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Teacher assisting children at Silver Spring Preschool water play station in Maryland.

Good Parenting Skills: How to discover my child’s passion

Kids are great at communicating their pleasure and displeasure about most things: Ask a parent of a 3-year-old, who tries to get their child to eat their veggies, or allows them to take their favorite toy to school, and you’ll know what I mean. But when it comes to articulating their passion for specific activities, subjects or skills – that’s a whole different ball game. Childcare specialists at daycare in Silver Spring MD, however, know a thing or two about spotting a child’s passion, and tapping into their full potential.

Same…yet different!

When older children find they enjoy doing something – skateboarding, drawing, singing, stage acting, playing sports – they’ll typically speak with parents, teachers, or other mentors about it. Adults can then use their own life’s experiences to counsel and guide the youngsters in the right direction

The trained staff running silver spring daycare programs know that the mechanics behind passionate pursuits are the same in younger children, as they are in older kids – and yes, even adults. Like the rest of us, youngsters typically excel at what they love to do. But unfortunately, younger kids might not articulate how they feel about something – and there lies the difference!

Due to this difference, therefore, parents often find it hard to determine what their young child is passionate about. So, are parents then doomed to just let the chips fall where they might, and let kids just drift into whatever they ultimately end up doing? Not at all! There are strategies and interventions that parents can adopt to, firstly, discovering where the child’s passions lie and, then, to encourage the kids to pursue their passions to their fullest.

Baby steps to discovery

From their vast experience, child care professionals working at silver spring daycare centers know, that the earlier parents learn about their child’s passions and ambitions, the easier it is to help the child explore and pursue those desires. But, how do you discover the true passion of your child, especially at a younger age?

Some parents think that molding or nudging young minds, towards doing something they can later excel at, is the better way to leading them into a passionate pursuit. In their eagerness to “find out” what the child should do, parents might steer the youngster into various situations – like playing soccer or learning the piano. That’s a bad idea! The pursuit of a passion should be an enjoyable endeavor, and not something that stresses a child. Psychologists believe that forcing a child to take up an activity or hobby they are not comfortable with, can be more stressful than beneficial.

There is a distinction between “discovering” and “imposing”. The former is a less aggressive way of leading a child to embrace something they truly love and shine at. And, because young kids might not always be able to articulate what they like or dislike, the discovery phase requires a delicate balance of patience and encouragement. Here are some ways to help you in that discovery process:

  • Observation: Teachers and associates at daycare in Silver Spring MD know the value of cautious observation. Look for clues and “tells” that may indicate the child’s proclivity to some skill, task, or activity. Children, like adults, typically enjoy doing or indulging, in things that satisfy them. If your child predominantly favors a box of crayons, more so than he does a soccer ball, that might tell you where their passions lie.
  • Patience: As a parent, whose upbringing is in a sports-loving circle, it’s often very easy (and, sometimes, quite tempting!) to hand your son or daughter a soccer ball, and start kicking it around in the playground with them – hoping it’ll ignite a passion in them for the sport. As a parent, experts tell us, that you must resist that urge!

Why? Because your repeated insistence on soccer practice may project a sense that it’s what is best for the child. More concerningly, they may then suppress their true passion (whatever that might be) and, in attempting to not disappoint you, try their utmost to adopt yours instead. In time, they’ll undergo tremendous stress and never truly excel at the game – nor enjoy it. The recommended way to discover their passion is to have patience and indulge them in all reasonable endeavors.

  • Beware of false starts: The road to finding a true passion is often fraught with false starts. Don’t assume that, because your child favors sketching and painting today (or this week or month), it’s where their passion lies. A passionate pursuit is something that children gravitate to often, consistently, and over time. However, there’ll likely be bouts of indecision and switches in-between – and that’s what parents must watch for. 

Though a child may repeatedly gravitate towards a colorful box of crayons, it does not necessarily indicate that’s where his or her passion lies. Staff at silver spring daycare centers often give whatever a child is pursuing today, some time, and they’ll watch for signs of boredom or disinterest.

Finally, the road to discovery must include a large segment of natural abilities. Some children are natural extraverts, and easily blend into team activities. Others are introverts by nature, and may prefer more solitary or individual pursuits. Regardless of which way they’re inclined, it’s important for parents to foster their child’s natural talents, because that’s where the youngsters’ passions will follow.

Tools to foster a child’s passion

Upon discovering what your child’s passions are, it’s incumbent upon parents to then encourage them to pursue those passions. Child care specialists at silver spring daycare centers often use an array of tools and strategies to motivate young kids to discover what gives them joy in doing. Here are some interventions that you, as a parent or caregiver to youngsters, can adopt for the same purpose:

  • Encourage them: Once parents know (or reasonably suspect) where their child’s passion lies, it’s tempting to, then, immediately jump in and “take charge”. That’s not the right way to help them realize their full potential. In fact, there’s a risk to that “we know best!” approach – it might dissuade the child from indulging in their passionate activities, because (suddenly) they’re no longer his/her passion – but yours!

The better approach is to encourage the child to explore their newly-discovered passion at every occasion possible. For instance, if they’ve shown an inclination to drawing and sketching, why not take a pack of crayons and drawing supplies with you on that family trip. It will encourage the child to indulge in what they love to do during the long drive.

  • Challenge them: When attending daycare in Silver Spring MD, staff typically challenge young minds to pursue an array of creative, mentally stimulating, and physically challenging activities. If you think your child has displayed a passion for soccer, for example, why not set-up a backyard goal post and challenge them to strike the ball from gradually increasing distances.

By gradually ratcheting-up the toughness of a challenge, you’ll accomplish two things. First, each successfully completed challenge will give your child a sense of accomplishment, while doing something they’re truly passionate about. More importantly, though, it’ll prepare them for the real-world challenges they’ll face when and if they choose to pursue that passion.

  • Hone their skills: As a parent, you may not have the talents or skills to take your child’s passions beyond a certain level. Once you’ve ascertained where your child’s heart truly lies (soccer, music, cooking, dance), it might be rewarding to enroll them into professional classes that hone and polish their natural inclinations.

Signing-up a child for music lessons in a professional setting may, for instance, help them realize that, while music is their passion, it’s not playing the guitar that satisfies them the most, but the keyboard! And that’s exactly the type of varied choices that silver spring daycare programs seek to introduce to young minds. They may love drawing, but once they experiment with colour pencils, crayons, and water-based paints during arts and craft time at the center – they may discover where their true passion lies.

  • Involve them: Some kids’ passions aren’t meant to make them sports stars or prime them for high-paying jobs. They’re “passions” just because a child enjoys indulging in them, and it gives them a sense of satisfaction and stress relief. So, if you know your kid enjoys building “stuff”, why not involve them in your next woodworking project? Or, if they’ve shown an inclination towards culinary skills, get them to help with meal prep.

Getting involved with your child’s passions has two advantages. Firstly, it gives them a safe place to indulge in the things they love: Who better to ensure they’re learning critical skills about something they love, than a parent or loved one? But more importantly, if they share the same hobbies or interests as their parents (or other trusted adults), it’s an opportunity for bonding and relationship building.

Don’t give up immediately

Trained and experienced staff at daycare in Silver Spring MD know, from first-hand interactions with young kids, that discovering where your child’s passions lie isn’t always easy. In fact, kids are temperamental by nature and, sometimes, just when parents think they’ve identified a passion in their child – things might change!

That’s the nature of letting kids find their own way through life. Take heart, and don’t give up. Hopefully, the interventions, tricks, and strategies discussed above will guide you through the process of leading your child to discover what they love to do best.

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