As a parent, I've hoped that my child would one day excel academically. In the early days, I pictured moments of my son handing me his exam results, and that I would exclaim in delight at how well he's done and hug him ever so tightly.
But I also wondered then: what if reality is not as such?
What if my son fails his exams and isn’t as bright as some kids out there? Would I think less of him or dislike him for it?
Of course, then and now, the answer is no. I will love and support him and the other areas of him that shine. I will learn to be the mummy he needs on this journey of life.
From the time he started school, my son has struggled with his school work. My husband and I had to come to terms with his capabilities, agreeing that we would love him no matter the results he brought home.
But as he grew, we started noticing that he had a knack for picking up musical beats and drawing. He enjoyed drawing flip books – which is a series of images that gradually change from one page to the next, such that when you flip the pages quickly, it looks like an animation.
Raphael has 25 of his own flip books to date, and I am mighty proud of him because they take a whole lot of patience and precision.
To hone this talent of his, my husband bought him a starter flip book kit and a special tracing light pad. We started to show him more art tutorial videos and bought better quality drawing instruments for him.
We even brought him to the art store to choose an easel board, paints, brushes and canvases. He was ecstatic to own all these art equipment. The joy that radiated from his face made our hearts happy.
One day, my husband showed him a drawing tutorial on Goku, a cartoon character from the show Dragon Ball.
Raphael sat at the table with his pencil, eraser and drawing paper, and followed step-by-step according to the video. The end product of his freehand drawing of Goku blew me away, and I realised that his gifting really is in art and music.
Photo courtesy of Joni Ang.
Had I stuck to my way of wanting him to bring home the best grades and brushed aside Raphael's talent for the arts, he would have been an extremely unhappy child.
Raphael may be little, but he is a human with feelings. I ought to respect those feelings.
As a mum to young kids and a preschool teacher for the past 17 years, here are my humble tips for nurturing your child’s talents from young.
1) Be on the lookout for your child’s natural giftings
Young kids will not realise or articulate what their talents are, but as adults, parents can observe and pick up areas that their child is really good at.
From my own experience, when Raphael was about two years old, he always preferred doodling to colouring. His doodling made no sense to us at first, but it progressed to faces and things that revolved around his daily life.
Whenever I asked him to colour, he would not oblige. But when I gave him a pencil and some papers, his whole countenance would come alive.
2) Accept your child’s natural giftings
As parents, sometimes unknowingly, we place expectations on our child. We want them to be this and that, or do things that we want them to do, but they may not always want what we want.
What we perceive them to be may not be their desire or what they're capable of. After all, does being a good student only entail getting good grades? Does a good student do everything they're told to do without having any opinion of their own?
I knew the answers long ago, but accepting reality required a conscious effort on my part. I had to embrace the fact that what I desired Raphael to be is not where his strength lies.
I had to tell myself time and time again that he is good at other things, just not the area I prefer. I had to accept it.
3) Provide an environment to hone your child’s natural giftings
Scaffold your child’s natural giftings by providing a safe space for them to grow to their utmost potential.
If you can, engage a professional to coach them or be very intentional in providing the right resources to groom their natural giftings.
Once we have recognised our child’s giftings, I believe it is important that we parents help to hone that talent and allow them to be the best that they can be in their element.
Their talent may not be what we want or desire, but we have to see that they shine in this particular area and should tap on that gifting and cheer them on.
We are our children's safe haven, the place where they can make mistakes but are still loved so dearly.
Have a parenting experience or revelation to share? Send it to us here.