What can a child become GREAT at?

by Ginny Trierweiler, Ph.D., Parent Coach

New cover op 2When Manuel arrived at preschool at 3 years old, he was already identified with speech delays and considered to be on a path toward school failure. Fortunately, his teachers noticed his fascination with geography and maps and they followed his lead.  They nurtured his interest, putting out new maps as soon as he finished one. 

His  passion for maps caused him to develop his language–  he was excited to communicate about it!  He also learned various math concepts and developed his fine motor skills through working at maps.  By the time he left that school two years later to go into kindergarten, he was identified as gifted and talented.  It was very fortunate for him that his teachers knew how to follow and nurture his interests!

Many people would think 3 years old is too young to pursue an interest.  But it made a world of difference for Manuel. 

What can your child become GREAT at?  Something they are interested in!

This is because we ALL work harder at something that interests us. Think about something that you worked at for a long time, developing greater and greater skill.  It’s a good bet that you kept working at it because it interested you.

None of us can become great at everything. But we have the potential to become great at something we spend a lot of time working at. Research proves that children and adults alike work harder and persist more at tasks that they choose. 

Persistent work results in greater skill development, and we are more likely to work persistently at something that interests us.  How it works in our brains is that the connections we need to do something we do repeatedly become stronger and faster, and we get better at those activities, while the connections for things we don’t enjoy or do as often become weaker and slower. 

How many children never discover their talents?  How many adults do you know who never find work that truly utilizes their talents?  I believe this occurs, partly, because we are generally not encouraged to pursue our passionate interests. 

We can make this go differently for the young children in our lives!  How?

Don’t feel you have to guide or manage the young child all the time.  It’s too easy for us to inadvertently lead them away from their interests and thwart their initiative.

Observe them, quietly and without judgment, to learn their interests.  Slow down and notice what the child is naturally drawn to.  What holds their attention? (I don’t include screens here because they are both captivating and disorganizing to the young child’s brain.)

What do YOU do to nurture the young child’s potential?

This entry was posted in Babies, Child Development, parenting, Toddlers, young children. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to What can a child become GREAT at?

  1. Janet S Eades says:

    We can encourage parents to interact more with their child rather than use electronics as a babysitter.

    • admin says:

      Yes! I just think parents are stretched so thin with demanding careers, homes, and children. What can they do so they don’t need that electronic babysitter?

      • Brenda Wood says:

        TV can be used as a tool for up to an hour a day- what adult does not enjoy a little screen time everyday? Its when it is pervasive and a replacement for reading and cuddling and playing

        Let the kids play in the backyard by making it safe and well fenced. Leave books out as well as simple toys and crafts that kids can use while busy parents clean and make dinner. Some nights the kids will whine or cry but they will get used to the new routine and settle in. Go for a walk after dinner and the park on weekends. watch educational or physical programs where the kids are encouraged to dance – they will at least copy the movements

        • admin says:

          I especially love the simple ideas of a walk after dinner and dancing. All little kids dance; it’s great to make that a regular part of life!

  2. Anita says:

    I believe the more parent education we can provide, the better parents will understand what their children really need–less TV for sure and more “relating” and thus learning to “think”. Also, teachers and admin need to address these issues by holding group conversations for parents citing research and child development. I realize that parents are busy, but if not in a meeting format, perhaps in a regular newsletter format (with small summaries to entice them to read the full story!)
    With technology on the rise (sit in any public place and notice how many folks are on their phones rather than talking!), I think we need to help parents focus on “real” learning and the best development for their young children. That is, living in the REAL world rather than the virtual world at least until kindergarten!

    • admin says:

      I agree, Anita. How are parents supposed to discern between good advice and bad advice? They can use more ongoing education about the differences that make a difference with young chikdren.

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