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Teach Your Child to Understand Talent

John Fleming and Jim Asplund in their book “Human Sigma” speak of talent this way: “When we talk about ‘talent’, we mean those natural tendencies that exist deep within us. These are the aspects of our personality or behavior most resistant to change.” Put like this, our natural talents are fixed- perhaps even given.

Helping kids to recognize and understand their talents is primarily the job of parents and teachers. Children of course give us strong indications by what they love to do. If we pay attention to our child during play or when exploring nature, we will stumble upon their talents.

Does your 3 year old build tiny structures with trigs, or does he tap those twigs upon a stone to produce sound? Are twigs the object of great fascination when held up against the blue sky? Or when their layers are peeled off to see what’s inside? Observing your child’s preferences, communication style and response to their environment will give you an idea of their talent. Helping kids to understand their own gifts will mean reflecting back what you observe in them.

Preschool

Your very young child will be instinctively drawn to certain things. Some children respond to sound, some to sights. Some children need to handle everything they see, turning it over and around, perhaps trying to open it to see what’s inside! Watching your baby or toddler react to the world around them will give you a clue to their natural gifts and talents.

At this point in their development, preschoolers need to be exposed to a wide variety of stimuli. Time spent in nature will provide many opportunities for your child to explore the world- to see, hear, smell and handle things. Playtime with other children can give your child a chance to develop their social talents.

Mirror back your child’s interest in what is around them. Notice casually what they enjoy to do. If your youngster just loves to move whenever they hear music, they may have a musical bent, or perhaps it is dance. If they are fascinated by insects in the grass or the birds outside the window, you may be nurturing the next great scientific genius!

Main points to address:

  • Notice what your child is drawn to. What they love will indicate their talents.
  • Give your child a wide variety of experiences. Stimulate their senses.
  • Mirror back your child’s interest in objects and activities.

Grades K-3rd

This age child is learning so quickly. They may have noticed talents in others. By pointing out specific skills in people they know or hold up as heroes you will be informing them of the nature of talent. If they notice that Superman was very strong yet kind to his mother, they will recognize both strength and compassion as important gifts.

Children will begin to want to actively exercise their gifts at this age. This makes it a good time to start music lessons, learn a language, learn to play a sport. Kids may need to try many things before they gravitate toward a set of skills that involve their own talent. Trial and error is a part of the process of discovering your talents.

Some children (and adults) tend to have very focused talents, even bordering on genius. The girl with the photographic memory and ability to calculate and use logarithms in her head is an example.

Others have a broad, but not as deep set of gifts in many areas. Most people fall into this last category. Studies on the brain show that these two types of people have very different brains. If this is true, then we are wired and programmed for certain gifts and talents and not necessarily for others.

This is not to say the scope of what we enjoy and can do is prescribed. We are all given a choice of how and to what extent we are going to use our talents. Helping our children explore the world in order to discover their talents and learn to use them is perhaps the greatest job we have as parents.

Main points to address:

  • Kids may notice talents in others before they discover their own.
  • Children are learning quickly, making this a good age to introduce new things to learn.
  • Helping kids to discover and develop their talents is an important aspect of parenting.

Grade 4-6th

By this age most children are leaning toward one or more areas of interest. What they are growing to love will indicate their gifts.

Do what you can to satisfy their drive to learn more about what they are interested in. Going to the library, attending sporting events, volunteering to help out in the community play your child wants to be in are not expensive, and will serve to support and expand your child’s talents.

Children ages 9 to 12 must be constructively busy. If they are not engaged in something meaningful they are apt to become discouraged or depressed. All of us need to be doing something we love. Our self-esteem hinges in part on the knowledge and use of our natural talents.

If your child does not seem to show interest in any specific thing you may want to try some sort of community service. Some people, kids included, have the gift of service, which can go no where if there is no one to serve. Animal shelters, food pantries and community cleanup groups always need help. You might be surprised to see your child blossom when given the chance to truly help others.

If you feel that you may have a truly gifted child who has special needs in order to reach their potential, check out the many websites offering resources for parents of gifted children. You will have to monitor your child’s schooling to make sure they are getting everything they need.

Remember that every gift has value. We should never impose our own wishes on our children. They must develop according to their own bent. Helping them to develop their talents, even if it is not what we would have picked for them, is a great kindness and our duty as parents.

So if your daughter is clearly a gifted painter and she chooses to be a tattoo artist, honor her choice. If your son would rather coach soccer than play it, go with that too. Your loving acceptance of them just as they are is the best gift you can give.

Main Points to Address:

  • Help them to develop their gifts by finding an outlet for them.
  • Some gifts are social or humanitarian. Volunteering is a good way to develop these talents.
  • Every gift has value. Accept your child the way he or she is.

Resources
Resources that can help you in your venture include:

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