If passion doesn’t guarantee a successful life, probably won't be their career, and will likely change on a regular basis, why is it such a good idea to support the development of a passion in children?
A catalyst for skills
As we discovered in our last article, passion can help nurture grit. But it doesn’t end there. Passion can also teach positivity, self-discipline, happiness, and meaning. Director for Meaning and Quality of Life at Colorado State University, Michael F. Steger, says passion is closely connected to a person being more happy, more confident, more helpful, more positive, more resilient, more satisfied and more caring in all aspects of life.
Passion is the greatest way to nurture essential life skills in children because it is a source of interest and excitement. While your children are engrossed in fun, they will develop skills along the way.
The challenge is finding your child’s passion and encouraging it in the right way because well-meaning parents and teachers can quickly turn an interest into a disinterest, through pressure to do more or criticising when they drop an interest.
A Guide to finding and nurturing passion in children
Our in-house experts have two pieces of important advice for parents and teachers:
- Do not mistake a child’s strengths for passion
- Let them take the lead!
1. Do not mistake a child’s strengths for passion
Do not narrow your focus entirely on nurturing strengths; anything your child enjoys should be encouraged as it leads to the development of new skills and knowledge. They do not need to be the best at something to enjoy an activity or develop an interest (which in itself is a significant life lesson!)
If they have many interests, do not limit your encouragement to the one you judge best – as that could lead to missed opportunities and create a limiting belief that certain things in life are not for them.
2. Let them take the lead! It is not your passion
Do not be alarmed if your child does not have a visible passion or drops an obsession and picks a new one on a weekly basis. A passion begins where there is enthusiasm – therefore you cannot push or force it. Instead, your role is to be supportive and encouraging.
If you feel you need to take a more active role in drawing out a passion merely try observing them at play/in their free time, and spark introspection by asking open-ended questions such as:
“If you could create your ideal day, what would you do?”
"What aspect of this [game/hobby/TV Show] do you enjoy the most?"
“If you could not fail, what would you do?”
When it comes to teens, it might seem like they have no interest besides social media or computer gaming. Social and academic pressures at this age can distract them for a short time, but as they progress through life new interests will occur.
Advice for schools
Independent studies are a great way to arrange a time for passion exploration. Allow students to work individually on a topic of their choice and keep a journal or portfolio to document their research. Remember – do not limit this to just one interest! Encourage them to explore all their interests and create conversations around their journal/portfolio to get them to identify common ties. This type of reflection can especially help when it comes to selecting electives, colleges, or careers.
When facilitating the exploration of interests, you can also take this opportunity to teach them how to manage their time between academic work and hobbies. Another valuable life lesson!