Three Ways To Help Your Child find their life calling

Laura Sandefer

February 16, 2018

At Acton Academy, we believe that each child is a genius who has the potential to change the world. We use the framework of heroes to describe this journey. Here are three concepts you can use in your family to help your child embrace their hero’s journey to find a calling that will change the world.

1. Look for sparks and gifts in your child.
As parents, we often wonder how we can encourage our children to excel and develop talents. Are great athletes and musicians made or are they born that way? Science is indicating that it isn’t simply natural talent that leads to accomplishments but rather it’s the combination of pursuing your talents with grit. Angela Duckworth, a leading expert on developing grit, suggests that “The most successful people in life are both talented and gritty.”

“It starts with a spark,” Daniel Coyle, author of The Talent Code noted in an interview. Children begin to show interests at a very young age. If your child is passionate about making music, sign them up for piano lessons. If your budding entrepreneur is selling rocks in the driveway to make extra money, consider having them attend the Acton Children’s business fair or local farmers market. When your child continues to explore interests and try new things, this will help them develop important awareness of their strengths. Watching for what sparks your child’s interest and fostering this awareness will help them find their life’s calling.

Children’s personalities and interests fluctuate considerably. With this in mind, parents are encouraged to not overwhelm their child with a particular activity simply because they show an interest. Encouraging diverse activities and experiences will help children have well rounded opportunities to find their talents and interests!

2. Parent with a growth mindset and encourage risk taking.
Carol Dweck professor at Stanford University said, “If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning.” We want to encourage our children to use their passions and skills to serve the world and encourage them to expect hardship and persevere when challenges come. Life is hard and a sense of entitlement only breeds disappointment. Creating a culture of accepting hard challenges with courage and learning from failures will produce a resilient child who is eager to find their life’s calling. “Your vocation,” wrote Frederick Buechner, “is that place where your deep joy and the world’s deep need meet.”

So what is a growth mindset? Here are three practical tips from author Mesilla Taylor.

“What did you learn to day?”
“What mistake did you make that taught you something?
“What did you try hard at today?”

3. Help your child develop a concern for their community and world while modeling what it means to live a calling yourself.
Children begin to develop a curiosity about their future as they expand their gifts and explore their world. Bryan Dik Ph.D said “For children who are insulated from the world around them, the source of motivation may center around themselves. For those who visit unfamiliar places, build new relationships with peers outside their comfort zone, and experience the plight of those much less fortunate, their motivation will likely better account for the experiences of others.” Parents are encouraged to travel with their children and volunteer for local humanitarian efforts to help connect their children with a sense of awareness of the world.

As parents, our children likely learn more from what we do than what we say. Discussing your own life goals and motivation will help your child connect deeply with the process of working toward your life’s calling. Letting your child see you doing hard things, making mistakes, and rebooting will give them first hand experience with resilience. Its often easy to forget that as parents we too are on a hero’s journey to find a calling to change the world!

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Middle School is where young people rapidly start owning their education. Middle school is the perfect time to develop intellect and character while gaining a deeper sense of self and the real world. Students have a broad palette of topics to study and pair in-depth academic exploration with real-world connections to experts and local apprenticeships. Middle School is about deepening a passion for individual subjects while broadening your understanding of yourself and your future.