Admire a Child; Inspire a Child
As I was responding to a parent in our The Writer’s Jungle Online class, a comment she made struck me. She wanted to know how to inspire her child to write.
We often get tricked into thinking that finding the right topic or curricula, being creative or imaginative ourselves will lead to inspiration. And many mothers are exhausted, not feeling all that creative ourselves and wonder how we’ll muster inspiration for one, let alone two.
Let me put you at ease. It’s not hard to inspire children. They thrive under a certain condition. The condition is as follows:
Admire your kids.
It’s really that simple.
Notice what they are good at and praise it. If you have a child who is good at yo-yoing, notice. Say so. Today. If your son is a whiz at the remote control and setting the Tivo again for you (since you haven’t bothered to learn how to do it… – yes, that would be me), compliment that son.
If your daughter has stacked up sixteen American Girl catalogs and has the pages flipped down for her favorite pages and then asterisked each outfit she hopes to buy this year, pluck one out of the pile and ask her to take you on a journey of her selections. Yes, this is my nine year old daughter’s favorite pastime.
Ask questions that give your child the opportunity to be an expert. Be genuine. Don’t use leading questions where you hope to turn the conversation to an “educational” topic. Rather, be curious and marvel at how smart your son is, how adept or creative your teen is, how serious and calculating your daughter is.
Admire them for their interests and capacities.
How does this foster good writing? Several ways.
- You are learning to be an appreciative audience.
- You are facilitating the development of vocabulary around a topic of significant interest.
- You are tuning in to your child’s interests and can remember what they are when a writing opportunity comes up. Hey, Liam, want to write about how you learned to do an “around the world” with your yo-yo for Grandma? She’d love to hear.
- Your child learns to trust you. You find the things he is interested in, interesting. The child stops the guesswork of what would please you when you ask him to write and instead, will offer you what pleases him because he knows you will value it.
So find a way to admire your child today. And tomorrow. And the next day. Over time, your child won’t find writing so difficult because she will know that her audience loves to hear what she has to say.