Kids are often bombarded with the worst question ever, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I didn’t realize it until I got older but what a ridiculous question to ask a child who just learned how to tie their shoes on their own.
Reframing the question is one thing but even if it is asked, what do you do with the information once they answer it?
Parenting is a crapshoot. There’s no one way to do it right but at minimum we should be able to expose them to as many things as possible.
My two children are complete opposites. My daughter is super creative and loves the arts while my son draws the exact same stick man on anything that requires an illustration. We have however discovered that he has a deep interest in baseball. Who knew! We did. But only because we took a chance to expose him to a practice league.
We thought that we would sign up for T-Ball, just to keep him active and that he would just go the wrong way on the field and play with the dirt in the dugouts. WRONG! He’s obsessed with the history of the game and is performing well.
I noticed that my daughter had an eye for style at an early age – could that be genetics though? LOL. What started with her cutting up socks into makeshift tube dresses for her dolls has turned into now attending weekly local sewing classes.
Will he be a professional baseball player? Maybe. Maybe not. But at least he has some experiences associated with the idea of it. It’s not something that he can’t fathom. He can.
Will she be a fashion designer? Who knows. She’s also expressed interest in being an animator, a costume designer, and an actress. My goal is to let her try it all in some small way to see if it sparks something in her spirit. She even tried soccer. And lowkey hated it, she ended up more of a motivational speaker to her teammates on the field but at least she has tried it.
Here are a few things you can do to invest in your child’s interest now.
- Pay attention to what they watch. Do they play a lot of video games? Ask them if they would be interested in a coding class. Especially mid-pandemic, it may be easier to find something age appropriate online.
- Watch what they watch. Do they watch certain TV shows or youtube videos a lot? Ask them why they watch it so much? Is it for the fashion? For the action? What if you gave them a camera phone, would they be willing to record themselves doing something fun?
- Let them help. Do they hang around you when you cook? Do they ask to help? Include them? I know we get busy being busy but maybe helping to chop onions or knead the dough may spark an interest in culinary arts.
- Commit to letting them try one activity for a month or season. Whether it’s dance class or sewing class. Find something that they are interested in and make them commit to it for a short time. Kids (adult kids too) tend to tap out if something is immediately a challenge. Insist that they push past the discomfort because often there may be some interest or skill being developed on the other side of the discomfort.
- Ask them. Simply ask them the questions, “What are you good at? What do you like to do more than anything.” Remember they are kids. Simple answers like “to color, to play with my dolls, to cook” are all acceptable answers. Find ways to encourage more of what they like to do.
Also, expect kids to change their minds and be interested in more than one thing. We were taught to go after one goal when we were kids. The messaging was often that you were a failure if you didn’t do what you said you wanted to do at the age of 5. That’s so archaic and unrealistic.
Are you doing what you said you wanted to be when you were five? Feel free to follow these steps for yourself. I sure am…at 46 years young.