How to help your child follow his or her passion

We all wish to see our children happy and successful in their future. We give them everything we can to help them thrive as human beings. But in this quest to give them what we think we want for them, we sometimes forget to ask what they want for themselves. And this is especially true in India even in today’s times. Uncommon passions such as passion in sports and travelling are still not recognized for their advantages.

Many parents still believe that an interest in sports is just a phase and won’t impact their child’s future (here’s how they’re wrong). Similarly many believe an interest in travel is nothing more than a hobby and cannot teach anything to their kids (Wrong again! This article shows the valuable lessons traveling can teach your kids). Here is how you can help your child follow his or her passion.

But no matter what the times have been, there have always been some brave souls who have followed their passions relentlessly and today the world follows them. They have nurtured their passions with care and today they are an icon and a huge success in their fields. It is essential to remember that passion doesn’t guarantee a college degree or a high paying job but it does guarantee a happy life.

One can argue that not all passions have a future. And a simple counter to this is that maybe not all those who are passionate about something become successful, but everyone who is passionate at least deserves a chance. And as parents, we owe our kids a chance to follow their passion.

Here is how you can help your child follow their passion:

1. Listen:

Listen

This is where it starts. Listen to your child when he wants to speak about a cricket match, or a painting or a song or anything wherein he has a gleam of excitement in his eyes. When you listen, try and focus on how happy they are when they speak of it.

2. Try and understand their point of view:

When you listen to your child speaking about something with enthusiasm, ask them why it fascinates them. By asking questions you are showing an interest in their activities and they are more likely to open up about it when they see you interested. When they do give you an answer, try and accept it because it is their point of view.

3. Do not try to negotiate:

We use this tactic often. We listen to their answers and when we don’t relate to those answers, we try and redirect them towards something that seems more logical to us. We argue and negotiate in the hopes of diverting their minds from something which is clearly their passion.

4. Do not judge:

Do not judge

When we don’t understand something, we tend to judge it. “What’s so great about Dancing? That’s not a sensible career choice”; “You aren’t good enough to play professionally”, “You will give it up just like basketball, football, and tennis” or “It’s just a phase”. These are all examples of how we judge our kids sometimes. But our kids don’t need our judgment. They need our support and understanding. By judging them, you are only making them feel rejected and rebellious, which is not what our goal is.

5. Don’t put them in a box with an open top:

This is also something we as parents do. We listened, we understood and accepted but now we try to fit them in existing labels. Suppose your child likes pottery which is a form of art, but you try and coerce them into sculpting which in your mind is a more ‘respectable’ form of art. Here you are letting them be creative but in a way you deem acceptable. But you have to remember that not all passions have labels. Passion was, is and will remain something unique to every child.

6. Be their cheerleader:

Be their cheerleader

When your child comes to you with their passion, chances are they are already scared of your reaction and all they want from you is your approval. That’s it. They want you to accept their passion and give them support to move forward. They already know it’s a tough world out there and the competition in every imaginable field is fierce, and all they hope and need is your encouragement. Tell them that you support them and you’ll be there for them no matter what. Trust us; most of your work is done.

7. Lend a hand if they need it:

Lend a hand if they need it

Your child might need dance classes or a new guitar or extra tuitions or money for coaching classes or simply need you to pick them up and drop them, if it is in your hands, do it. When you support and help your child, their confidence increases thereby increasing their chance at succeeding, and at the end of the day, isn’t that all we want?

8. Show up:

Show up at their dance recitals, cooking competitions, Olympiads, matches, art contests etc. When your child sees you, it boosts their confidence and positively reinforces your support.

9. Don’t give up:

A common scenario that pops up is that your child is passionate about something but not good at it or is too indecisive and often changes his or her mind. In such cases, after a few initial attempts, the parents tend to give up and instead of letting go of their child’s dilemma; they make it a live topic in every discussion about the child even if it’s not related to their passion or career. This is what causes children to suppress themselves and become unhappy. By judging your child for his weakness you are not only withdrawing your faith in him, you are also effectively suppressing their happiness. No matter how finicky your child might seem, try and give them a fair chance to prove themselves.

All children need from us to follow their passion is our support, love, and encouragement. These are wings they need to fly, whether their flight is short or long, depends on them.

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