Celebrating your child’s unique gifts and individuality
A parent’s guide on how to find their inner musician when they’re not cut out for soccer
By Karen Braveheart
April 2014- Ryan 4 years old
When Ryan was in Kindergarten, some of my mom friends asked me if he wanted to play soccer.
So, I asked Ryan- would you like to play soccer with your friends?
He said OK and I signed him up for soccer on Fridays at 4pm after school. Ryan was 5, Justin was 3, and Sophia was 7. It wasn’t easy getting out of the house then especially on a Friday at 4pm when the munchkins were tired from their week. I was determined to make it work and support Ryan in trying out something new.
On the first Friday, we showed up to our local community park. There was a very big grass field adjacent to a parking lot and a playground nearby. I set up a blanket on the grassy area next to the playground and walked Ryan on to the far field to introduce him to the soccer coaches.
I returned to the blanket area with Justin and set him up with some toys and snacks. Looking around I realized I was the only parent who brought my other kids with me.
Sophia went to play on the nearby playground, and I could keep an eye on her.
As life with three kids happens, things can be totally calm one minute and then chaos breaks out the next- seemingly out of nowhere.
I looked at Ryan who took off running full speed off the soccer field toward the wooded area getting further away by the second and now looked like a blip on my radar.
My first instinct was to run after him so he didn’t get further away and I lost him.
As soon as I stood up, Justin being the active, curious toddler he was, suddenly bolted toward the parking lot with moving cars.
I quickly glanced over my right shoulder to check in on Sophia, and I couldn’t see her on the playground.
I was sitting with a bunch of parents who sprung into action. My dad friend sprinted after Justin and his wife said I’ll go find Sophia.
I took off running to get Ryan who was running like Forest Gump as fast as he could in the opposite direction of the soccer field.
I finally got to Ryan out of breath and asked him if he was ok.
He said he didn’t wanna play soccer. Clearly!
I told him that it was totally ok and asked him why he chose to run away. He said he was getting away from the soccer ball in his 5 year old brain. I get the problem solve and encouraged him to come tell me next time and that I got nervous I was going to lose him because he ran far away and I couldn’t see him.
He didn’t realize yet I was in full on mom mode sweating my ass off on a hot San Diego day and stressed out!
I quickly looked over and saw one of my dad friends playing with Justin and my mom friend was watching Sophia for me who was on the other side of the playground.
When we reunited with my friends on my blanket, they were laughing hysterically. You know- the kind that you look at someone and just start laughing kind!?!?!
They were parents of an only child and never experienced the chaos of having multiple children that can happen in a split second- though this was my life.
This was why I never went to parks or the playground to meet up on playdates if it didn’t have an enclosed fence with a gate that locks. I was afraid I’d lose a kid even though there’s strength in numbers and my moms friends and I would each take a section of the playground and watch the kids in that section.
It’s funny because when you meet up with friends, you socialize, but as moms with young kids we spent more time talking to and playing with our kids and their friends! And then it was dinner time and we all headed home.
To this day, ten years later, whenever I see them, I get- hey- remember that day that you almost lost all your kids and they start laughing all over again, haha.
I’m not sure what I was thinking about doing soccer at 4pm on a Friday by myself with three kids under the age of 7 after a long week when they were tired.
I changed up our Friday routine and instead started a “Friday free day” tradition in our home. When my kids got home on a Friday, they hung up their backpacks and could have a favorite snack of their choosing. Then they got to do whatever they wanted- play on an ipad, build a Lego, do magic tricks- whatever was fun for them.
I also made them their favorite meal or we ordered something they loved.
I waited years before doing sports on a Friday again and also waited until my kids were older and could better understand team sports.
Ryan didn’t like soccer. It was a few years later that we discovered his love for football.
Let your kid lead the way by waiting until they're ready to play sports, if at all
Ryan at 15 years old high school JV football team
Ryan’s friends continued to play seasonal sports on organized teams. Soccer in the Fall and baseball in the Spring.
My friends would ask me if Ryan wanted to join, but each time he said no. I didn’t understand why at the time. Ryan always loved playing sports with us as a family and after school with his buddies.
I thought to myself- ok. Ryan doesn’t want to play team sports. He’s into other things so I didn’t force him to be on a team.
He just loved to come home and play with puzzles, his toys, legos, and Pokemon. He could play with his toys for hours.
As Ryan grew older, I noticed that he had a great throwing arm for an 8 year old. His throwing became stronger, faster, and more accurate- and he could throw far.
I would watch him with his friends and intuitively saw that he really enjoyed throwing and catching baseballs and footballs. He had a natural ability, and by the time he was 9, he could throw farther and faster than me.
From time to time, I'd ask him Ryan - do you want to play on a team with your friends and he’d say no mom- I just really like playing with my toys and my friends and at home. And, I was like- ok.
"I never pressured him"
Fast forward to the age of almost 10. Ryan was invited to his friend’s birthday party at a local park. I’ll never forget the day.
He was playing flag football with his friends and their dad- a real scrimmage game and he loved it.
The party was supposed to end at 4pm. It was 6pm and he didn’t want to stop playing football. I think he was the last one to leave the party.
In fact, we stayed an hour after the party ended b/c he didn’t want to stop throwing that football. We were the last guests to leave.
He kept telling me not to leave because I want to play more football and can he play more football with his friends after today. Of course, I responded.
It was at this moment that I asked him- Ry- do you want to play football on a team with some of your friends?
And, this time, he said yes.
That week, I enrolled him in an enrichment in the district program held after school. And he’s been playing football ever since.
Does he have aspirations to play in college? I’m not sure.
What I am sure of is that he LOVES football and knows every stat of every player in the NFL. And I enjoy watching him grow and helping support him with something he’s passionate about.
Everyone has unique gifts that are revealed in time
My children’s book coming in 2024!
That moment that Ryan approached me was one of those moments you don’t forget as a parent. That day was the day he became ready and now my job as a mom was to support him in what he finds fun.
Ryan led me to his fun.
I just merely observed his natural ability over the years and waited to see where it would take him.
He can understand all these things on a deeper level now than when he was younger. He was more mature and could understand the spirit of competition and stay focused on strategies and plays.
I believe that every child comes into their own fun at different ages and stages of life. Every child is different and that’s the beauty of their uniqueness.
What matters is that we honor our children’s truest desires and what they find fun in each individual child’s natural timing.
What impact would it have on our child if we tell them what to do. You will teach them how to reject themselves and not honor what’s inside. That only leads to feelings of disconnection and low self worth.
Instead, look for your child’s natural born gifts. We all have them. What can they do all day and never get bored? That’s their peace. That’s their passion.
It’s our job as parents to support them in that.
What gifts do you see in your child? Drop a comment below and share.
My mom didn’t see my gifts and looking back I could see them so clearly. I’m a designer and entrepreneur. I used to play with Barbies- dressing them up all day long and designing their homes. I’d also have a cash register next to me and carry it everywhere.
Today, I own Prodigi Kids and love designing content and products that connect parents and their kids in more loving moments- the building blocks to self worth.
And, I love business. I could talk to you all day about anything and everything business related.
Allow the beauty and uniqueness of your child’s gifts to come to life. Every child has gifts they’re born with and as parents, it’s our job to find and support them.
Your child may be like Ryan where you may see they have a gift, but may have to wait to support it in the way you want. Your child may not be ready or may not be interested in pursuing their gift.
In this case, you’re still unconditionally loving your child by supporting their gift at home and in the timing and way they want.
"You’re showing your child true love and self worth- the biggest gifts of all"
I’d love to hear about your child’s unique gifts and how you discovered them. Drop a comment below!
- What does your child like? Dislike?
- Do you listen to what your child likes and support it?
- What do you do to support it? Drop a comment below!
- If all your child’s friends are playing soccer and your child isn't, are you ok with that?
- To learn more about the Prodigi Kids Self Worth Parenting Paradigm, read our free eBook. You'll gain a deeper understanding of how to raise your child with core beliefs of self worth and the neuroscience behind it
- Read our blog "Discipline vs. Punishment," which does a deeper dive into exactly how our model built on love and discipline builds positive self worth. In it, I discuss how "teachable moments" and "love boundaries"- 2 terms I coined, when used daily with your child, lead to happier, healthier, and more connected relationships
- Bring our products into your home to encourage a more loving engagement with your children and support our mission to make our Self Worth Parenting Paradigm the norm!
About the Author Karen Braveheart, CEO
Karen Braveheart is an attorney turned entrepreneur and mom of three who deeply cares about making the world a happier place by changing how we raise our children. Learn more