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Wednesday
Oct172012

Some Enthusiasm, Please!: Finding Your and Your Child's Inner Passion

by Stacey Libbert of Running Monologue 

Life is about happiness, inspiration and following our passion.  Charles Kingsley once said, “All we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about.” 

The best part of this is that passion, which is defined as boundless enthusiasm, is not some elusive thing that we must search out.  It is already within each and every one of us. 

I have been a teacher for many years, and one of the most important things I learned in working with students is that finding what interests the student is key to his or her success.  If I can tap into what really lights a student up or what most captures his or her imagination, progress skyrockets. 

But this concept does not apply only to students with special needs.  It applies to all of us.  What we need most is to follow our innate spirit.

For some older children, their intuition and inner passion is lying dormant.  Many of them have been so numbed by TV, the Internet, social media, and video games they no longer recognize what truly inspires them.  When asked what makes them happy, they answer with “I don’t know.” 

Passion and following intuition is not an easy thing to teach, but they can be encouraged in very simple ways. 

 

Think Different. 

Often, parents seek out “normal” activities in which to engage their children.  Soccer, basketball, cheerleading, and piano are common, and parents sign up in hopes of helping their children find what they are good at.  Those activities are wonderful.  My daughter loves soccer.  She is completely at ease when she runs onto the field and is giddy with excitement before each game.  My son, however, does not care for organized sports.  Like everyone else we knew, however, we signed up and he played well all season, but he did not love it.  He said, “It’s just not my thing.”  For a while, I threw out random suggestions—karate, basketball, art classes, but none of those appealed to him.  He was much more content to come home each afternoon and spend hours creating elaborate Lego robots and space ships, so I let it go.  He would, I figured, find his place. 

This year, he began Cub Scouts, and I’ve never seen him happier.  He gets to practice archery and go fishing and, best of all, build things.  There’s also a lot of sleeping outside, which is a huge bonus.  

For him, Cub Scouts was the ticket, but there are lots of other options out there, which may be less “mainstream”.  Think about what your child naturally gravitates towards.  Is it knitting, whittling, illustration, animals, building things, taking things apart?  What he or she chooses to do with free time is an excellent starting point.  

 

Don’t be afraid to dabble. 

Try lots of new things.  Some may not be successful, but others may spark something you would have otherwise missed.  Look into volunteering with a non-profit agency, like a soup kitchen or wildlife rescue.   These places have a multitude of jobs for people with various gifts.  

Ask local shop owners or arts councils about current programs or classes.  Some arts and crafts stores offer unusual workshops and outdoor outfitters, cycling and running stores offer outdoor programming on weekends. 

 

Don’t judge their passions. 

Many a childhood dream has been squashed by a well-meaning parent whose main concern is their child’s future independence.  “That’s a great hobby, but you can’t make a living at it” has been heard more than once. 

Don’t worry about how much money they may be able to make later on.  Give them the gift of believing in themselves and their gifts now, and the rest will take care of itself.  The child who is daydreaming and doodling today may become the very successful art teacher, play therapist or designer of tomorrow, so give them all the Sharpies and clean paper they want, and it will all work out in the end. 

 

Ask questions. 

If your child doesn’t have anything tangible that seems to fire them up, ask lots of questions.  Talk about what’s in their heads and in their hearts.  Ask them what makes them happy, why they feel the way they do, and what they might like to do to explore those things more.  

And, finally, reconnect to YOUR passion.  It’s been said before, but it bears repeating—you cannot give your children what you do not have yourself.  You cannot teach them how to follow their passions if you are not following your own.  If you’re not sure of what your passions are, use some of these suggestions to dig out what has been buried.  Journal, think about what you loved most as a kid, allow time to play and experiment, and then pursue your own dreams and interests with the same abandon you wish for your children.

At the end of the day, you will all be much happier. 

 

Stacey Libbert is a writer, teacher and mom in North Carolina.  She is passionate about books, running in the woods, and making art, and her children are daily examples of boundless enthusiasm.  You can read more about  what lights her up at her blog, Running Monologue or you can find her on Facebook at Running Monologue.  Please stop by and say hello. 

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