How to Help your Kids Find their Passion
Read almost any self-help book or parenting book these days and there’s a chapter or two about finding a passion and how to make sure you fuel and focus on that passion when making decisions. The idea that we all have a special passion unique to ourselves and hidden but waiting to change our lives for the better is trending in the wide world right now. Finding and feeding your passion has been hailed as a way to be successful, happy, and grounded in a world where everything is up in the air. Of course, you want your child to have this type of thing in their toolbox, a way to make themselves more successful, happy, and a way to escape into their hobbies and really have edifying experiences regularly. However, there’s not a tried and true way to find your passion, there’s no internet quiz that will tell you, and we aren’t born with it stamped on our foot, so what can you do to even help?
Keep it real, keep it focused
The first rule of helping your child find their passions is making sure that you are really focusing on your child and things they like and not just foisting your own passions upon them. While none of us would try to live through our child by enrolling them in dance because we always wanted to be a dancer, sometimes it can still be hard to see the line between sharing what you like and pressuring your child to like it as well.
It can feel a bit strange if you really enjoy something when you introduce it to your child and they don’t. It isn’t outright rejection but it can feel a bit like rejection cousin. To avoid the awkward situation it is important to do some soul searching about what your end goal is here, and it should be helping your child find what makes them happy. If you keep your goals and actions aligned you should be able to avoid this pitfall.
While a kid might like music, they may not like learning an instrument. It’s okay to try new things, but don’t give up on one interest just because the first idea didn’t stick. A child who likes music may very well want to learn an instrument but by chance or coincidence, the first one they want to try may not be right for them. Many a child has suffered through violin lessons only to realize later they really wanted to play the trumpet. Think outside of the box a bit and you may find a novel and interesting way for your child to explore their interests deeper and finally find their niche.
Children’s brains are set up differently than an adult brain, so having expectations that your child will find something they like, continue to like it until they excel at it, and then keep doing it their whole life is a bit unreasonable. Children’s brains are excellent at learning and experiencing new things, and their hunt for a passion has to take this into account. Everything is available, and while that may seem overwhelming at first, it’s really a great thing because your options are endless. Look around for new experiences your child is willing and able to try out, and let them do it. You may find things they really like and other things they really don’t and all that information is useful.
Low pressure, high interest
The absolute worst thing you can do is make finding a passion into a high-pressure activity. There is no set age for a child or even an adult to find their passion in life, while it may be tempting to compare to others it’s often not fruitful. Your child may go through many hobbies trying them out, liking them for a while and then losing interest. This is completely normal and expected. If you think about all the hobbies that exist in the world it’s easy to see that it may take a bit of shopping around to find one that sticks.
Be sure that you remain interested and involved with their process, sometimes by listening we can learn more than we expect. Your high interest in your child can lead to them feeling the freedom to explore the world with you, instead of feeling like it’s an assignment or a standard they must meet.
Letting your child have the space to experience and analyze new activities can mean listening more than you talk. Let them process things on their own time, and show you’re interested in their thoughts by asking questions that lead to more complex answers than a simple “yes” or “no”.
Know when to move on
While you don’t want to encourage an environment where you dish out the money for fees and supplies only to have your kid balk at the first sign of difficulty, it’s okay to make sure that you’re not forcing them to continue in an activity they really don’t like. It’s reasonable to make them finish a sports season, but it’s not fair to make them sign up for another season of a sport they just don’t dig, even if they are really good at it.
Make sure before moving on that the reason they want to quit makes sense, and that they just aren’t put off by the schedule or having interpersonal issues with their teammates. Often some adjusting may need to be done if they really like the activity but are still struggling to love the way it was first presented, however, if a little digging just leads you to the reality that they don’t’ want to continue, it’s okay to move on.
Finding a passion is often a lifelong journey for people and while you may want your child to start early and have enough time to really enjoy whatever they land on, remember that it’s the quality of time, not the quantity of it that really makes things special.