But when my children started their pre-teen years I noticed their self-esteem was down a little bit. After some investigation, I realized that I needed to help them to develop talents as one of the ways to help them feel good about themselves. As soon as I enrolled my daughters in gymnastics and my sons in soccer, their whole world changed and they really gained confidence in themselves. I also found that their ability to work was increased as they labored to become better at something they really cared about.
So over the years I have become a crazy busy mother, rushing around, but trying to keep it in perspective. I usually only let them do one music class and one sport class. At times it feels crazy with five kids doing ten different things, but I feel it is worth the sacrifice, in order to help my kids gain confidence. Here are some tips to use as you think about discovering your own kids' talents and passions:
- Let them choose for themselves, but instead of offering them the world, give them a list to choose one thing from that you feel your family is capable of maintaining.
- Try to find activities they can walk to, so you aren't driving so much.
- Use the buddy system, have older siblings help with driving or walking to activities.
- Let them change activities after they finish one season. Children need to experiment to find the things they love.
- Let them try things they don't think they'll be good at. They may be surprised.
- Give lots of positive reinforcement...not criticism.
- Don't be the parent shouting at your child on the sidelines. This is embarrassing to them.
- Instead of telling your child to practice, link practicing instruments to privileges. Say, "sure you can play with your friends as soon as you get your practicing and homework done." This eliminates the power struggle when you just tell them to practice.
- Start small. Let them join a local Parks and Rec program rather than a full blown soccer club until they are older. Kids change their minds a lot and you want to be sure they are really interested before you invest a lot of time or money.
- Younger kids need less activities than older kids. They need more time with you, so be sure you are taking into consideration their age level and their personality types (introverts will want to be home more than extroverts).
- Use driving time to bond and talk with younger siblings who are along for the ride.
These tips will really help your family as you journey to find your own child's unique talents and abilities.