Your child’s first tryst with karate goes up on Facebook and you’re all excited about reading comments like, “Jr. Jackie Chan in the making!” Soon, he begins to tap his feet and you think he is going to be the next dancing sensation. We know all children are different, but it is worth observing that every child changes with every day, and so do their interests.
Parents increasingly recognize the importance of pursuing a child’s interests to make the road to success a well-charted route map. However, this is easier said than done – what you may gauge as a sure sign of the future may naturally fizzle out in a few months. Instead of swinging from one end to the other, what you need is to fall back on how to observe and nurture your child’s interests.
1. Don’t hold back from indulging
In a survey conducted in the US in June 2014, 47% of parents reported that their school-aged children spent more than 20 hours on leisure activities. Make the most of your child’s leisure time and allow them to indulge in activities and experiment freely. Let them try music, arts and science experiments, play video games and read stories. Set them free in a toy shop or bookstore to see what they pick up. To identify their interests, just step back, watch and observe.
2. Take time out to observe
This one takes time, but is engrossing. Just watch them play, interact with people and carry out daily activities. Ask yourself these questions to look for clues:
– What gets my child to smile and laugh?
– What catches my little one’s attention?
– What gets them excited?
– What are their favorite things to do?
– What does my child work hard at?
– What brings out the best in my child?
– What gets them to try new things?
– What do they choose to do most often?
Most importantly, ask them. Only they know what makes them happy. Reduce the pressure and get them to really talk to you about what they enjoy and what they don’t. Let them know it’s ok to get bored, or not be as excited about things after some time. The important thing is that they recognize and share this with you.
3. Categorise what you observe
Research conducted by Argos found that over 60% of adults working in design-led jobs, such as architects and designers, enjoyed playing with building blocks as children. 66% – working in math-related roles, such as accountants and bankers, preferred puzzles. To find what ticks your child on, sort the interests in various buckets:
(i) The fleeting ones
(ii) The stepping-stones that slowly add up to what truly drives them
(iii) Finally, the ones that can go on to define their future careers
While classifying, bear in mind that the world is a very different place today. New roles are being created all the time, and hence, some not-so-significant interests could actually hold the key to your child’s career.
4. Have a holistic outlook
Remember, every interest may not inspire a career choice. Be thoughtful, but take care not to get over-obsessive. Let children explore as many things as they can, as it adds to their experience as a human being. It works to have a holistic outlook towards what your child likes to do and to nurture what look like short-term interests with long-term and deeper commitment.