Inspiring your children to explore their interests fosters creativity, open-mindedness, and growth that can help them throughout their lives.

By Danielle Sabrina
February 25, 2021
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An illustration of a mom and her daughter.
Credit: Illustration by: Caitlin-Marie Miner Ong.

As a mom of two young adults, I've come to believe that one of the most important traits we can foster in our children is their curiosity. Children have a natural disposition to be fascinated with the world around them. As they grow older, we have a tendency as parents to get in the way of our children's urge to discover by unknowingly spending all of our energy trying to tell them what they should do or become.

But it's never too late to foster curiosity and encourage kids to explore their own passions. And if we let them do so at a young age when they're simply overjoyed to be alive, they will often rise to the occasion and find opportunities to explore all the things they are passionate about.

Following your passion and doing what you love doesn't always turn into a career path or a successful business—and that's fine. In fact, part of finding your passion is releasing the idea that the process needs to result in a specific outcome or something tangible. Finding your passion is a journey and one that you never fully arrive at because, as humans, we're always evolving and finding new ways to bring joy into our lives.

Opening this door for a child is important and can foster growth and open-mindedness. Here's how to do it.

Lead by Example

If you want to encourage your kids to follow their passion, show them you're also following yours. Don't know what your dreams are? This could be an opportunity for both you and your child to explore together. What makes you happy? Maybe it's talking to others. Maybe it's going for a jog, sitting in a cafe, or calmly thinking about how lucky we are to be alive. Show them that it's not only OK to make time for your passion but to treat it with priority just as you would any high-level commitment. But also show them it's OK to be interested in something and then move on from it when it has lost its appeal.

Create Time and Space

Between homework, sports, and extracurricular activities, there's not always much time for exploring. Be mindful to provide the time and space for your children to use their imagination and simply just play no matter how old they are.

Just be patient: Since some kids are used to so much external stimulation, even if they're given the time to be present with themselves, sitting long enough to inspire creative inspiration can be difficult.

Let Kids Make Their Own Decisions

Give your child as much power to make decisions for themselves as possible. Doing so inspires confidence, and in my opinion, when children feel strong and capable, they're less likely to not try something out of fear of being judged.

Having the confidence to try new things without being paralyzed with fear creates so many more opportunities for your child to step out of their comfort zone.

Be OK with Mistakes

I always tell my daughters that if they're not making mistakes, they might not be giving themselves the opportunity to find out more about themselves and the world around them.

When we don't fear making mistakes, we grow more confident and develop the resilience to fully live life and embody all the experiences it has to offer.

Talk About Stereotypes

Giving your child the space to find and explore their passion may not always make sense or look "normal" to others. We can even unknowingly characterize our children's personality type, which can create a false persona our children might feel obligated to live up to. Your child might even suppress things they find joy in simply because they're afraid of a stereotype they innocently overheard in a conversation. (Maybe your son loves playing dress-up and he could become the next fashion mogul, but he overheard a family member comment that they can't understand why some boys want to wear dresses.)

I encourage discussing stereotypes around both parenting and children as a family. After all, even as a parent, it's easy to let "ideal" ways of parenting guide you from time to time. We're so afraid of letting our children down—or having others judge us—that we sometimes don't follow our own instincts. Conversation can help clear the airways.

Encourage Them to Feel Their Feelings

Ask your children how they feel doing the things that give them joy. Ask them to describe the feeling. By asking these questions, you're helping your child anchor positive patterns in their nervous system that tell our subconscious brain that we want more of these experiences.

How great will it be for your child as they go through life to be able to recognize things that make them feel alive and passionate? Who knows what the future could bring with that type of guidance system driving their life.

Danielle Sabrina is the founder of Tribe Builder Media, a hybrid agency that connects the worlds of digital marketing, public relations, and experiential marketing. CIO named her a female entrepreneur to follow and she's a member of the Forbes Agency Council.