or a musician. Whatever the child’s talent is, set some time aside each week to give the child your undivided attention. Giving a child undivided attention shows him that you care and want him to succeed.

Enhance the talent
Get the tools that will enhance the child’s talent. If the child is an exceptional painter get him him a paint set, if she knows everything there is to know about locomotives or rainforest animals get her a detailed book about the subject.

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You can also take the child to events that focus on the child’s particular talent or interest. If he loves art take him to an exhibition. If she loves theatre, take her to see a performance, whatever it is, let them engage in activities that will grow the talent.

Quiz the child and advance the talent
Ask the child questions about his particular talent and ask him to tell you more about his talent. Asking the child questions will put him in the spotlight. This might make some children nervous but many others will indulge in the attention. It will make them feel confident in crafting their talent, once they see that someone wants to learn more about it.
Enrol the child in a class that pertains to his talent. If the child has a special talent in cooking, enrol him in a child’s culinary class. If you are not sure where to find children’s classes look into community centres. Some of these centres have programmes for children of different ages at decent prices. You can also do a basic Google search to find classes in your area.

The don’ts
Do not push the child too hard. Many parents become so astonished at their child’s talent that they make the mistake of pushing their child too hard. An overworked child is simply not a happy child. You want your child to enjoy his talent not dread it.

It is okay to make the child practise but it is not okay to burn the child out. For example, don’t sign the poor child up for five classes a week. She has school and homework and needs time for a social life too. If you notice that your child is not having a good time, pull them aside and ask them what they want to do. When parents push too hard, their children no longer have talents but expectations that they must live up to. This is never fun.

Nurturing creativity

There are five basic areas that parents can nuture creative talents in their children:
Family: This is probably the most important area where our children need the most encouragement. As parents we need to communicate the need of encouragement of our children throughout the family, which includes siblings, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins.
Teachers: Make an effort to spend time and engage with your children’s instructors so in the long term your child not only learns, but is inspired to do so.
Friends: Find ways to create occasions where your child can interact with other children who have the same interest. This will help them build their own community for support as they grow and motivate and encourage other children as well.
Community: Organise and participate in your community activities where children can showcase their talent and support their community. When the community recogniSes children for their contribution, it builds wonderful morale.
Mentors: Mentors can be an accomplished person in your area, in the field in which your child is interested, a neighbour or family friend that your children look up to. Try to identify mentors (professional or social) and seek their help to nurture your children’s talent.

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