Monday, April 16, 2012

Nurturing Natural Abilities

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We all inherit a great deal from our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and so forth that came before us.  On Becoming Toddlerwise  talks about HEP--Heredity, Environment, and Personality. These three things work together to help shape and mold your child into herself. Today we will discus Heredity, or Inheritance.

When I first read  On Becoming Toddlerwise , Brayden was just barely one year old. Toddlerwise suggests you first need to be aware of talents, propensities, and abilities your child could possibly inherit. I know a good deal about my own family, but realized I didn't know much of my husband's family. I sat down with my mother-in-law and asked her to share special talents from my husband's ancestors. As Toddlerwise says, "First, you need awareness" (page 15). I needed to know what to watch for.

Now of course, just because Grandma was an amazing singer who could sing by ear doesn't mean your little darling will be too, but it does mean it is possible and it is something to watch for. So we start by knowing what to watch for and then watching for these qualities.

I love the next point. "Second, you can maximize your child's genetic potential when you parent the "whole child" rather than just a single trait" (page 16). You don't want your child to be one-dimensional, and you don't want to focus so much on a skill that you ignore important moral traits.

I also think it is important to step back and not let your own ego get in the way of observing reality. For example, Kaitlyn is a great dancer for her age. Last year was her first year doing dance. I am not a dancer, so I don't much know what is going on. At the dance review, several of the moms of girls in her class told me Kaitlyn was the best dancer in their class.

It got me thinking. Was dance going to be Kaitlyn's forte? Her passion? But I think about stuff a lot and really tried to analyze what was actually going on. No doubt, Kaitlyn was the best at doing the dances. She still is greast at them. Let's remember, however, these are then three and now four year old girls. Maybe Kaitlyn's natural talent is not so much in dancing as it is in listening and following instructions. She also has a great memory. And maybe it is that she is a good dancer--I am not sure. And maybe she is a fabulous dancer, but her passion will really be in soccer or piano.

My point is, it is hard to know for sure what the real talent is of young children. It also is dangerous to push them toward what you think is their talent or passion because that might not really be it. So always be mindful of what the talent is, and also remember to allow your child to be well-rounded in life. Do not pressure your child into something he or she might not be.

A final thing you can do to help your child reach individual potential is to make sure your child develops "basic disciplines of life" (page 16). Focusing skills, concentration skills, the ability to sit still, listening, self-control, self-governance...these are skills that are needed to be able to excel at other skills in life.

So the three main areas to keep in mind as you nurture your child is 1-know what is in your child's genetic potential, 2-focus on parenting the whole child, and 3-teach basic life skills.

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