Every child has strengths that can be cultivated. But how do parents go about fostering these talents in their children and, perhaps, uncovering their inner genius?

Thanks to the increased neuroplasticity in kids, they can soak up information like a sponge and pick up new skills effortlessly. This means that nurturing your child’s strengths and interests early can help them excel in areas they’re interested in.

Here’s how to cultivate your child’s inner genius and innate talents:

1. Pay attention. What does your child do when they have “nothing” to do? Do they collect insects? Build things? Dance? Their chosen activities can show you their interests and strengths.

2. Give in. Once you’ve identified your child’s interest, don’t fight it. If they’re drumming on the furniture with markers, get them a drum set. If they’re making your walls into a canvas, get some real art supplies post haste. Getting kids involved with clubs, lessons, and group activities is also a great way to begin fostering their talents.

3. Introduce possibilities. Your child may not have an obvious skill or interest, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have the ability to excel in a particular area. Expose your child to different activities and see what they are naturally drawn to.

4. Encourage and empower. Like all of us, kids can be afraid of failure or compare themselves with their peers who have exceptional talent. Make sure your kids know that they have a world of possibilities ahead of them and can achieve anything they put their mind to.

5. Give them room. While education and practice are essential for a child to develop a skill, there should be a fine balance between structured teaching and free exploration. So instead of sitting them down at the piano bench for hours, let them have some time to themselves to play and practice on their own, when they want to.

6. Don’t be afraid of failure. Children must learn that failure is part of life, and setbacks don’t mean that they’re any less intelligent or talented. It’s easy to become frustrated and want to quit, but giving children the tools to handle failure can help them continue fostering their skills.

7. Set goals. But make sure those goals are realistic. Knowing they are working toward a specific benchmark can help motivate kids to keep trying their hardest.

8. Celebrate success. Giving specific and positive feedback to children can help them stay motivated. Getting specific can also help. For example, you might say, “Your short story came out really well—you’re really improving on your grammar.” Lecturing and pointing out mistakes can dampen kids’ excitement and enthusiasm.

At the end of the day, you want your child to do their best and be excited about what they do. So if they end up falling out of love with an activity, let it go. You can then help them start identifying other skills and interests they have.

A great way to foster your child’s skills and interests is to introduce them to fun ways to explore them. Check out these great online games and activities that can help spark a passion in your child.

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