Remember the movie ‘3 Idiots’ where Farhan (played by oh so cute R. Madhavan) has a passion for Wildlife Photography, but his father closes his eyes towards his son’s passion and pushes him to pursue Engineering? As a parent, he wanted what was best for his son, but did not give importance to what his son wanted to do. A crucial question all parents face is: Do we want to become such a parent?
I am assuming that since you are browsing this article, you don’t! Most parents nowadays are concerned about the holistic development of their child rather than focusing on just rote learning. But this also creates pressure on parents and raises an important question—Am I helping my child reach his/her full potential?
Look out for the gleaming eyes and beaming smiles. Children have a unique way of expressing themselves. They exhibit certain behaviours and give subtle cues right from when they are babies. It is a little more apparent in toddlers, but may still not be explicit. As parents we need to observe and latch on to these cues. Does my child enjoy music? Is s/he happy when I sing, or happier when I dance with her/him? Is s/he a restless toddler always wanting to run around? Does s/he enjoy any particular class in daycare/playschool? This will give you a reference point for the kind of activities s/he may be interested in.
One way of increasing the chances of getting your kids interested in something and identifying their areas of interest and talent is exposing them to various activities. Besides the school curriculum, there is no dearth of activities happening around the city. There are play areas where kids can interact with other kids beyond school/neighborhood friends. This exposure gives them an understanding of their own strengths and interests.
Do not limit yourself to enrolling the kids in nearby hobby classes. Childhood is all about exploring. Engage them in multiple ways—maybe in something that you or your spouse like to do--like playing badminton, cooking, sketching, etc. and see if they are paying attention, or are inquisitive about it.\
If your child exhibits an interest in something, try to facilitate his development in that area. See if you can manage to get a tutor at home, get together a group of students and negotiate prices and get your kids started, Begin with something basic, on a trial basis, instead of a full-fledged course, or else, find online free tutorials. Basically, give the child the assurance that you are trying your best.
Parents should always acknowledge their kids’ interests and encourage them to explore their talents. Not everyone will be the winner in a tennis match, nor every dance student selected for the annual event. However disappointing as it maybe for you, remember it is even more heartbreaking for the kid. So, stand behind them in support at such times and make them understand clearly that the activity itself is the biggest record, not the selection or the win!
Allowing kids to explore and master any skill, be it singing, dancing, sports, swimming, gardening, cooking, arts, creative writing, solving puzzles, will make them a well-rounded person. Even if they don’t make a career out of it, having a hobby will help them connect with a wide variety of people as well as deal with stress in their future life.