This is a guest post by Rachel Collins.

How great would it be if our children were delivered with their very own set of instructions, giving you an idea as to what kind of little miracle you're about to hold? Such information could help a parent know which way to point their child along the journey to becoming a successful adult. But since no such little instruction booklet is included, we have to work to discover, along with our child, just who they are.

Begin with Character

Character is the core and most important part of your child's identity. Just as the ABC's are the foundation of the English language, character is the concrete slab that all their other talents and abilities will be built upon. It is important to focus on those traits and qualities in your child that form his or her unique nature. Things like being loving, truthful, honest, peaceful, kind, encouraging, hardworking, tenacious, fair, generous, helpful, grateful, patient, humble, courageous, and compassionate, to name just a few. Character traits are those hidden treasures inside that show up in the actions and words of your child — like when you see them helping their sibling, or including another child who was left out of an activity.

When you witness these character traits being exhibited, it's essential to reward their behavior with affirmation. It instills in the child the value of these character traits and acts as a constant reminder of who they are as an individual. For example: "You are such a hard worker." Or, "I love that you never give up. You kept working on that problem until you got it right. Good job." Another example might be, "It's terrific the way you encourage so many people by seeing the bright side of things. I am proud of you."

When properly encouraged, all of your child's wonderful character traits will strengthen the foundation of your child's identity. Why is this important? Because while ever child is beautiful, beauty can fade. A well-formed identity based upon strength of character can carry a child into adulthood and success.

Give Your Child's Abilities and Talents a Boost

We all have hopes and dreams for our children, but sometimes we can forget that raising them isn't about us — it's about them. Their interests. Their gifts. And so, as parents, let the focus and dreams be theirs instead of yours. Help find and foster the inner drive of your child's soul. You can do this through observation. Watch them when they are playing and don't realize anyone else is around. Pay attention when your daughter is continually asking you to help her with something she really wants to do. Ask yourself what kind of things you see your child doing on a regular basis. Are they singing, or drawing, or always throwing a ball around? Does your son love doing math problems or building things?

When you see your child's interest, love, and drive pointing them in a particular direction, it is a great opportunity to add a little assistance. There was a child that would use anything within reach as drum sticks. He would use his pencils to beat on the car's seat in front of him. Finally the parents decided to buy the boy a child's drum set and soon found he was not just making noise but had a true rhythm. But what about the little artist? Try taking them to an art gallery, purchase some art supplies. See where it leads. Does their interest grow? Or are they on to something else? Be careful not to move on every whim of the child, however. That would be costly to you and confusing for everyone involved. Instead, spend time observing what truly motivates them and move forward in small steps, because sometimes big ones can overwhelm a budding talent.

When you work with your child to develop their talent, you are building his character at the same time, so remember the old saying, practice makes perfect. Just like the rest of us, they will not get it right every time, but even such a little stumble is a good opportunity for encouragement and character-building. "I know you didn't like the way the picture turned out, but what's important is that you tried and worked really hard. I am proud of you. There is always another picture to paint."

A child is more important than their talent or ability. Your response to their lack of perfection will help them understand that and keep their identity from being confused with their ability.

Good luck and have fun discovering your child.

Rachel is the mother of three daughters and the grandmother of two girls and a boy. She discovered a love for children early on and was inspired to teach Sunday School classes while still a teenager. She earned a promotion to lead the entire Children's Church program, which in turn led to the offer of a position as Children's Director at a larger church. Driven by her creative lessons, characters, and skits, her program grew from forty children to over four hundred. Before long, other churches and schools from across the area were reaching out to find out her methods for reaching and teaching the next generation.