Tips on How to Help Children Explore Their Talents

Tips on How to Help Children Explore Their Talents

Understanding what our own talents are is a difficult thing to do even for adults and it is especially challenging to help your children figure out theirs. So many times, you will see in youth sports and performing arts such as playing a guitar or the piano, singing a solo, or participating in a high school play, it is evident that one child is not as good as the other kids are at an activity, and that’s okay. Where the problems often arise are when kids do not live up to their parent’s or coach’s expectations. This can be a very confusing time for the parents, coaches and the child. It can also be very difficult to observe as a parent or coach uninvolved with the issue. Frank Emsick founder of Uvolv provides insight for parents to explore their youth’s talents and some basic things to look for to help them with the decisions about what youth activities to participate in.

Appreciating Motivating Factors in Children

We have all been there as parents where we witness natural talents in our children or their teammates and for some reason the child isn’t as excited about the activity as the parents are. We see it in adults too, whether at work or home when adults are not excited about doing something. Understanding what motivates athletes, performers, artists and all people in general is truly one of the great mysteries of mankind.  Uvolv is designed to help parents discover the true talents of their children through education and sharing of common knowledge from parents and coaches who have experience with these valuable learnings. For example, parents need help knowing what to look for in a pianist versus a soccer player. This information is not widely available to assist them in this process.

Instead the information is confined within the minds of the experts in each respective activity’s coach or director. It isn’t shared because there truly is not a place to share the information. Whether the parents have their own perspective of how they want their children to be or what they want them to become in life is most likely part of what creates some of these “blind-spots”. In some cases, the parents seem to have an effortless process of witnessing their child change activities or even decide that they do not want to participate in certain activities. Emsick has witnessed parental reactions firsthand and has captured their experiences to help others and share relevant information. We have put together some information for parents to consider as they assist their child in finding their talents. We are also searching for coaches, parents, league directors, administrators, referees and anyone else who has advice to offer parents and coaches. If you have interest in this program please contact us at

Why do You Want Your Child to be Involved in this Activity?

It is true that if you try hard enough you can be “good” at anything – but can you be great? Is it necessary to be the greatest or is it okay to just be involved? Emsick believes children excel by being involved in as many activities as you can balance as parents because children need to be participating in these youth activities and organizations to help them become thriving young adults. Your involvement is very important to their overall success in life, but there are prices to pay for both parents and children. It is important to ask yourself, what is it that I want my child to get out of this activity? We encourage parents to focus on the bigger picture and not the wins, loses or mistakes. Truly in life, competition can get the best of us all whether it be in sports or in the arts. There is no doubt that somewhere within us all we have some gifts that we are naturally good at. Even if you believe your child will be the best chess player in the world someday you might also want to be sure that it isn’t just your dream you have for them to achieve. Your goal may be to get your child exposed to other activities that they have a knack for or simply that you want them to burn off some energy, so they can sleep at night! Regardless of the reason, these experiences create opportunities for our youth and you as parents can see if they are good at one of these activities and whether they should continue with the activity.

Participation versus Winning

Many of you might be wondering, why focus so much on being good? Other than the obvious reasons that most parents and kids want to be the best, some truly just want to be involved and participate. Participation is most important for those who can be satisfied and happy doing that, and we commend them. For some reason though, most people are wired to want to be the best and all-too-often if they cannot achieve the highest ranking or the starting position then kids and parents disengage. We believe this disengagement is due to many factors, not the least of which is that they don’t feel as appreciated by their teammates, coaches or parents. Kids are not unlike adults, we are most apt to participate in the events where we can win and have the most success. We believe this is simply human nature, but we equally value participation and winning.

It usually doesn’t take but one or two seasons to learn where your child stacks up against the others and begin to formulate his or her feelings about the activity. According to Emsick, “their opinions are easily influenced up through age 12 (5th grade).” It’s okay to encourage your child, with reasonable, verbal communication (not physical) to participate in activities that you believe they will excel at or even if you want them to just give it a try.  Maybe they aren’t outgoing, but they have a friend on the team or perhaps they are overweight, and you want them to get exercise and learn to live a healthy lifestyle. These are normal reasons why a parent might push their child into something and we encourage it. Most importantly ensure the activity does not become too stressful or overwhelming for the child. Uvolv’s foundation believes it is beneficial to let the coaches know about the situation so that they might assist with the process of helping motivate the child. This can backfire though as some coaches focus more on winning than the needs of the kids even in non-select leagues.

Listen to What Your Child Tells You

This seems so cliché, but what it comes down to is that most of the time your child has been telling you all along what they do or don’t want to do. It is important for parents to resist the temptation to coerce or force the child to go out for an activity such as football, basketball, soccer or stay in the band or choir. It is a good idea to make sure your children finish what they start, but you will have to make sure it was something they started. In other words, if you signed him up against their wishes then you should consider their opinion about whether to stay in the youth sport or performing arts organization or not. Believe what they say and come up with solutions to the problems they present to you. Do not just shrug off their disengagement as being lazy or some sort of calculated defiance. Believe what they say and become a problem solver to help remove their anxiety or fix the issue they present.