The famous Maya Angelou made this profound statement: “People may forget what you say to them, but they will never forget how you make them feel.” I like to think of this in reference to our kids.
As our kids learn and grow, their interests and minds change very frequently, they want to be ballet dancers on Sunday and karate fighters on Monday (I mean it lol). However, one thing remains the same, their passion.
Kids see endless possibilities. They find a reason to keep learning and exploring. When they face obstacles or hit bottom, their resilience drives them to victory. Nurturing our kids' passion at an early age teaches them independence, determination and self-control. Most importantly, it makes them feel loved.
Helping our kids figure out their passion; not ours.
A quick tip: nagging our kids to become like us or become doctors or lawyers does not really work, and if it did, they are going to blame us for pushing them down a path if they end up not liking the chosen path when they become old enough.
We need to accept and appreciate the fact that our kids are different from us. Our children need our unconditional acceptance to feel self-worthy and become who they truly are. If our children are lucky, they'll know what they love to do at a young age. However, we are not going to sit around and wait for ‘luck’ to show up. Let's see how we can help our kids finding their passion in life:
One of the keys to understanding our children is observing them. By simply watching what they do and enjoy and how they interact with peers, we get a good sense of what they like and don't like.
I remember my brother's behavior when he was 10-years old. He was obsessed with electronics and how they work; he would unscrew and dismantle his games out of curiosity to know how they move and make noises. Instead of punishing him, my father registered him in a technology camp. He is now a programmer, and people ask him for tech advice all the time!
- Ask questions
Our kids crave information -that's why they ask questions all the time, even on days we only manage to get3-hours of sleep (Seriously:)). It's healthy to turn the tables from time to time and ask them questions. Asking our children questions helps us comprehend what's going on in their dreamy minds and expand their views. Questions are fun for us, too! Listening to their answers brings us a burst of great laughter which encourages them to open up to us even more ;)!
- Entertaining questions to ask kids:
- If you could be invisible for one day only, what would you do?
- If you were a book, what would your title be?
- What was your favorite part of your school day?
- Would you rather understand what animals say or have them understand what you say?
- How far away is the moon?
- What do you think those people feel? (This is a powerful one!)
- Why did you decide to draw that picture?
- Sounds fun, isn't it?
- Expose them to many opportunities and activities.
Visiting different places with our kids improves their knowledge and introduces them to creators and more interests. It doesn’t always have to be visiting other countries. Museums, libraries, the zoo, natural and historical places and even grocery stores teach our kids about the world around them.
Supporting Their passion: how to provide encouragement, not pressure.
- Avoid overthinking our kids’ passion
Thinking about our child's passion all the time could be detrimental, not only for us but for them, too. Setting expectations that our children will be like us or fulfill our unfulfilled dreams will put our kids under undue pressure.
Believe me, if they did not meet these expectations (and we should be OK with this, because they have their own personality), they'd feel like they are a disappointment and that's the last thing we want to do.
- Nurture their interests
Letting our kids be kids and do what they want to do without judging is the greatest way to support them. Introducing them to activities related to their interests, whether they are TV shows, educational outings, or games. If a kid likes animals, for example, why not take them to the zoo more often? Or read some books about animals together. Ask them what is your favorite animal and why?
Finally, we should aim at providing a supportive environment to our kids, so they would feel comfortable and confident while exploring and learning. Listening to them and respecting their choices will let them show us their unique personality and who they really are.