You can see it now: And the Oscar goes to… your kid! Oh, yes, your budding Olivier, Mozart or Van Gogh has it all within his grasp. But do you have what it takes to clearly see your child’s talents without imposing your own dreams, expectations and, perhaps, disappointments on them?
If your child is entertaining house guests with passages from Les Mis’, clearly you know she’s got something. Researcher Bonnie Cramond, PhD, at Duke University advises parents that the best way to recognize creative talent is to provide children with opportunities to explore many types of expression and note their interests and abilities. “Indeed, motivation inchildhood is probably a better predictor of adult talent than ability,” says Cramond. “Abilities develop over time, but the tenacity to pursue an area of interest usually shows up early.” Encouraging talent When Cristy Rowe got a call from the school about her sevenyear- old daughter Emmie, she knew she needed to find an outlet for her curious child. “Emmie was tossing items down the stairs,” Rowe says. “The school said it was destructive behaviour, but my husband and I knew that we had a mini scientist on our hands. She wanted to see how fast things of different weights would fall.” Finding some science kits and helping Emmie conduct her ‘experiments’ safely, helped calm the craziness at school. Similarly, Elizabeth Chu knew her son Jacob’s artwork on her walls was not bad behaviour, but her own failure to provide him with the means to express himself. “He seems to have been born with a paintbrush in his hand. We found some classes that offer art to young kids and he’s flourishing,” Chu says. “We’ve even started him with a computer graphics package and he’s creating things digitally now.” Cramond adds that it’s not necessary to force well roundedness. If a child is passionate about something, go with that, but continue to offer exposure to many other interests without pressure. Be supportive, never critical (remember, they’re learning), but don’t over praise, either. An over-praised child might face bitter disappointment when they realize you weren’t wholly honest about their skills. Provide a time for their shining moment, however, and invite other family members to take part, either by asking questions about the child’s interest, attending events or providing more tools of their trade. And it is difficult, but never allow your enthusiasm for their interest to overwhelm them. Remember, it’s their ‘thing’. You get to be the audience!
Tiny Talent Time
Don’t expect your children to be your ‘Mini Me’. They will come with their very own tastes, talents and passions. If they do love what you love, you’ll, of course, be better prepared to help them nurture that talent, but if you’re in love with photography and they would rather put on a play, search out adults who are in the field that your child loves to see how to help them best. Provide your child with the time, space and tools to feed their passion. PC