Astronauts, engine drivers, firefighters, and dancers – this was something we probably imagined we’d be when grown up! You go on to become doctors, engineers, chartered accountants, restaurant owners and more. But enough has been said about finding passion when young and supporting it or nurturing it. True as this is, it’s not always possible to know what you wish to be when you are young. So how do you nurture the passion that you believe you must, for your child to be what he wants to be?
At heart, we as parents just want to give our children the best advantages we can and must start by realizing that passion and specialization or talent is not to be confused. The dictionary defines passion as a compelling feeling or an extreme wish or interest in doing something. As a young child, you can be as passionate about playing with cars or collecting stamps, or just coloured pebbles and smooth stones. This, however, does not signify that the child will grow up to be an automobile engineer or a geologist.
Often nurturing a passion is not what it sounds like. It just means encouraging them to explore their surroundings in a safe and interesting manner. When they explore, they learn many different aspects of the world and their personality. But more importantly, they learn how to explore and discover what they like and enjoy what they do. This will mean less confusion and dependence as they grow older. They will also be able to make better decisions. It also sends a message that you encourage them and want them to enjoy what they do.
As parents, we all wish to see children succeed at what they do. But success need not always be about getting the highest grades, the shiniest stars or the best performances. It can also be about enjoying the process, building confidence by doing something they love. Finger painting need not lead to great art. It could just be a way to relax and meditate as you grow up.
When passion meets talent or ability, it can be magical, and sometimes it does happen, but a child shaking their hips to the music, need not be a star performer on a TV talent show. So what can a parent do to encourage and nourish a passion?
Provide exposure – Travel, play, and read to the child, let them listen to music, learn about nature, play with simple toys - make sure they know about diverse things. The world is a beautiful place and must be explored.
Encourage free play and having fun. Not everything has to be a serious teaching moment. Give them toys and books that are age appropriate. Sit back and watch them play. There is no right way to play with building blocks for instance. You might imagine building a tower with blocks, while your child might just line them up and use them as a track for their cars.
Get the village to work with you. Family, school, and teachers can help you nurture child’s passions and who knows where that might lead.
Praise the process, not the product. A card with a splash of colour is as good as a drawing and painting. Let your child know that the journey and the effort are essential. Results will follow in some cases, and in others, they may decide to move on. As they grow older children will find their passion and interests along with their talent and eventually their vocation.
Children have to learn good manners and hygiene and keep themselves safe, but within reason, do not force them to stick with something they no longer enjoy. A child may love painting one week and then move on to building blocks the next. It is all good.
If you must push, let them know why and let them know they are always loved. Even Infants and toddlers understand love and support.
Tiger moms, elephant moms, cat dads and wolf dads may all be different styles along with helicopter parents and free-range parents, but make sure they know you love them, will always be there for them and are involved in their lives.