Research shows that children rarely find their sense of purpose in things they were told to do by their parents. Instead, purposeful kids attribute their sense of meaning to the menu of options they were exposed to throughout their childhood and their ability to choose for themselves.

We can best support our child’s sense of purpose by noticing their sparks of interest and presenting them with a range of possibilities that align with those intrinsic interests. It’s tempting to think we know what is best for our children, but imposing these ideas on them rarely builds the purpose we were hoping for. Here are some direct tips to help you out:

1. Ask specifically what your child found most interesting in their different school subjects. What was the most interesting unit you did in science this year? Sometimes kids don’t think to share what they like along the way but digging into the details can help them notice their interests. For example, I asked my daughter what she enjoyed most in science and she said the unit on energy and specifically sustainable energy. She hadn’t mentioned it at all as she learned it, but circling back, she now has added that to her list of types of jobs she might like to consider.

2. Have your children rate the summer camps they attend right after the camp finishes. Time does not do great things for our memory. I don’t know about you, but when we go to book summer camps it’s often hard to remember what the kids really liked from the previous summer. By having them rate how much they enjoyed the camps they attended in the moment, it will help you look back and hone in next year’s selections to nurture their interests. I ask my kids for a score out of 100 and a few details of why they gave that score. I keep a record that we can review as the next summer approaches.

Download a copy of an infographic about purpose and getting on board with your child’s interests by clicking here. You can also follow along on our Facebook page for video tips to help you get on board with your child’s interest!