Michael is a sassy and social kid. I love him. I love him not only because he is my son, and well, that’s what Moms do, but because he tries so hard to learn things and even when he doesn’t succeed right away, he doesn’t give up. Sometimes it is heartbreaking seeing him struggle with things neuro typical kids have an easy time with. But that is normal for him, given the fact that his brain works differently and it takes his body time to process things. I am so impressed when I see him working so hard. I know it’s not easy, but he does his best and is cheerful most of the time. Then there are the times that are hard. Michael’s anxiety will get the better of him. There will be demands for continuous repetition of what he already knows, tantrums and tears and though he is learning to control the physical outbursts and swearing, those will come sometimes too. It is heartbreaking to watch and as a Mom and coach I am constantly refining my own tools to figure out how best to help him.
This is why recently it has occurred to me that encouraging his talents and gently nudging Michael in that direction can solve a lot of the self-esteem problems. That is what Dad and I are doing, and not in a way that we are trying to force him to become a protegee of some sort, but just to be as good as he can be doing something that he loves. We have known since he was a baby that Michael was musically inclined. He loves songs, memorizes lyrirs and tunes by heart and loves to dance. We had a bad experience with piano lessons when he was too young, so are now waiting, but were amazed at seeing him dance in Hip Hop class last year. We are now encouraging him playing his musical instruments at home, piano, guitar and accordion while he sings songs, and I think the time has come for either voice lessons or music lessons, such as piano. He is also our little GPS navigator and knows where to go and how to use Google Maps. His latest career interest is becoming a map designer, and in a touching statement to me, he said, “I want to work from home like you Mommy, in a home office. ” Ahhh.
But how can parents bring out a child’s interests and figure out what they love/do not love? Yes, not all our children will be savants, but it does not mean they won’t offer amazing things to the world and be less anxious and be happier people. 5 Ways to Find Your Special Needs Child’s Skills and Help Instill Confidence:
- See what they gravitate to: This is easy with kids who have autism in most cases. They tend to like to watch the same thing over and over, do the same activity etc. In that activity or act, lies an interest in something. If it is a television show, perhaps they are artistic and they can be directed to performance, singing or behind the scenes work. If they are building blocks of Lego, then these kids could be future engineers etc.
- Praise them when they do these activities: A parent’s or caregiver’s praise can go a long way. It will show the child that they matter and their skill matters not for financial gain, but because they are good at something.
- Find other kids that like these activities and hang out: Another great thing to do is to find other kids who like the same things as your child and try to organize play dates or if it’s a class, have your child try a trial run. They will get a kick seeing how they have a talent like a lot of kids.
- Give them the time at home to explore: Let them free play with toys, instruments, blocks etc to get a feel.
- Encourage them and talk about their talents: It’s important if you see an interest that you talk to your children about the fact they are good at this or that and to keep up the good work.
Exceptional Parents, what are your children good at? Chances are you already know and need to only push them gently in the right direction. They will have fun and you as the parent will be happy that you trusted your instinct as a parent. It is always the right place to start. Until next time.