I have a photo of my son when he was about two holding his hand against our dining room wall where a prism of light was shining. He used to do that so he could see the colours spread out across his skin. Today, at 22, he's a cinematographer. A photographer. It's his passion.
My cousin's son is also 22. He's a very accomplished musician - he plays piano, sax and sings. He teaches and performs. Last week when my cousin was here visiting I asked her how he got involved in music. How did it start? She said when he was a baby she noticed his favourite toys were his little toy xylophone and pots and pans so when she was looking for a toddler activity for him she signed him up for parent and tot music classes. He did that for years and then started taking piano. He gave up piano to study vocal. A few years later he got mad at his mom for letting him quit piano because now he really wanted to play, so he started piano again and caught up in no time. Then he learned to play the sax. Today he spends the better part of every day listening to his own beautiful music, just as he did as a baby.
After Adam van Keorverden won a silver medal in men's kayak his mother said once he'd found the water as a kid, there was no getting him out, even when practice was at 5:30am. She refused to wake him, saying if she had to nag him to get there, it was her activity. Instead, he woke her with a coffee in hand, so she could drive him to practice.
So, how do you find that one thing your child loves so much he'll do it until he's good? I think my cousin got it right - she observed him. She saw what he liked to do and she gave him more. Van Keorverden's mom gave him more. Both understood their kids deeply and let them pursue their interests.
We've asked some of our guests "what do kids need to be successful". Here's what psychologist Oren Amitay had to say: