How can you trigger the “sense of purpose” in your child?

“Billy was 12 and in junior high school when his father passed away. He was left with an older brother who was in class X and a mother who was a stay-at-home wife. Although heartbroken, Billy decided that he would stop his erratic behavior and strive to be a better son from now on. He will stay strong for his mother and never be a cause of concern, academically or otherwise.”

So, what happened here?

Did a 12 year old kid suddenly turn into an adult?

No! But an obnoxious and dependent child became kind and responsible. He can take care of homework by himself, doesn’t complain about food, excels in class, extracurricular activities, and tries to become the best version of himself.

The traumatizing incident had changed him and infused him with a sense of purpose.

‘Purpose’ can be a powerful thing!

It is like an epiphany that suddenly makes you ask the bigger questions or see the bigger picture. It can be the best driver that keeps you motivated until you achieve the goals you have set.

Purpose is similar to following a passion, but not definitively. Unlike passion where the person is more character-driven or highly influenced by one or more idols, purpose is basically linked to personal dedication. In simple words, while passion allows you to follow others footsteps, purpose makes you seek your own.

How purposeful is today’s child?

To say whether or not a child has the sense of purpose isn’t a difficult question for parents anymore. Most of them would answer ‘No’ in a jiffy. The current generation lacks purpose big time and most of them would simply be unaware of the concept.

How to trigger “sense of purpose”?

Creating a strong and definite purpose in your child’s life doesn’t have to be a product of hardships and trauma all the tim. And there are many other ways of making it happen.

Encourage your older child to take care of the younger ones – Putting trust in your older kid when it comes to looking after her/his younger siblings can go a long way. By doing so, you are trying to endow your child with a responsibility s/he has never been given. Getting through the process will create different experiences that would teach your child important life lessons.  

Take their opinion in matters where you never included them before – Discuss things like work or have open conversations about things the family can do to save money. Parents often try to keep such conversations off limit from their kids because they are under the impression that the kids are too naive to be a part of it. If parents express themselves or discuss such matters in a gentle manner, it will inspire the teenager to feel concerned and mature.

Pay attention to things they are interested in and provide your support – Parents often deem the interests of their children silly. They either choose not to pay complete attention or fully disagree to provide any kind of support thereafter. This lets the kids down in their own eyes. On the other hands, parents who are supportive and allow their children to get involved in their own pursuits can easily sow the first seeds of ‘purpose’. When you listen to the child, the child listens to you!

Share your wisdom but give them the lead – Find better ways to share your positiveness but let your kids choose their own path. Your accomplishments and experience might make you the best judge for them, but step back for a moment and let them take the lead. Instead of designing the path for them, simply work on instilling the wisdom in your child and play the supporting role rather than the lead. Observe how they implement your wisdom over life’s hardships and failings. The experience will fill them with purpose in the process.

For a child, growing up is the most important phase where every other day brings some kind of experience. As a parent, you can find various opportunities in this phase where you can easily pass on your wisdom instead of forcing it on them. Heavy-handedness might work in the beginning, but it eventually backfires. Tread lightly and find meaningful moments when you can let them understand the meaning of purpose and see them shine.

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