Creative Child

6 Ways to Spot Your Toddler’s Natural Talents

by Mary Reckmeyer

6 Quick Tips for Spotting Strengths

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1. Watch for clues to talent.

When children demonstrate these clues time and again, they’re most likely using an area of talent.

Yearnings: activities or environments your children are repeatedly drawn to or eager to try

Rapid learning: new skills or activities your kids pick up quickly and easily

Satisfaction: activities your children are excited about doing again and again and times when they are the most enthusiastic and fulfilled

Timelessness: when your children seem to lose track of time or when they are “in the zone.” This is also known as entering a state of flow, which we’ve covered in a previous article about happiness and creativity.

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2. Compare notes.

Talk with others who know and care about your kids. Tell them about the specific patterns of behavior or clues to talent you have spotted in your kids. Ask them what patterns they’ve observed, and see if their observations match yours. Talking with others will give you further insight that will reinforce or redirect your observations.

3. Identify repeating patterns.

Over time, you can determine which patterns of behaviors are dominant for your kids. Focus their ongoing development on those patterns.

4. Create opportunities to develop your children’s talents.

As often as you can, guide or arrange activities that make the most out of your kids’ interests and talents. This will not only aid in identifying strengths, it can help your child find their passion.

5. Build a network of strengths spotters.

Share pictures and stories of your kids doing what they do best with others who care and who are invested in them — for example, your spouse, grandparents, teachers, or coaches.

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6. Learn the language of the 10 Clifton Youth StrengthsExplorer themes in Strengths Based Parenting to spot strengths.

Achieving, Caring, Competing, Confidence, Dependability, Discoverer, Future Thinker, Organizer, Presence and Relating. Use these themes to help you understand and categorize your observations of your kids.

Our job as parents is to nurture our children’s nature, to be detectives and discover who our children already are and who they are becoming, and to be coaches and create pathways that play to their strengths and manage their weaknesses.

Once we understand what’s important for our young children, we can help them pursue their fullest potential for happiness and success.

Mary Reckmeyer, Ph.D. is Executive Director of the Donald O. Clifton Child Development Center, which has received national attention for excellence in early childhood education. She has written books for children and parents. Her most recently published book Strengths Based Parenting: Developing Your Child's Innate Talent empowers parents to embrace their individual parenting style by discovering and developing their own — and their children’s — talents and strengths.

Mary is a former preschool and elementary teacher who holds degrees in educational psychology and education. Her research focus is on youth strengths development, educational programming, and lifespan development.

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