How to Help Your Children Develop Their God-Given Gifts
- Karen Whiting Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2020 4 Mar
Elizabeth walked up to a little two-year-old cousin she had never met. She knelt down and started talking gently to Torry. Soon Torry laughed and then nodded her head and grabbed the hand Elizbeth held out. Torry stuck with Elizabeth the entire evening.
Elizabeth loves to make children smile. It’s one of her talents. She also likes to make gifts for people
God gifts children in different ways. Her God-given talents include compassion, service, and art.
I gave Elizabeth a box of art supplies so she could make gifts for people in her extended family and to nurture her talents. She’s learned to sew small stuffed animals, make puppets, and use her hands in so many ways.
The best way to help children develop talents is through encouragement and opportunities that use their talents.
1. Let Children Explore and Experiment
Watch your children and notice what continues to draw their interest.
What do they talk about? What toys do they continue to play with and choose when they are visiting a friend, or at school?
Also, note how they use the objects they choose. Does a child choose blocks and then spend time sorting them into different categories such as by shape and then by size or color.? Do they do the same thing with different objects? Does the child talk as she plays and enters a world of fantasy?
Does the child find a playmate to engage with at playtime? Do they enjoy group fun or prefer one-on-one play or time alone?
Each answer points to a different type of talent:
- A child who finds the shy child in the crowd and helps that child relax and feel comfortable that reflects compassion and possibly a global learner.
- The one who sorts everything exhibits organizational skills and uses analytical and patterning skills. This might also indicate a talent in mathematics.
- When a child who talks a lot, notice the vocabulary level and grammar. If they have a good command of language early, they are verbally proficient. If the chatter includes arguing it may show a talent for law or journalism. If the talk is all about a specific topic that may indicate interest in a related field.
- The child who builds with blocks and other construction toys reveals a visual-spatial learner.
2. Listen Wisely
Other people see your children more objectively, so listen to their words. They may praise your child for patience, kindness, or joy. Or, they may gently mention an area where he or she needs help such as self-control.
Listen to teachers. Ask them what strengths they’ve noticed in your child. Listen too when they share weaknesses as that can also provide insight into what talents they lack.
Praise from other parents and adults are treasures to savor and reflect on. Mary, the mother of Jesus, pondered and hid in her heart the words spoken about Jesus when they brought Him to the temple.
Those words also help us see how others view our children and what talents others see in them.
Listen to your children. What excites them? What bores them? The answers provide more clues to their real talents.
Observe when your children interact with friends. Do they take over as a natural-born leader or sit back and follow? Do they share well and show kindness?
These responses reveal character traits. The dominant traits tend to tie into their talent or how they will develop it or use it. Compassion shows empathy and a desire to help others and adds to skills for medical fields and social work. Children who persuade others to follow them may rise to leadership positions or do well in sales.
Watch how your child learns and how persistent they are at overcoming problems. A child who runs and times themselves develops discipline and seeks to improve.
That persistence is an asset in many areas. Everything you learn helps you discover more about your child’s talents.
3. Discern What Failure Actually Reveals
When we see a low grade, or a child drops out of an activity or college, it’s not really a life failure. It shows the child needs to rethink their talents and passions.
One of my sons ended a semester with an illness and had to apply for a medical drop. He also voiced how he hated his classes. When asked why he chose the major he replied it was what his friends chose.
He needed to realize that wasn’t in his skillset or interest. He took a career assessment and noted the results indicated accounting as a good fit. He tried just a few courses in that field and loved it, and he earned high grades.
When your child fails in a subject that may be a weakness where they need help and it might indicate that areas that need that set of skills are not a match for the future. Not every child will become an engineer or a journalist. That’s good, because we need a variety of people to fill various needs.
Note your child’s weaknesses and help them strengthen. Affirm that it’s okay if they are not the best in everything. That too helps them see the difference in what they need to learn and what they love to learn.
If they have a passion they will persist and overcome obstacles such as practicing an instrument to become proficient.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Kiana Bosman
4. Pay Attention to Spiritual Gifts
Some gifts are easy to spot such as teaching, service, or encouraging others. Other gifts take time to notice, such as the gift of prophecy or preaching.
A child must first learn scriptures and how to pray before they can exercise the skills, but they may show a bent toward studying the Bible or powerful prayer.
Thank God for giving people special abilities. Read Jeremiah 29:11 and Psalm 114 and chat about how we are all made by God for different purposes. We should appreciate the gifts God gives others and be happy with the ones God gives us.
Help children trust that God has plans for their lives and equipped them with the mind to pursue certain interests and the skills to accomplish them.
They can wait on God, as they explore and pray to know how God blessed them and wants to direct them. To help them discern their gifts talk about people in the Bible and what gifts they used.
They can see how Dorcas used the gift of service (Acts 9) and the apostle Paul used a gift of preaching. When they do something related to a gift, praise them and identify the gift they are exhibiting.
5. Identify and Encourage Talents
Keep a little file or notebook. As you expose children to different experiences and observe their reactions add a note to your file. Note if the excitement or joy came from the activity or the people who engaged in it with them. Pray over those notes and review them at times to see if there’s a pattern that shows a specific talent or gift of the Holy Spirit.
Encourage passions even if they seem unrealistic. My cousin wanted to climb the world’s tallest mountains. His father said, “That’s a lofty ambition. I suggest you find something to get paid for as you climb mountains.” That cousin decided he could take photos while climbing and climbed Mount Everest as the photographer on the first American expedition up that mountain.
Make notes of various reactions:
- What they say after an activity and the enthusiasm or lack of shown.
- When they are willing to persist and overcome challenges.
- Go to the library and watch what books they choose. Show them ones related to recent activities to see if those interest them.
- Be willing to let a child opt-out after giving a good try to an activity. ON some, such as a team sport, you may need to set some boundaries at the start, such as the need to complete the season to not let down the team with the option that they will not need to sign up again.
- Note what they talk about frequently, what they avoid, and ask what they like/dislike about the activity.
6. Provide Opportunities
As you think you’ve identified a talent look for opportunities for your child to use them. My older daughter tried dance, gymnastics, and sports that involved balls but did not have the coordination or talent for them.
She tried swimming and loved it. At five years old we found a swim team that let her join. She stayed in swim teams through high school and became a WSI and lifeguard. That built her confidence. It was not connected to a life career but a talent she still enjoys.
Find opportunities to connect a gift of the Holy Spirit. For our children who showed joy in serving others, we connected them to helping the homeless with making sandwiches, volunteering in the nursery as they grew older, and shared about various organizations that serve people.
Make your home a place of opportunity. Have an art chest or shelf with supplies they can use any time. Make sure they know where to work and how to clean up.
Have musical instruments, building sets, puzzles, and other types of toys available so they can choose activities they enjoy. If one child seems to prefer music, consider stepping things up with lessons.
Choose opportunities where your child feels comfortable, such as a group class for the one who loves to be around people or private lessons for the one who prefers being alone or one-on-one.
Some children will become accountants who work alone while others will become party planners. Each child is unique, and God has a plan for every child.
Be thankful that you have time and the opportunity to identify and nurture your child’s interests. It’s a blessing to be a parent who takes joy in discovering more about each child and celebrates talents.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Ben White
Karen Whiting is a mom, author, international speaker, writing coach, and former television host who loves sharing ideas to strengthen families. She has written Growing a Mother’s Heart: Devotions of Faith, Hope, and Love from Mothers Past, Present, and Future. Check out her new book 52 Weekly Devotions for Family Prayer that includes a different way to pray each week plus stories and activities to explore questions children ask about prayer She loves adventure including camel riding, scuba diving, treetop courses, and white water rafting plus time at home crafting and baking.