10 Ways to Identify and Ignite the Spark in Your Child


Hidden in each of our children are sparks of greatness. Even from a young age I began to see in each of my kids desires, passions, gifts, and abilities. Some sparks are more innate than others, some may be more obvious, and some we discover along the journey of life.

But what if my kids have gifts and abilities that I don’t have? What if I don’t enjoy the things they do? How do I engage with my kids at each age and enter into the things that they love? Do I even know what makes my kids come alive?

Last year I read a book called The Spark by Kristine Barnett. It’s an incredibly inspiring story that helped me look at my own children’s gifts and talents and challenged me to think about how I can encourage them and help them grow. I want to be able to draw out the potential in my children so they flourish in life. Here is what my experience has taught me.
identify your child's strengths

10 Ways to Identify and Ignite the Spark in your Child:

  1. Ask and listen. Ask them what they love to do. What makes them smile when they are doing it? What are they interested in learning? Really listen.
  2. Read together. Read lots of books together and see which ones they love. Ask questions as you read.
  3. Go to the library. Go to the story time or let them peruse the shelves and pick out the books or pictures that are the most interesting to them.
  4. Get out in nature. What do they love when you’re outside together? Do they love building forts out of sticks, playing in the mud and finding bugs, collecting rocks, or sitting quietly and observing. All those things give us insight into what they appreciate in life.
  5. Play games together. Do they love games with strategy, numbers, humor, that involve one person or a lot of people, etc?
  6. Share a Journal. I stole this idea from a friend, and it has been so fun. I bought a journal and my daughter and I take turns asking each other questions and writing back and forth to one another in it. It helps us both as introverts and internal processors, and fosters our love of writing and one another. It gives great insight into what makes her tick.
  7. Get a membership to or visit places like OMSI, the Children’s Museum or Zoo. These places help foster learning and experiences that I can’t give them at home. Let them choose the activity or exhibit while you’re there.
  8. Use the Internet. I know there has to be a limit on screen time, but the internet is full of resources (many of them for free, which is in my budget) and knowledge that I don’t have personally. My daughter likes to code. I don’t have the first clue as to how to do that but there are programs that she can do online that feed that spark.
  9. Find others to help. If you see a passion in your kids and you don’t know how to fan the flame, ask someone who can. My husband has talents and gifts that I don’t, so he can step in. Call in other friends and family. My daughter loves to sew, knit and crochet. I do none of these, but my family members do, so she was able to learn.
  10. Encourage them. When you see them do something well, they work hard at something, they try something new, and you see their strengths…TELL THEM. Encouragement and praise are vital for fanning the spark into a flame.

I find being a student of my kids and tuning into what makes them come alive spurs them on, helps them become who they are made to be, and benefits our relationship. I want to be my kids biggest fans, even if it means I cheer them on in something I can’t relate to at all.

What about you? How do you identify your child’s strengths and encourage them to flourish?

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Jody grew up in a small town in Central Oregon, graduated from Oregon State University, traveled to Africa for three months and, upon returning, moved to Montana to be near her then fiancé. They lived in Bozeman, Montana for nine years working on the Montana State campus in full-time ministry. They now have lived in SE Portland for nearly eight years and work part-time with the same faith-based non-profit. She is also now a business owner and helps others find health and happiness through Plexus. She has been married for 16 years and they have two beautiful kids. Their 11 year-old daughter is a miracle biological child after years of infertility, and their son 7 is a miracle child through the gift of adoption. Jody loves living in beautiful Portland where flowers are always in bloom and there is always an adventure around the corner to be had. She loves Jesus, coffee, a good book, deep conversation with people she loves, being intentional to love those around her, hosting events in their backyard, sausage, beer, traveling, and being a wife and mom. The beach is her happy place. She also blogs occasionally at jodymccomas.com about motherhood and ministry.


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