Discovering your child’s gifts and skills

The 5-12 stage is when kids learn skills. The foundations of craft skills and sports skills are laid down at this age. A wonderful gift to be able to give your child is the sense that they are physically competent. Of course, different kids have different gift-mixes. One will very readily pick up competence with a musical instrument, whereas another might show brilliance in sport or working with their hands. As a parent, be like a carpenter and work with the grain of the wood you have. This means, discover your child’s natural aptitudes and allow them to excel in the things they are good at.

Graciously accept that your children are unique individuals, and may not be good at the things you would like them to be good at. It might break your heart to see your boy kicking the wrong shaped ball around a sports field, but swallow your disappointment, encourage him to excel, and hope that he sees the light and changes codes later in life.

How do you discover what your child’s gift mix is? By encouraging them to a try a wide range of activities. Some things might not ‘click’, but you can be sure it will be a worthwhile experience anyway. Your daughter may prove to be no Giselle, but a year or two of ballet may enhance poise and co-ordination anyway. Offer a smorgasbord – from it will come a breadth of experience, a bag of skills, and probably an idea of what specific areas your child will shine in.

A little bit of pushing is sometimes necessary to overcome childhood shyness of new things. Often a child is surprised to find that they love things they had to be ‘strong-armed’ into at the start.  Many parents regard things like music lessons as not just an optional recreation but an essential part of their child’s education, and therefore feel that they should encourage practice and diligence just as they would with school work. They might dislike the music practice, but what a gift you are giving them.

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John Cowan

Writer, speaker and broadcaster, John Cowan shares his insight and opinions about the latest in parenting and family news in New Zealand. Hear John speak on radio stations every week throughout the country and regularly on national TV.  Follow @JohnCowanNZ on Twitter

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