Ask Jessi: How Do I Help My Son Find His Special Talent?

June 24th, 2010by Jessi Arias-Cooper


A reader asks:

I have 3 children, 2 girls and 1 boy. My son is the youngest (6 years) and he’s not as outgoing as his sisters. My oldest daughter (11) is a social butterfly. If there is an opportunity, she takes it. Swimming, dancing, sports…you name it. My second daughter (9) is more into academics. And she’s really good at it. She blows me away.

My son is very quiet and reserved. When we try to expose him to different things, he loses interest quickly and walks away. How do I help him find his talent?

Jessi says:

Kids are like fingerprints, completely unique. Which is a wonderful thing, because it offers your family a variety of things to celebrate. If everyone was a great baseball player…what would you do when the season was over?

I’m the middle-child of the Arias triple-threat (older brother, younger sister). While our senses-of-humor and entertainment interests are very similar, our strengths are incredibly different.

My bro is a brainiac. He’s easily the smartest person I’ve ever met. His academic and professional success is a great joy for our whole family. My sis has the fine arts cornered. That girl can belt out a melody that will stop you in your tracks, and while she’s at it, sketch your chihuahua for kicks. I rocked the sports, along with a bit of this, that, and the other thing.

The gist…we all had our “thing”. And now, as I’m raising three boys, it’s abundantly clear that they’re all different animals, too.

Every kid has his special something. It’s a matter of finding it, which can take some time.

You’re on the right track, already. If he doesn’t take a shine to something, don’t press the issue. He may try it again later…or decide it’s not for him and move on altogether.

6-years-old is still pretty young. I wouldn’t get too nervous. If he hasn’t expressed a great interest in academics or sports, he still may. I didn’t pick up on softball until I was nine, but when I did…woo doggy…it was the beginning of something beautiful.

There are many, many interests to explore, and the process of sussing out what rocks your little man’s socks could be a total blast for your whole family.

Give these ideas a shot:

Animals– Take him to the zoo and see if he has a particular interest in animals. If he does, maybe there is a local animal shelter or pet shop that he could do some volunteer work at. Even at his age, he can help fill food bowls or brush puppies.

Music– Play “kitchen band” with him. There are plenty of noisy things around a kitchen. If he seems to like it, sign him up for a trial music lesson (drums, guitar, violin, piano). Most communities have local musicians that like to share the love of music with the next generation.

Photography– The next time you’re at his sister’s swim meet, give him a disposable camera and let him be the official family photographer. He’ll love the responsibility.

Computers or video games– Perhaps, he’s a techy. Let him take a crack at some computer or video games. There are oodles of options for a 6-year-0ld.

Gardening– Maybe he’s got a green thumb amongst his digits. Take him to a green house and see if anything sparks an interest.

Art– There are a bajillion different kinds of arts and crafts available to try. Take him to a craft shop and see if anything catches his fancy.

Building– Blocks, LEGO’s, Popsicle sticks…you may have the next Frank Lloyd Wright in you midst and not even know it.

Cooking– Invite him into the kitchen and have a throw-down, Bobby Flay style. Okay, maybe start with PB&J, and work up the the creme brulee.

Sports– You mentioned that he’s tried sports, but maybe he just hasn’t hit on the right one. Try golf, running, rock climbing (at an indoor place with professional supervision). Think outside of the box.

The options are endless. The important thing to remember is that this is about him, and nobody else. Every time you try something together, whether he likes it or not, make sure you give him a pat on the back for giving it a shot.

If you hang in there, you’ll find something that sings to him, and the best part is, you’ll do it together. Bonding is always a bonus. Have fun with it and don’t get discouraged, your son’s special talent is out there, just waiting to be discovered.

If you have a question for Jessi, click here.

Jessi Arias-Cooper is the senior writer and an editor for Advice4Parenting.com. She is a work-from-home mother of 3 boys and has been married for 10 years. If she had time for hobbies and interests outside of parenting and keeping house, they would be jewelry making, baking, watching bad B-movie horror flicks and creative writing.

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