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Encourage Your Child’s Natural Talents

No two kids are the same. You hear this all the time. You know it. You get it. And yet, when it comes to your own children, you still find yourself comparing – are they learning too little, too slowly, or even too much, too quickly (particularly in the case for your pre-teens and teenagers)? Are they learning the “right” things the “right” way? In today’s society, you are bombarded by social media posts letting you know that your friend's daughter walked at 9 months old, spoke in sentences at 18 months, learned to read by 4 years old, and on and on. And another friend’s son was potty trained by 2 years old, and had perfect table manners by 4. It’s hard not to compare or to feel you’re doing something wrong when your child can’t tie their shoes by 7 or struggles to read. Be patient. All children learn and develop at their own pace. Your job as a parent is not to have the youngest child to walk or talk or tie their shoes or read, but to guide them, at their own pace, along the way. They will get there if and when they are ready, with gentle, supportive love and guidance. Some of your kiddos just might take a little longer. Not only do children reach different milestones at different times, but they also have their own unique personalities, gifts, talents, and yes – struggles. According to Psychologist Howard Gardner, an expert in developmental psychology, children have at least seven types of intelligence, including:
  • linguistic
  • logical or mathematical
  • musical
  • spatial or visual
  • kinesthetic
  • interpersonal
  • intrapersonal
These types of intelligence combine to encompass three broad areas, which can roughly be described as school smarts (the first two types), the arts (the next three types), and people skills (the last two types). Your child will have their individual strengths and challenges, and will likely have their greatest development in one or two of these intelligence types. Observe your child across all types of different environments, and allow them the opportunity to explore their abilities in each. Pay particular attention to their natural abilities – what areas do they easily grow and develop in? What types of activities are the most enjoyable and what types of skills do they seem to easily learn? For parents who value or have their own skills in academics, arts, or interpersonal skills, having a child who is naturally drawn to different areas or skills can be particularly challenging. Do your best to support and encourage their natural love of learning in their areas of strength, while still assisting them to strengthen their skills in other areas. But be patient. If your chid struggles with linguistic or logical intelligence, they will require more time and patience and support to develop the skills they need to be successful in school, and they may never be honour role students – that’s okay. For children who struggle with musical, spatial, or kinesthetic skills, they may never master piano lessons or be on their way to the NHL – that’s okay, too. If your child struggles with interpersonal or intrapersonal skills, they may not enjoy being social or may struggle to understand their own feelings or needs in any given situation – and that’s also okay. Allow your child to blossom into their own natural gifts and talents, and support their development toward becoming the best version of themselves they can possibly be. And be kind and forgiving to yourself – for you have your own unique set of gifts, talents, and challenges that you bring to your parenting relationship with your child. Know your areas of strength and challenge, and don’t be afraid to ask for your own support when you need it – we can’t be experts in everything. The saying really is true, that it takes a village to raise a child. Find your village when you need it most. This will be particularly important to help you help your child to develop natural abilities if they are in areas that are not your strength. This might include Childcare workers, Teachers, parents, grandparents, friends, Coaches, or music teachers. But most of all, remember, every child has their own unique personalities, gifts, and talents. Sometimes it just takes a little time, encouragement, and patience to unwrap them.