Dr. Shefali Tsabary, author of The Conscious Parent wrote in her book “children carry a blueprint within them, they are often already in touch with who they are and what they want to be in the world. We are chosen as their parents to help them actualize this. The trouble is that if we don’t pay close attention to them, we rob them of their right to live out their destiny.”
I was recently lucky to speak to Dr. David Gotlib, a child psychologist and professor at Stanford University who has been studying children's intelligence for over thirty years. According to Dr. Gotlib, every child is born with different intelligence and talent that should be nurtured and developed, just like a garden.
Encouraging your child with their talents
"If a child is gifted in music, that is wonderful and should be encouraged. The same goes for children who are talented at sports or art. Our job as parents & guardians is to encourage them on their unique path, not try to change their interests because of societal expectations." Dr. Gotlid adds.
For me, I think it's worth echoing that just because a child has an interest or talent in non-conventional areas, that does not mean they are incapable of getting along with the society. I remember watching my little sister and I interact & our differences were quite apparent. She was a very gifted & talented artist, yet my clumsiness with crayons and paints made me the worst art partner ever. But again, she also had a knack for numbers, and maths was her cup of joe. Similarly, my abilities lay in writing. For example, making up stories and poems seemed easy to me.
The point is that each child is unique & has a specific type of intelligence that should be celebrated and nurtured just as much as the stereotypical maths or science super genius-child. As individuals, we have several different types of intelligence inside us, and sometimes each of these come in unique combinations. Some kids are naturally more talented at singing or art, while others seem to excel in science without any additional help.
How to manage criticism
So why are children criticised for being different? Why is it so convenient for parents to compare their children and pressure them? Well, according to Dr. Gotlib, this may be because there is a lot of pressure on parents these days, and they feel like their job is not complete unless their child becomes what society deems "successful." This usually means having a child who follows society's norms of being an accountant or doctor.
While there is nothing wrong with being an accountant, what about truly extraordinary children? For example, if your child was exceptional at drawing or giving a public speech but couldn't balance a chequebook, would you criticise them for their inability to do so?
The other day, I talked to a friend, and he mentioned that his son loves soccer and wants to play on a travelling team. My first thought was, "Good for him." However, I could tell by the tone in his voice that he wasn't too happy about his child's choice of hobbies. So what did I say? You guessed it: "That is wonderful. Encourage him."
Dr. Gotlib advises parents who worry that their child isn't working up to "society's standards." He says, "parents can rest easy knowing that they don't have to do anything abnormal for their child to be successful. Society has created such high expectations of children, but you can relax and let your children find their path."
Follow your dreams, always
Don't try to change your child's view on the world; listen to what they have to say and encourage them to follow their dreams. My second-grade teacher once told me that I was "such a good journalist" because I loved writing stories. She knew that I loved to tell stories in words from a young age and eventually became a journalist for this very newspaper. Do I regret my choice? Never. Thanks to her encouraging me in the right direction, I am now pursuing a career that is my dream.
When kids can chase their dreams, they are happier people. They will be more content with themselves and know that they are unique. They won't be living up to society's standards; they will be creating their own. In the end - whether it's your son or daughter who has an eye for art instead of medicine or your child who loves watching trashy reality shows instead of dramas - it doesn't matter. Just be supportive and make sure they know that you will always love them, no matter what.”
Article supplied by Talents Tech Melbourne.