As parents, we are always striving to raise our children to grow up to be kind, helpful, generous and caring. What is also important is raising passionate and determined human beings. Tying into this month’s South Slope Pediatrics core value of passion and determination, let’s talk about ways we can help foster and nurture this within our children’s lives.
What is Passion? Passion is defined as “a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something”. Our children are naturally passionate. Whether it be passion for all things Frozen, trucks, ballet, or soccer…our children often have very intense feelings (one way or another) towards things. How do we encourage and support this passion?
* Perhaps the #1 thing we can do as parents is to give our children opportunities. Give our child that opportunity to try a new sport. Give our children our devoted time to read and draw with them every day. Introduce them to new places, new things. Try a new food, go see a concert! Try a new music class. Go to the special exhibit at the Science Museum. Allow them the opportunity to find their passions.
* Always encourage your child, no matter what the passion is. Is he passionate about playing in the kitchen? How about spending time baking or cooking with him, allowing him to cook (or make a mess) with you! Is she showing an interest in dinosaurs? How about a family visit to the Museum of Natural History! Discuss these topics of interest with them. What do they want to learn more about? Take lots of photographs so you can refer to them and talk more about what you see and did.
* Keep it positive. I start each day with telling my 4 YO daughter “Today is going to be the best day”! She repeats it back to me, excitedly and with conviction. And when they have their lows, when they are frustrated because they can’t do something right, we need to let them know that failure is OK and a part of life. Try again, they will do better! Help them grow confidence and stay positive so they can find those passions.
Love and support whatever your child’s passion is. Is your child obsessed with tennis, but you haven’t picked up a racket in decades? Now is your chance. Nurture their passion by showing how far you’ll go to support them.
What is Determination? “A quality that makes you continue to do or achieve something that is difficult”. It is closely tied into passion in that the determination often comes from that passion. Determination is key to a successful life…so how do we help develop determination in our children?
* Recognize when your child works hard at doing something. Be their cheerleader, tell them how proud you are at their efforts, even if they can’t do exactly what they are trying to accomplish. Acknowledge that they are persisting, and giving it their all! Maybe try making the “trying” fun. My daughter was finding it hard to figure out how to leap (trying to do a grand jete from ballet class). She was very frustrated to the point she started crying and wanted to quit ballet class. I set up some of her stuffed animals on the floor so she had to LEAP over them…this became sort of a game to her, and she kept doing it and doing it until she could leap over the pile of toys, instead of running around it.
* Support and join them in the different activities that might be challenging. Perhaps it’s putting together a REALLY BIG puzzle, or riding your bike with them up the big hill in Prospect Park. Tell them stories about how you once didn’t know how to do something, but you were so determined that you finally were able to learn it and how good that felt! Let them know that the goal is attainable, and set up smaller benchmarks along the way so the goal feels less terrifying or intimidating.
* Lead as example. Let your child in on your own struggles and how you want to overcome them. Explain that you’re frustrated or upset with something, and what you are going to do. Let them know that you will never give up. Are you learning something new? Let them watch and see how you are trying your best.
Bottom line…our children all have these qualities in them, it’s up to us as parents to help them reach their potential!