Finding and discovering interests and talents provides some of life's most fulfilling personal satisfaction and enjoyment. Sometimes this comes easily, but other times; these must be searched for by the individual. Part of the joy of being a parent is to help our children find their interests and develop their talents. Parents should help their children explore different areas and encourage them to experiment with different experiences in order to help them find their talents and interests.

Teenagers have many opportunities to expand their interests and talents with extra-curricular clubs and activities. They may find an aptitude for a certain topic and join clubs in order to spend more time with that which interests them. One particular challenge that comes with the developmental stage of the teen years is that teens are centered on finding acceptance and success from external sources. This causes them to become extremely self-conscious and can give them a fear of failure and rejection. Encouraging your teens and supporting them through their concerns of failure can provide for their personal growth for the teen years and beyond.

1. Keep your eyes and ears open

Watch for areas that your teen excels and point them out. There are talents that are more easily spotted than others. Instrumental music, vocal performance, sports, drama, and art are more obvious in their ability to be recognized than the talents of being organized and leadership skills. If your teen has a less obvious talent, help them explore ways to magnify this talent.

2. Be a cheerleader

Your teen needs a lot of encouragement and approval. Be your teen's best fan.

3. Make the commitment

Do your best to facilitate the development of your child's talents. If you can, devote financial resources to its development. If the family budget is tight, get creative to find ways for your teen to explore his or her talents. Go to performances, recitals, etc. to show your teen that you are committed to their talents.

4. Express unconditional support and love, no matter the performance

Your love is not conditional, and your teen should know that no matter their ability or performance, this never changes. When considerable financial resources and time are devoted to the development of a talent, a teen can feel pressure to excel in order to get love. Make sure that you are in your teen's corner.

5. Learn about your child's interest or talent yourself

Take time to learn about what your child is doing. Learn the talk of the trade and be able to discuss the talent or interest with your child. This not only shows your child you are interested; it gives you and your teen a topic (or series of topics) to talk about. Having this common interest can help you and your teen have meaningful communication - especially when there are other communication challenges. (Have no interest in spiders and their habitats, you say? Remember when you were dating? You learned about a lot of things to impress people that you did not know if they would be present in your life the next day. You can do this for your child.)

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