Before you try to encourage your child in its strengths, you need to go through a learning process yourself. Make sure you know what strengths are and make sure you know they come in many different shapes. Each child has a strength and helping them recognize it will not only make them happy but also grow into confident adults.
Lower your expectation and expect variety
At the mention of talent, we instantly jump to a set list of strengths such as a good singing voice, a dancer’s amazing sense of rhythm, painting, playing an instrument, being good at sports etc. As much as a lot of people judge the fact that we have so many talent-shows on TV nowadays, some of them, such as America’s Got Talent give us a variety of strengths placed outside the conventional box.
It opens our eyes to something less prominent such as being able to “communicate” with animals, being particularly flexible, incredibly charismatic and entertaining, being witty etc.
Let them run freely
Instead of structuring your child’s day into a variety of extracurricular activities, fill it with activities which will allow them to explore. I have been watching my little niece, who is now 16 months old, from when she was a very young baby. Her entire day is filled with exploration, excitement, and fascination. Even at this youthful age, she is prone to sticking to activities she finds entertaining and she is good at. After they grow up a bit, they are familiar with most of the things around their home. Now is your turn to help them explore.
Fill their days with a variety of different activities, regardless of the gender, let them help you when baking, sewing, and gardening, take them to farm festivals, sports games, a museum, a zoo etc. Throw everything you can their way. While I am not completely against the extracurricular activities, I think they should be carefully aimed and done one or two at a time or, depending on the frequency, as you need to allow your child to play and rest.
I am not an expert in the field, but I don’t think any child has been born quiet. It is the set of circumstances while growing up that makes them that way. When they reach the age of 2-2.5 their language skills peak incredibly. Within a matter of weeks, you will be able to notice the cross between a child who uses the minimum language to communicate and the one who uses the language to express themselves.
This is an amazing learning phase so use it to talk to your child, that is, let them talk and you can stir them with some questions. They will be able to analyze their day, themselves and those around them with a child’s sincerity and you will get to find out about the things which drive them and make them happy.
The same little talkative people are entering a phase of imaginative play and it will stick with them forever, with the changes in the intensity, of course. Encourage their imagination by playing pretend with them and see what it is they like doing. They will have a safe environment which will allow them to try out different things.
Help them get interested in their strength
Even though they may be used interchangeably, strengths and interests are not the same. Strength is backed up by natural ability and inclinations, while interests come and go and can be influenced by children’s environment. Once you recognize your child’s strength, you can help them find out more about it. Show support every step of the way by finding means of helping them explore further into their talents. Offer them background knowledge.
If they want to be a gymnast or a contortionist, take them to a circus or a local competition. Have them involved in the world of their strength. It will help them base interest on the strength and that is a much more efficient method of having them stick to one thing than pushing them and explaining that they have to do it.
The best way of encouraging your child is by showing support for what they do. Allow them to practice and make it happen. Sign them up for dancing or music lessons, find a team they can practice basketball with, get them the age-appropriate brain-teasers etc. Once you see that a child is sticking to the strength, take a step further, you can buy a used piano and have them share their gift with the entire family and practice if they want to.
At this point, there is no need to splurge, yet. You never know if they are going to change their mind about something. Also, when speaking of encouragement, it is often pointed out through the theory of growing mindset that encouragement should be used to praise, instead of an actual appraisal. To put it in plain words, you can simply say “wow!” at something your child does, instead of saying “You are amazing!”
Watching your child play and spending time with it, there are slim chances you will fail to notice their talent. The complicated part is nurturing the strengths. You must be careful not to let your ambition meddle with your ways.