Perhaps you’ve just watched your little one in the school play and you think, “Wow, he can really act and sing too!” The next question you need to ask is, “How do I develop my child’s talents?” Knowing how to develop a child’s talent is an important part of helping children find their place in the world. First though, let me state that I believe all kids have a talent, and our jobs as parents are to find what that talent is, facilitate it, and encourage it. But that also means that just as it’s possible to have considerable talent in one area, it’s also possible to have no talent in another.
First, find your child’s talent.
I’ll give you an example. My daughter, when she was in school, had an amazing voice, both in range and, even more importantly, timing. Of course, her voice hasn’t gone anywhere, and she’s doing great things with it, but for the purposes of this article, I’ll confine my commentary to her school years. She loved music and sang in every venue she could find, even in the shower. On the other hand, I couldn’t offer her the same accolades about her chemistry. I could have put her in a chemistry class morning, noon, and night, and while I could hope she would achieve an acceptable standard, I recognized that she’d likely never be brilliant at it. I came to terms with that a long time ago, and so did she.
But why do I mention the chemistry and singing? Well, to illustrate the fact that there are two stages in helping our kids find their talents, One is exposing kids to all sorts of things, and the second is discovering whether or not they are any good.
Next, evaluate their skills.
While parents often get the first half of the picture right, many of them miss out on the second. They expose their children to lots of different things, but they fail to see when the writing is on the wall, even when it’s shouting at them in big, bold letters and saying, “Stop, please!” Sometimes this is because the parent has a talent or a particular interest in a particular area, and they can’t let go of the fact that their offspring may not. Sometimes it’s for other reasons.
One of those other reasons is because it has become politically correct to tell kids they can do or be anything. Nobody wants to look like a non-encouraging Grinch. So I think it’s a good idea to ask why that is. After all, the end result was that my daughter’s high school choir class was filled with a significant number of kids who really couldn’t sing. I mean not just singers who are struggling with a note here or there, but kids who, as lovely as they were, were simply tone deaf.
I know choir is part of the high school curriculum, so perhaps that’s why having significant groups of non-singers is understandable, but it’s worth asking the question of why do so many parents find it difficult to come to terms with their child’s limitations? Well, largely, I think, because our attitude has been swayed by society in general and, more particularly, by the consumer part of our society.
How do I develop my child’s talents? It’s it easy for parents to be confused.
We can look at it like this: If a young adult can be made to believe she’s utterly gorgeous supermodel material, then she will want to worry all the time about her appearance. She’ll buy more makeup. She’ll buy more clothes. She’ll have her hair cut more often. She’ll browse fancy shops looking for all sorts of cool accessories. In the bath at home, she’ll read fashion magazines and tune in to influences who will persuade her to spend more of her—I mean, your—money. In short, her or your expenditures will exponentially increase because of her belief in her new-found gorgeousness.
In other words, by telling children that they can be good at anything if they put in the effort, we are essentially serving a master we may not even be aware of. Who is that master? It’s profit. It’s the marketplace, and its words have eaten their way into our collective consciousness. It’s filled society at large with decent people who say to children, hoping to inspire them, “You can be anything you want to.”
Now, if you’re talking to little people, I get that. After all, when they’re little, nobody knows yet where their skills lie, and we want to simply encourage them. However, it’s not something we say just to little kids anymore. We say it to everyone, and that’s why there are lines and lines of people standing outside the doors of “America’s Got Talent” or “American Idol” auditions (a show that returns to our screens soon) or similar shows who simply can’t sing.
How do I develop my child’s talents? Not everyone is good at everything.
It’s why in my last playwriting class, we were all told we could be playwrights, when I know for a fact that’s not true. Many of the attendees can’t write their way out of a paper bag. Others can, but they lack a natural ear for dialogue, so their words sound horribly stilted. It goes on, because more than anything, we have been told that if we put the work in, we can make it! Yes, you can teach playwriting, and everyone can achieve a certain standard, but all but the most talented lack the spark that will keep you sitting in your seat. It is why everyone rises now during a standing ovation, an accolade that is supposed to be something that separates the extraordinary from the ordinary. Actors hate it. They know the difference. Why don’t we?
How do I develop my child’s talents? AI is coming.
I should also add that this Christmas, my children showed me how AI works and how I can use it. I asked it to write some satirical poems, and it did an okay job—not as good as me, I have to say, but pretty good. You can judge my satirical poetry work for yourself if you’re interested. Why do I bring up AI? Well, it’s pretty incredible what it could do. I took two random items and asked it to write a satirical poem about them, and it did. I asked it why child-centered parenting doesn’t work, and it told me. It wasn’t as long as I’d hoped, and it lacked some of my own observations, but it was close—and some might argue, too close.
AI will have a profound impact on the lives of your children. It will change everything, and one of the things I think it’ll change the most is that it will do away with mediocrity. Mediocre artists, writers, musicians, journalists, and lawyers will all soon be out of a job. Only the truly talented in the arts will flourish, and I’m sure the same could be said for the sciences too. So that means it’s even more important for parents to find out the real talent of their children because it’s the pursuit of that real talent that will determine whether they meet with success or failure in the future.
No matter how much we might desire it, we are not talented at everything. In fact, I would argue we are actually not talented at most things, but somewhere in that mire of mediocrity, there’s a gem. It might be like trying to find a needle in a haystack or a black cat in a coal cellar. It’s still there, lucking, waiting to be discovered by the encouraging parent, buried and obscured to all but the most determined eye.It’s brilliant, and it will fill your child with joy, not just because people tell them they are good at it but because they can feel it for themselves. Their success will be real and their talent obvious. As parents, we simply have to find out what that is.
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