Creative Child

6 Ways to Spot Your Toddler’s Natural Talents

by Mary Reckmeyer

When our children are born, we can’t wait to learn about their personalities. Will they be more like me or my partner? Maybe they’ll be strong-willed like their grandma or gregarious, like their grandpa.

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We also wonder what they will be like when they grow up. Will they be a performer? A physicist? An educator? When they’re little, it seems like the future is so far off in the distance. But there are ways to spot natural inclinations in very young kids.

Have you ever walked into a room with lots of very young children and noticed who makes eye contact with you and smiles to see if you respond? Or who shies behind a teacher and peeks out? Chances are, those children will act the same way the next time a new person walks in. Even at an early age, people show their individuality.

One of the easiest ways to discover your kids’ natural talents is simply to watch them in different settings — in the company of family, at the playground with playmates and strangers, or as they sit alone drawing and coloring.

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As you consciously observe your children, you will start to see how they spontaneously think, feel and act. Most likely, you’ll see them exhibit a variety of behaviors and reactions. The more times you observe the same response in different settings, the more likely it is a budding talent.

Just like older kids and adults, very young children will have unique reactions depending on their individual talents. I was watching a group of 7-year-olds play baseball one hot summer evening. One little guy walked away visibly upset after his team lost the game. He was repeatedly slamming his bat on the ground and pulled away from his dad who tried to give him a reassuring hug. Ten feet behind him, another boy from the same team was leaving with his mom. But he was happily skipping toward the car having enjoyed spending time with his friends and asking if it was time for ice cream. These two little boys had very different reactions to the same situation, even at 7 years old.

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Your children’s favorite activities or interests can also give you clues to their talents. What captures their attention? What do they love to do? They might be interested in bugs, cars, baby dolls, books, a keyboard, painting, or lots of other things. Maybe they are determined to master a developmental stage — walking, learning to ride a tricycle or hopping on one leg. 

When your kids are verbal, you can observe and ask them. As you think about how you can encourage your kids’ development, pay attention to their interests. When you need to teach them a new concept or reinforce something, using their interests can make the process faster and easier.

6 quick tips for spotting strengths on page 2...

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