Regardless of how old your child is, most parents want to see their child pursuing their passions. Whether it’s art, science, medicine or simply helping others, a passion makes life all the more worth living.
But when you’re dealing with a tiny human who simply seems to enjoy playing, all day, every day, how do you help them find that passion and then pursue it? The answers are probably easier than you think, and here are a few tips.
1. Pay Attention
Sure, every kid loves to play, but pay attention to specifically how your child plays. What are they drawn to? What do they like? What games, books, shows and movies does your child love most?
If there’s a trend, you could likely pinpoint your child’s budding passions. Encourage them and, even if the interest is fleeting or your child moves on to a new interest next week, you never know when a hobby or passing obsession will turn into a life-long passion and even a career.
2. Encourage Talents
Maybe your child isn’t necessarily interested in singing or acting, solving puzzles or engineering a new way to play for them and their siblings, but if you foster those talents, you could just find that your child develops a passion (after all, we all typically like the things that we’re exceptionally good at).
If you notice your child standing apart from their peers in a certain area, see what you can do to help them grow those talents.
3. Don’t Apply Pressure
As you help your child find their passions, one thing you don’t want to do is apply too much pressure. That takes all the fun out of anything and can quickly extinguish a growing flame of excitement.
Rather than pressuring your child to find their passion and getting disappointed when they don’t quite like what you thought they might, encourage them to try a range of activities and experiences until they do find something they enjoy.
Remember — everyone has a passion, they just have to find it. But pressure doesn’t help.
4. Provide Plenty of Options
Along these lines, if your child doesn’t try something, they might not even know that it’s a potential passion. Provide your child with plenty of options, in terms of toys to play with and books to read when they’re younger, and then when they’re older, in terms of extracurricular activities and experiences.
Don’t limit them to whatever’s offered at their school, or the quickest activity you can find with a quick Google search. Instead, seek out plenteous options, so they can try a little bit of everything. Who knows? You might just find that your child has a knack and passion for the tuba or botany, animal husbandry or aviation.
5. Be Positive
When it comes to your child finding their passion, there are many instances and ways where negativity can creep in. Remain that positive, guiding light in your child’s life.
If they fail at something they love, remind them that they can always try again. If someone else is better at a certain skill, remind them that it doesn’t matter. Be optimistic and encouraging, regardless of the situation.
6. Keep Your Opinions to Yourself
Don’t really care for your child’s interests or growing passions? Keep your opinion to yourself.
Don’t tell them that you’ve never liked drummers, so you’d rather them not be one. Don’t tell them that you always wanted to be an Olympic gymnast, so why can’t they just give that a try, rather than lacrosse.
Your job as a parent is to be supportive and encouraging, not to impose your opinions on your child’s choices for their passions.
7. Lead By Example
Actively showing your child how you pursue your own passions and the meaning you find in them can help encourage them to pursue their passions on their own time. Maybe you tell them that you’ve always loved piano, but never really learned, so now you’re taking a class (showing them that it’s okay to learn something new, no matter your age). Maybe you share with them how much meaning you find in your day-to-day job, and why you spend so much time dedicated to it.
Whatever your passion, show it off.
8. Make Introductions
Don’t share your child’s interests? That’s okay! Find someone who does. Finding another adult who’s already succeeding in a similar passion can not only help you figure out how to best support your child, but they may also be able to act as a mentor for your child in some capacity.
9. Stay Engaged
Don’t just identify a potential passion, sign your child up for a class and then think you’re done with your job.
Continue the passion conversation for the rest of your child’s life — it’s a sure way to help them find their own happiness and fulfillment, regardless of age.