Are you born with innate gifts or do you develop them along the way? Talent or skill? This has been a proverbial debate crossing multiple industries through the years. When you’re in sales, are you a natural with people? Are you born to be a writer, a singer, a botanist, or a businessman? Or are these skills and personalities in time?
When my baby, Portia, was born, I expected her to be quiet tyke just like me because that’s how I’ve always been. I was an introvert, and like all introverts, I was attracted to jobs that weren’t limelight-required. I was passionate at writing because it provided me with the best of both worlds. I could be vocal in my opinions, but anonymous; regarding my identity.
Portia though loved performance arts, though, craving their attention from early on. She would record her singing on my cell phone starting from when she was as young as two. She joined fashion shows of all things in school and attended ballet classes of her own volition, craving the limelight.
Coping with Unfamiliar Baby Traits
She seemed to be a natural too at all of these things. She could pick up a tune quickly, look at a dance number and copy it right after.
For a time, supporting her was a bit of a struggle, not just financially but psychologically as well. In my mind, I didn’t know how to handle such an extroverted child. Unfamiliar with similar sentiment, I was unsure how to nurture her gift for the performance arts. So when you identify talent, what do you do with it?
A writer needed space. Growing up, I was fine with my mother providing me only that. In my mind that’s easy, but different talents have different needs. The act of nurturing isn’t a single road. There are no formulas.
How to Identify Talent in a Child
There are two things that I’ve learned along the way though since I started studying. The number one skill perhaps in identifying talent is to pay attention. Most often, children at a young age will not tell you what they want to do; you will have to learn to recognise it.
They will show you the things they believe themselves to be good at; every child wants affirmation. When your child shows you their accomplishments, it’s a swelling of pride from them. Your child will recognise their talents and joy long before you do, just listen to them.
Children though have a way of showing you what they truly need most. When I tell my daughter to dance in front of relatives, she shies away. It has made me realise that forcing talent just doesn’t work; it’s their passion. The best way to probe it out of them is when they’re “just” dancing, or doodling, or singing. Children often thrive best when they’re not forced to do anything. A gift, after all, is heartily given.
Identify the Talent of Your Baby
When your child gives you indicators, continue to probe with questions. Probing will show them that you’re interested in developing their interests; which only make them more reserved into practising it themselves. It will also help them assess what they do and don’t like about certain activities.
Give Them Situations in Which They Can Excel
Play and roleplaying can be a helpful tool in bringing out talent in your child. Put them in situations where they can show off and be proud.
Are they good with numbers? Try taking them out with you to places you budget, let them count things prices and help give them new things they could like regarding numbers. You never know; a math genius might just be beginning to bubble to the surface.
Talk to Your Child’s School
Another important avenue to learn about your child is their teacher. Try discussing with their teacher’s things your child tends to fixate on. Are they sociable? Do they have excellent humour? Perhaps your child has an affinity for reading or writing.
One-on-one sessions with the teacher are a very effective way to gauge whether your child’s interests are consistent to what she shows at home. She may just be harbouring another talent that she’s not ready to show you yet.
I find that the same skills to identify talent in your baby are also the same skills needed to detect and nurture talent in your corporate organisation.Employee behaviour is, in hindsight, quite similar to a child’s. Each employee’s individuality plays a role on how you push them to step up and activate themselves.
Right brain talents – those with the natural ability for innovation, going outside the box, finding new solutions to an old problem – often need a lot of time and space to bloom. They will do things in their way, and micromanaging them will only get in the way of positive results.
Intuition plays a big part on why they do things, so expect them to be confused when you ask for a framework. They know where they’re going. They just don’t know how to go there.
Left brain talents are often analytical, find respite in organisational order, and need the discipline to thrive. They get lost with too much freedom. They need the exhilaration of keeping to a budget, beating a deadline, or problem-solving with already a scope and limitation set in place.
With left brain talents, most of them like to be supervised. In which case, you need to check constantly on them not for their lack of capacity, but for a deeper psychological need for order.
So Why is This Relevant?
Left and right brain children alike need attention. Observation is key just like when you try to nurture the talent of your biological children. There is no secret formula.
Just showing interest in and encouraging their genuine passions for certain things.The next time your child asks for attention, hone a feeling of pride from the situation; they are showing you a part of themselves.