Ignite the Inner Glow

Help your tweens find their passion

By Sara Kendall


For some, the inner spark that lights one’s soul comes early in life. And then there are others who flounder around, searching for something that truly inspires them.

For this latter group, it takes time and experimentation to find passion. If you are concerned that your tween or young teenager is sitting on the sidelines while her friends excel at one activity or another, gentle guidance can be a strong motivator.

Have a Chat

Whether your child realizes it is planned or not, engage him in a brainstorming discussion. This can be low-key and informal but it’s crucial that you, as the parent, remember that this is about your child and what he wants, not your version of what he wants. Ask if he is interested in a group activity or going solo? What appeals to him indoors or outdoors? A sport, musical instrument or art endeavor, perhaps?

If you hear “that’s not for me” over and again, then go beyond the obvious choices.

Beyond the Obvious

Outside the norm could be where the answer lies. Ready yourself to be surprised and most likely you won’t be. Learning how to build furniture, design clothes or know every fact about every living creature swimming in the sea are valid interests. Helping others at community centers, animal shelters or local parks can be part of her choices. Whatever sparks interest in your child, be open to it. Let her take the lead and decide on a few choices to explore.

Listen to what appeals to your child and then help him discover the possibilities. Search for demo days and free trial classes at art studios, gyms and ball parks. Look for places that incorporate your child’s interest by searching through apps, online instruction and local talent in your community. There are plenty of opportunities to volunteer. A brief introduction provides your offspring with information about what each activity entails, and it can eliminate something or, on the other hand, turn it into a “must do."

If your child is interested in a group sport, take her to see several different sporting events. By talking to her friends who play the same sport, she will have the opportunity to see what it entails. This could be the answer, but it could be a tricky route. It’s easy to do what everyone else does, but since each child is unique, encourage yours to focus on what truly interests her, not on a friend’s enthusiasm.

Let the trial runs begin. If your kid jumps from one activity to another, don’t fret or harp. It’s part of the exploration. Encourage him to give it his best effort for a reasonable amount of time before deciding that this is (or is not) for him.

Take Notice

If you find your child is not taking an activity seriously and lacks interest, talk with her about moving on to something else. Once she finds something that excites her, she will light up when she talks about it. You will know when something truly inspires her and she, in turn, will thank you for taking her there.

Well. Let's get real. He may not actually say "Thanks, Mom!" but you will know how he feels and he will ask for more. Watch for the spark to ignite.

Cheer Them On

When your child finds a passion, she will learn fast and feel good about herself. Through your love and support, you’ll help your tween or young teen boost her skill level and self-confidence. You never know where a spark will lead, so start lighting the match to your child’s passion.

Sara Kendall is a freelance writer and mother of two daughters