Where Every Family Matters

How to Spot Your Child’s Gifts

Be intentional about observing your little ones — they have hidden talents just waiting to be discovered.


“Greatness isn’t born, it’s grown,” says Daniel Coyle, author of The Talent Code (Bantam; 2009). We all grow up to be something, but when we're young, the inklings of our interests are sparked by our exposure to things we love. That's why, when choosing activities, apps, books, outings and more for your kids, you should stay alert to who they are individually. Draw your child's individual talents out by honing-in on them.

 “Your job is to expose your children to lots of different things and then observe what they choose to spend their time on,” says Paula Olszewski-Kubilius, author of Early Gifts: Recognizing and Nurturing Children’s Talents (Prufrock; 2003). Letting your child lead the way in the elementary years without pressuring him to do what YOU want is a good way to go for his later success, says Coyle. Let your child try as many different activities as he wants to, and then at some point, allow him to make the choice about what he will pursue further. 

1) Stay Alert

Children will pursue their interests instinctively. Building with blocks or not; painting with watercolors or not; climbing trees or not; asking to cook or not …

2) Provide Opportunities

Talents need opportunities in order to come out. If no opportunity is given, a child's proclivity for something can be suppressed throughout his formative years. It’s important to provide a range of opportunities for your kids so that any hidden talents can emerge and blossom. You can do this by introducing her to different topics, games, skills and activities, and helping him to pursue them.

3) Nurture What You Find

Praise and encouragement go a long way in developing your child’s recognized talents. Let your kids know you are proud of and support their passions and interests. Look for opportunities where your kids can demonstrate their abilities to friends and relatives; their support will reinforce yours. Teachers may be able to provide openings for your kids' talents, too. For serious training, you may need to invest in private tuition and other support such as courses, competitions and equipment.

4) Provide Enrichment

When nurturing an ability of your child's, aim to broaden and enrich his understanding of the subject. Read biographies of others who have done the same sort of thing. If she’s a budding jazz saxophonist, take her to some jazz concerts. If swimming is her forte, let her compete. Open doors for your kids' interests wherever you can. Activities for kids are only worth pursuing if they enjoy them. Being a champion tuba player, for instance, is no bonus to a child if he finds playing it unbearably dull.  When you discover things your child enjoys, keep at it — and remember, it's your child's life … not your's!

About the Author

Susan Swindell Day, Editor

Susan Swindell Day is the editor in chief of Nashville Parent and the mom of four amazing kids.