Motivating Your Kids by Finding Their Passion

iStock_000010133651Medium (Bored school boy)

By Jayne Berkaw

We hear it so often these days from mentors, teachers, gurus and talk show hosts:  Find Your Passion.  It’s said so often it sounds a bit cliché.  But no matter how you slice it, it’s still true. Through passion you get motivation, and motivation leads to positive action and, well, that’s a great combination for success.

I’ve visited a zillion websites looking for sage advice on this topic, and reflected on my own experience as a parent, and here’s what finding the passion in your kids boiled down to for me:

  1. Make sure your children know that everything they do matters – to themselves, to you and the rest of the family, to their teachers and to the entire universe!  When my kids did a report for school, I always asked them to give the teacher a little more than he or she asked for.  When they played sports, we let them know that bad behavior would not be tolerated – being a good sport matters.   Explain to them that if they accept second-rate now, where does it end?
  2. Nurture their interests. In our family, we’ve always been first in line to see new movies and had fun discussing them afterward.  That sparked our younger boys to start making movies with my old clunker movie camera (which I hauled in to the repair shop more than once).  They made movies day and night, eventually saved up to get better cameras and editing programs, wrote scripts, signed up extra “talent,” and basically had a blast pursuing this dream. They got A’s on school projects by turning reports into movies. They were very popular babysitters, because their charges couldn’t wait to make a movie!

One of our boys went so far as to attend production programs in Los Angelas, CA and then interned for some pretty big producers (btw, he borrowed money from us to attend these expensive sessions, and paid it back faithfully – because itmattered.) Did he go on to a life in movies? No. I won’t lie, there was a sigh of relief in that for us, but we had held our tongues and enjoyed all of his productions. While he was busy movie making, he was also developing a serious interest in history and political science, and when it came time for decisions, he went with his heart – and that was the law.  He is, however, still an expert on movies, and his best movie-making buddy is now in film school and made this YouTube post for FamilyMint.  You just never know what will happen if you let them explore their interests and define their passions!

Just like handling money, kids need practice to develop confidence that they can not only manage but make the most of what life offers them.

Tell them stories of success – especially yours and that of other family members, but also of inspiring individuals – including kids who’ve done amazing things by following a dream.  If they say they really like something, make it possible for them to learn more, even if it’s not your cup of tea.

Be their best cheerleaders, and be a sponge for their ideas and dreams without ever judging what you hear. Then just love them and act the facilitator.

My husband and I have often observed that our kids are much more passionate than we ever were, but in truth, they are our passion now. And as they get older, and grandchildren enter the picture, there is even more to feel passionate about.  Life is funny - and good.