Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Helping Your Kids to Discover and Develop Their Talents

Every day, children all over the world go to school to get an education. From a young stage, they learn their ABCs and 123s. As they get older their learning becomes more advanced but learning is learning just the same. With today’s post, I’d like to focus on another aspect of their education – the lessons that they can’t be taught in a classroom. It’s about learning about their unique talents.

There’s a proverb that I have lived by since mid-way through college in the early 90s. It has literally changed my life. It says simply, “A man’s gift makes room for him and brings him before great men.” How could those simple words change someone’s life? Well, that’s what I’d like to share with you today.
Each person is born with innate gifts and talents. Our kids, as small as they may be, are talented beyond what many of us may think. When those skills are developed, they can help them to live the great lives that they deserve to live. I’m not only just saying this – it’s part of my own experience. Here’s the story:
As a child growing up, I really didn’t think I’d turn out to be anything much in life. I wasn’t the brightest student by any means. I wasn’t athletic. I wasn’t popular. I had a speech impediment that caused me to stutter. These were just some of the issues that caused me to develop low self-esteem and self-worth. My thought was that if only I could stay young forever, I’d never have to grow up and take on the responsibility of having a job or taking care of a family because, in my mind, I’d fail at those tasks too.
In the early 90s, when I studied at the University of Texas at Austin, I had my fair share of struggles. I was actually on the verge of being put on academic probation or being academically dismissed from the University. It was around that time that I came across the proverb. It sounds pretty simple right? How could the words “A man’s gift makes room for him and brings him before great men” change someone’s life? Well, I lived it and it was real to me.
I learned that I was born with skills and talents. If only I could develop them, there’s nothing I couldn’t accomplish. And I didn’t need to worry about what people thought of me. My skills could create a place in the world for me where I could be the best that I could be. Pretty much since then, over 20 years later, I’ve been on this path of self-discovery. I no longer daydreamed about being someone else and trying to imitate their styles. I learned to be happy with just who I am and work on my own skills.
What I found on this journey of self-discovery was that I have a heart to help people. I love to see people learn the lessons in life that can help them to become better and more effective. The lessons that I’ve learned in this process have been amazing. And the best thing about it all is that I am at my best when others’ lives are enhanced; otherwise, my efforts are futile.
Here is my advice to parents on teaching your kids to discover and develop their talents: get to know the things that interest them. Those interests may be sports, or music. Maybe they love reading. Whatever it may be that they love, encourage them to go further.
I believe strongly that each of our kids can be good at many things. But there are some things at which they are exceptional. You may not know just what those areas may be but , believe me, they exist. The important thing to note is that, with confidence and self-esteem, your kids can become empowered to do what might seem impossible. The more you encourage them, the better they feel about themselves. And the better they feel about themselves, the more they accept who they are. And the more they accept who they are, the easier it is for their innate skills to shine through.
Another thing to note is that they should love and accept themselves as they are. They may not be perfect but if they accept themselves, they develop from within. Too many kids look up to athletes and entertainers so much that they live vicariously through these so-called heroes and never look at their own talents. Am I saying they shouldn’t admire these figures? Certainly not. But I know of too many kids who idolize others to the extent that they never learn about the good in themselves – they’re too focused on others.
I hope that this post has been helpful to you. Do share the thoughts with your kids. I believe that they will be better as a result. Whether you have teens or younger kids, just know that each of them is born with innate gifts and talents. And, when discovered and developed, they will make room for them and bring them before great men.
Our kids are gems that were made to shine. Let’s give them the tools to shine brightly.

Have a great day.

The Upbeat Dad

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