Supporting my children has always been a very important part of my parenting journey. Whether it's helping them pursue a small goal or a much larger dream, I want them to always know I will always be 100 percent behind them.

Recently, I had the opportunity to show my support when both of my girls came to me asking for help in pursuing some goals. 

My oldest daughter, Abbey, has decided she wants to become a vegetarian. My youngest daughter, Jaiden, has recently taken on on the responsibility of coaching her very own volleyball team.

Though these are both starting out as short-term endeavors, there is no telling where these goals may eventually take them, given the right type of encouragement.

Here are some ways I've learned I can actively support my children when it comes to helping them pursue their passions and interests.

1. Listen. Every child is unique and so are their interests. As kids explore their passions, it’s important to listen to what they value most. I have always tried to give my children the opportunity to express themselves and provide input regarding the extracurricular activities they participate in.

2. Be there. Not only do you want to listen, but it’s important to be present to support their interests as well. Throughout my children’s lives, there are few events I haven’t attended. I have always found it important to cheer my children on by actively engaging in their interests and being present for the events they find most important.

3. Join them. With Abbey’s recent interest and desire to become a vegetarian, I want her to know I fully support her decision. I believe part of that support includes trying the new foods alongside her and a willingness to try different recipes. I believe this is crucial to her journey because I want her to know she doesn’t have to feel alone. Even if it’s not something I continue long-term, it’s nice to feel someone is supporting her along the way.

4. Give encouragement. Supporting your children’s interests includes encouraging and reinforcing positive behavior. Jaiden has already encountered some obstacles in her current coaching endeavor. I don’t want her to become frustrated or discouraged to the point where she gives up, so I make sure to encourage her and the new ideas she comes up with. I also try to help her realize the potential of these ideas by helping her put them into action.

5. Guide them. This doesn’t mean doing it for them. However, kids sometimes need guidance — especially if they are just starting something new. In my case, I have done a lot more cooking than Abbey, so I am willing to play a large role in helping her discover new dishes. At the same time, she should also help me create the meals. If she wants this to become a long-term part of her life, she will need to know how to be able to cook these meals on her own. As an added bonus, she and I can get in some quality bonding time.

6. Embrace failure. Failing at something you really want to accomplish is difficult, but it’s an important part of life. I want my children to understand that failing isn’t about making a mistake, but learning how to do it better for the next time. Learning how to embrace failure and the lessons they learn will help my children as they continue on into adulthood.

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Amanda Smith, a working mom of two children, writes weekly for momaha.comRead more from Amanda »

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