What is your child passionate about? Does your daughter love princesses? Pretend she is one? Does she create kingdoms, languages, currency, laws, and punishments for her dolls?
Does your son dream of space? Star Wars, the Space Shuttle, Neil Armstrong, whatever, as long as it happens in space – past, present, or future…
Trevor, while passionate about typical nine-year-old boy things like LEGO, Star Wars, and… um… LEGO Star Wars, has a budding interest in photography.
As young as five, he’d take my camera when I wasn’t looking and try to enlist a willing accomplice to help him out. If you’ve never tried letting your little ones use your camera, you should. Their perspective can be really cool. Just make a rule that the strap always needs to be around their neck and they need to use both hands. Your camera will be fine… and if it breaks, there’s a lesson in that, too. Things are replaceable (and the hard work a child will need to do to earn the money to replace a valuable he’s broken is a lifelong lesson), but self-worth is not.
At nine, Trevor still fancies himself a photographer, and is careful to make sure he’s taking valuable shots. He shoots, and then checks his image to determine if another needs taken:
And, because his passions are recognized, and validated, his self-esteem goes up when he has a camera in his hand. In these photos, he’s using my Canon Rebel XTi. Usually, he shoots his pictures with a Samsung we found for a song at a going-out-of-business sale a few years ago. He’s had to work his way up, too, proving that he’s careful and respects the equipment. He started with a Fisher Price digital, and now loves his Samsung (though he still borrows my Canon from time to time).
By helping your child get his hands on the tools that he needs to explore passions, you’re validating his worth as an individual. You’re telling him that, no matter how hard it is for him to sit still during a class, whether or not he understood the math concept presented today, even though he cannot wear seams near his skin, or be in rooms where there is a lot of background noise to filter out, no matter what “quirks” he has to overcome, he has value.
Sometimes, all it takes for a twice-exceptional kid to become truly exceptional is someone that believes in him.
Now… my 2E kid is experimenting with reflected light using a simple light box (table-top photo studio) so he can get “great shots without too many shadows” for the stop-action animation films he wants to create. Maybe a You Tube channel next…