All Woman

Maximising your child's talents without the pressure

Nadine Wilson

Monday, July 30, 2012    

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IT'S probably fair to say that all parents want the best for their children; and one way of ensuring this is to encourage the development of their skills and hobbies from a young age.

Unfortunately, some parents kill their children's dreams from early by pressuring them too much, failing to make the necessary investments in developing their talents, or giving up way too early on them.

"Parents should not compare their children's performance with other children, because it can demotivate them," said counselling psychologist Lola Allen-Jones.

There are those, too, who figure that it's only necessary for their children to focus on education, therefore they are not given the opportunity to socialise with others outside of the school setting.

However, having your child engage in sporting activities such as athletics and swimming, music, dancing, art and craft and other such activities, are good ways for them to develop their social skills and might even help them to decide their future career from early.

As you strive to develop your child's talents, always bear in mind that talents are developed over time through practice and encouragement. Children are also very sensitive and so negative words can stifle their abilities before they even get the chance to fully show you what they are capable of.

"What will help your child to develop is when you build their self-worth. Encourage them for every progress they make and do not knock them, because some parents actually destroy their children because of what they say," Allen-Jones said.

If your child is to succeed at what they do, it is important that you give them your full support. Below are other tips for maximising your child's full potential.

1. Find activities to support your child's interest. Help to cultivate your child's talents by investing in classes where they can go to strengthen and nurture their skills. If your child is interested in music, you can take them to concerts to listen to their favourite entertainers. If they are interested in sports, take them to matches. If they are interested in art and craft, you can take them to galleries where they can take in the work of other artists.

2. Praise the process, not the product. Your child might not be the champion girl in swimming or the top performer in Champs, but as a parent, you should be their biggest cheerleader and make them feel super special even when they don't excel as much as other children. With sufficient encouragement, you will be shocked to see how much they can grow and develop.

3. Look out for their best interests. If you notice that your child has a strong liking for a particular activity, then educate yourself on various avenues that will allow them to further strengthen this interest. Sometimes the area they choose might be unconventional, but this just means that you will have to educate yourself more so you can better support them.

4. Don't force them to do something they dislike. Don't force your child to sign up for an activity just because your best friend's child is already participating in that activity or just because it is the thing that you are most interested in. Another mistake parents make is to force their children into something because they figure they are good at it. If they tell you they are not interested, then don't push them.

5. Talk to your child. Talk to your child about their area of interest. Provide a listening ear when they try to recount all the details of their session with their music teacher, even if you are not a big fan of music. Ask them about new techniques learnt or ask them to teach you some of the new things they were taught during class. This will help them to feel useful and build their confidence.

6. Encourage relationships with children with similar interests. By being friends with others who share their interests, your child will have others to talk to about their joys and challenges as they develop their skills. Their friends could also serve as a motivational force when they want to give up.

7. Encourage their competitive streak. Seek out various contests or talent shows where your child can show off their skills. Taking part in such events is a good way to get them to improve on their skills, especially if winning comes with perks.

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