What do you want in life? This is a question most adults cannot answer. But believe it or not, everybody is born with something special that they can excel at and with a desire for something in life. This desire goes unseen and gets buried over the years, and the older we get, the harder it gets to find.
If you grew up not knowing what you want right from the beginning, try to correct the mistake and make a change with your children. In order to avoid having your children be oblivious of what they want to do in life, start early.
First of all you are going to have to pay lots of attention to your children and observing a lot. Now if you do notice your child from the beginning, right when they literally start to become conscious, already having interest in one specific thing that you didn’t put effort into then that is wonderful. Watch and observe them doing what they like to make sure it really is an interest to grow (I will write an article about how to determine which interests to develop and which would be just whims).
Let’s say it is an strong interest that you have noticed in your children, then nurture it, let it grow, give them the support needed to continue. Provide them with the necessary tools and resources in whatever way possible. You really do not know what can come out of these children. Usually when children are set on something at such a young age you better believe this is what they’re going to be set on for life.
Children are so pure and don’t have any built up mental clutter from the stresses of life. When people are searching for their passion and they haven’t found it by their late teenage years, in order to find it, they actually have to de-clutter the mind. They need to remove all distractions and challenge their whole belief system in order to remember or to realize what it is they truly want. So they actually have to dig deep within them and go back to the basics to when they were children and knew what they wanted.
Therefore if your children already exhibit or show interest in something, regardless of your opinion of it, encourage it, because you really never know what it could turn into. Even if it doesn’t turn into something big in the future, you should encourage your children to do what they want, because at least they will be happy for the rest of their lives doing what they love, thanks to you, their parents. Even if you don’t like what they are interested in, by encouraging it you would still be doing a morally good thing. You are holding on to what they might not hold on to, or to something they don’t know they should hold on to, and you’d really be helping them.
Now if your child does not show interest in any particular thing, then start exposing your children to different things, take them with you to places, have them observe and watch different activities. Soon enough, by about the age of 5, you should start to see a specific interest growing, if of course treated correctly and patiently, with intention and purpose. Your children will definitely pick up some sort of interest because their minds are like sponges and everything they see and experience is locked in there. They will go over everything they went through, in their minds, and analyze what happened. They will keep what they were interested in or what they want, and discard the rest.
So when you take them to an ice cream shop, for example, and they see the ice cream machine working, they get intrigued by it. If they then ever ask you about it or if it ever turns up in anything they do or say, or if they ask you to go again to the shop because they want see the ice cream happen, then you know its some sort of interest. It could turn into an interest in engineering, it could turn into anything, and it’s not always obvious as to what the exact interest is at the beginning, which is why you have to really watch for those things. Some interests are more obvious than others.
My interest was in art. It started off as being my favorite class in kindergarten. I would take the homework very seriously. Then whenever my parents would take me to a toy store, I would automatically go to the crafts section and pick out color boxes with as many options as possible. I would always look forward to nay art shows on TV, and collect materials around the house that I could use to make crafts. Eventually I began taking DVD’s, when they first started coming out, and re-drawing the characters on the back (which were about 1×2 cm) on an A4 size paper. I doodled everywhere in my classes at school. Now, I’m an artist and it has been over 22 years that I have been doing art. My whole family did kind of recognize my interest and passion for art, but in this region art wasn’t taken too seriously, and still isn’t by most unfortunately. So when I went to college, I entered Finance at the beginning, and ended up switching majors 3 times until I was satisfied to an extent with the last one, which involved Design. My interest in art grew even more there, and I began to get interested in Architecture as well. Fine arts, however, are my number one; I have sold paintings, won competitions, exhibited in galleries, and done commissioned works, all alongside my studies and my work. Now, my whole family is very proud of my achievements, but not everybody has as strong of a passion as I had for art.
Some people start off with a passion but then if discouraged — which I was very much by the way, but persisted and persevered any way in art — would actually dismiss their interested and may even develop beliefs that it is wrong to begin with. No matter what a child is interested it, if they love it, they will succeed and excel at it in any way.
So pay attention to your children’s interest. For the kids who don’t know or don’t have a specific interest by age 3 or 4, start taking them out more as I mentioned earlier and monitoring their behavior. After taking them out you need to reflect on the experience with them, you need to ask them questions. Because sometimes kids do have interests but they remain hidden. Some kids are more introverted while others may be extroverts at a very young age. Some might be picking up information and growing interests but might stay quiet about them and do nothing to show or pursue the interest. They might be more passive, and they may even not know or realize that they have these interests. This is where you asking questions, reflecting on the experience, would come into play. You need to ask ‘recall and process’ questions.
Questions about the outing or the experience that would make them think.
– Ask them which part was their favorite, which was their least favorite, why so?
– Ask ‘why’ after every question. You need to know why they liked something and why they hated another.
– What is it that their mind perceived as “good” about the experience?
This will not only help you determine your child’s interest and the direction they’re going in but it would also develop a habit for them to consciously reflect on their experiences. That is a wonderful and very healthy habit to have, for self-awareness. I will talk about how important it is to be self-aware in another article.
Once you start seeing them heading in the certain direction, you not only should take them out to places but also start exposing your child to a variety of activities in the house. Whether it be gardening, you can bring them a little pot for them, or cooking. Help them plant a plant in a pot, or give them a piece of paper or a coloring book with pencils and colors (although there’s a lot more to it when it comes to art), or a chalk and a board.
When it comes to Art, you need to try different mediums — when I say art I’m referring to Fine Arts. It’s not a matter of just a pencil and a paper, because some children might be interested in paint or ink and not know it until they try and it might be like a whole new world opening up for them. So you have to try several options when it comes to subjects like these, broad areas. For example, planting is planting, whether it’s in a garden or in a pot, cooking is cooking, whether it’s baking cookies, or making a full buffet for a party. With these activities having a sample could be enough. You can tell from the beginning if the child is interested or not. However, when it’s a subject like art, there are many options and directions to go from and experience. That’s also the case with engineering for example, or even music. Take your child to a play or have them participate in one. Take your children to do some community service; even if they are children, you do it with them. Something simple like picking stuff off the floor, painting over graffiti, or maybe visiting senior homes and hospitals. Maybe they’ll get interested in helping others and helping the environment. Let them join boys’ & girls’ scouts. It will surely expose them to a wide variety of activities, especially ones you might not be able to apply at home, and earn them badges for things they achieve.
Art is an umbrella covering tons of areas, options, and paths to follow.
As for music, let them try any instrument you might have access to or any instrument available to you. If no instrument is available to you, let them try singing. Everyone has access to the Internet now, so they can sing to karaoke songs on YouTube. And if you do have the chance to buy them an instrument, you don’t need to get them into expensive music lessons. If the kid shows interest, the Internet is a great source to get introduction lessons for free. Now if you do want to get them instruments, they don’t have to be the very costly ones, you can get them a harmonica or a small drum, even a ukulele or a recorder. Anything they can make sounds and rhythms with will be great and useful to them.
There are always a variety of options of activities to expose your children to. The only two things you would be investing other than money — which many activities do not require — is your time and effort. You have to be willing to put those two in because you are building and raising a part of the future generation, and your children matter. Whatever you plant in your child will show up in the long run and affect the world either positively or negatively. And if you encourage this and help them, you are adding well to the world. You never know what your child may be capable of and what she or he can contribute to the world in the long run.
Once your child starts going in a direction support them in as many ways possible. Enroll them in classes to learn whatever they are interested in after they show stronger interest from learning online. Ask family friends or neighbors who might be interested in the same subject to tutor them, and most importantly give them moral support. Being there for them and encouraging them to continue and follow their heart would be enough, or the minimum if you already have enough on your plate, even if you disagree with that hobby or interest.
Keep encouraging them to keep pushing, to keep trying, to keep moving in that direction if it still makes them happy, and to never give up. Tell them they are going in the right direction. Be there for them morally, physically, and emotionally, and tell them that what they are doings amazing.