As the mother of a six year old who is already signing autographs, many parents have asked me what I did to develop her talent. Does she attend public or private school? Do I home-school or hire private tutors? What activities do I put her in? How did I first realize that she might have a special gift?
Of all the questions that I am asked, the most important is the latter. How did I first realize that she had a special gift?
This essential question begets the premise for my fundamental belief that every child has a special gift lurking within. Each person has an innate aptitude with which they were born and the challenge is to help them discover, uncover and bring this aptitude to fruition in a healthy and positive way.
If you would like to discover the innate talent with which your child has been born, ask yourself three questions:
1. What does your child choose to do when they have “nothing” to do?
2. What do they do so often that you have even asked them to stop because it’s starting to drive you nuts?
3. What do they do so naturally that they don’t even realize that they are starting to do it really well?
If you cannot answer these three questions, here is a suggestion. For several weeks (or longer hopefully) turn OFF everything with electrical cords, buttons, batteries and screens.
What does your child do when they seemingly have nothing to do? Do they take your toothpicks and glue together a bridge, or doodle all over every paper in their reach? Do they read books with a flashlight long after their bedtime or create stories about imaginary people and events. Do they carve sculptures in the butter cube, do they sing along to every song they hear or stare at the stars? Do they dance all alone in their room even when the moon’s not full? Do they write poems or short stories, play kick the can for hours on end, tap out rhythms on table tops, do magic tricks, invent science experiments in the backyard, play tennis against the garage door, cook fluffy western omelets for their little sister, fly kites, create bug collections or insist on styling the dog’s hair?
Each one of these activities suggests a natural direction which might indicate their gift.
Creativity does not blossom under the weight of a tightly knit schedule, so choose your activities sparingly. Maybe planned lessons work well with your lifestyle, but just making available the tools of your child’s perceived talent might be enough. If your child seems to like art, instead of worrying about the mess, get a plastic tablecloth and put out some art supplies. If your child plays rhythm on the wall, don’t complain about the noise, rather consider picking up a drum set for him and earplugs for you. If she likes to read, make a trip to the local library or get involved in a book and writing club. If they like to collect bugs, don’t hem and haw at their six-legged friends, find joy in knowing that you might have a budding entomologist or veterinarian in your home.
It is difficult to find our special talents when we are transfixed by modern media. Creativity and self-discovery are not inspired when it is spoon-fed by others in such a temptingly easy and mesmerizing environment.
Once the external noise is turned off for a good part of each day, you will be able to quietly observe what it is that makes your child interested and interesting; you will be on the right road to helping them, and maybe yourself, discover that special and innate genius talent that each of us receives as our first true birthday gift.