Every kid dreams of being someone he wants to be as he grows up. When you were a kid, perhaps you had a dream, but your parents never encouraged you, or maybe they weren’t so thrilled with your idea and taught you to pursue something else. Whatever your experience was as a kid, you have the choice now to help your kids to make them accomplish something worthwhile in the future.
As a parent, your job is to nurture their ability to dream and help them pursue it. Helping them to dream big is an important task for you as a parent. Kids and teens who believe that they have a bright future ahead of them tend to avoid risky and undisciplined behavior. When they are passionate about a sport or an activity because they have a dream, they have less time and less desire to get in trouble. When they are excited about having a specific career and getting to a specific college, they will avoid actions that will derail their dreams. Encouraging your child to follow a dream will be substantial in building character and a good future for your kid.
So how can you do it? Here are some tips:
1. Get to know your child
Spend time with your child and observe their likes and dislikes. Watch for her strengths and weaknesses. Listen to what your child talks about. Know his interests and what subject or activity he excels in at school. Get to know your child. Their dreams will change, their interests will fade and will be replaced with another, but if you are intentionally getting to know them, you can see his natural talents and gifts to rise to the surface. Kids won’t always see this, so you can point out what he is really good at. Then, you can find ways for him to use that skill or gift.
2. Give your kids time to talk
If you never ask your child about what they want to do in the future, then they will probably never tell you. Show your interest in their likes. They will love you for it. Your kid may say that he wants to be a Hollywood actor, a boyband member, rock star, astronaut in space or President of the United States – it may seem impractical and far-fetched from now but don’t treat it like a silly thing. Take it seriously, and they will do the same. This can help show that their dreams are not silly or stupid, and it is possible to reach it if you only believe and work for it.
The first thing you can do is to share your own dreams with your child. Talk to your little ones about what you love to do and what you prefer. Tell them why you love doing this thing or that thing. Also, tell them stories about your dreams and interests when you were a kid. It will help them speak up and talk about what they want.
3. Encourage your child to have their own interests and dreams
As she tries out different things and interests, encourage her to have as many as she wants. But if your kid has a naturally focused interest in one area like science or painting, that’s good – let her excel in it. Just don’t pigeonhole a child by putting her in ballet at age four and make her do it for years. What if she wakes up at age 16 and realizes she really doesn’t like ballet, but she’s only doing it because that’s something she’s only ever done? Allow her to try many different things. You can put her in a ballet class in one summer, then the swimming class next break, and then the art class in the next. Let your kid enjoy their childhood by making them try something new! It will help them discover what they really like doing.
Everyone is passionate about something – or something that makes them excited. Take the time to see it and find out what makes your child’s eyes light up. Then encourage and support them. If they get excited about art, sign her up for art classes. Provide art materials at home and give them a good art desk. If he can’t stop talking about dinosaurs, find a good science program. Provide learning materials about dinosaurs and science. Encourage their creativity and interests and let them experience the joy of their excitement. A lot of people who are happy and passionate about their careers find out they already love doing it (or at least an activity related to it) when they were still in their childhood or teenage years.
4. Support your child’s self-confidence
Raise your child to be self-confident and optimistic, but not arrogant. It can be difficult to find balance in this, but the best way to do this is to teach respect and assume the responsibilities of their acts. Trust them to believe in themselves but not brag about it in others.
Some kids dream of working in the office like their mom, or being an engineer like their dad. But some children dream of a career that seems to be difficult to achieve, considering the kind of family and community they are coming from. But this is an opportunity to boost their confidence. If they are passionate about it, they will continue to pursue it because they love doing it, even if there are obstacles. The outside world is already filled with negativity, so you don’t need to be someone who will bring them down as well.
5. Let your child follow their own dreams, not yours
For many parents, it’s easy to superimpose your own dreams and success to your own children. But your kids – though they came from your DNA – are completely different individuals who have aspirations that can be entirely separate from your own. You may be a family of surgeons, but if your child wants to be a chef, let them be. Don’t take it the wrong way or as a parenting failure – instead, try to welcome the variety.
Yes, having a child that’s also passionate about the things you are interested in, it doubles the pleasure but if they don’t really like it, don’t force it. Pushing your own interests and dreams unto them will often lead to rebellion or apathy. Or they may try and try to like it to please you, and they will feel disappointed in themselves if they end up being mediocre in it while you excel in your field. If what they are wanting isn’t a sin or isn’t illegal, let them explore their dreams and give them the freedom to achieve things that you never imagined for them. After all, it is their life, not yours.
6. Be a good example
Children do what they see, not just what they hear or taught about. Foster an environment of success in the home to inspire your child. Spend the time to work on your dream to show your child how determined you are and how you pursue your own dreams and goals.
Have you always wanted to start a blog? To set up a baking business? To earn a degree? Go on and follow it. You can’t always encourage your kids to follow their own dreams if you are not showing them a proper example of what it looks like to work for what you want.
7. Teach them to set goals
Encouraging them to follow their dreams is good, but it won’t get accomplished unless you establish short-term goals and plans that can help achieve it. You can dream of a sexy body, but unless you change your diet and exert time and effort to exercise, it won’t happen. Teach your kids to set goals, as it will serve them well on their way to adulthood. Talk about your teen’s dream in detail, then break it down into smaller goals with deadlines. Help them maintain a positive attitude by encouraging them to enjoy the small progress they achieve. Also, teach them to maneuver the obstacles they encounter and not easily give up when hitting roadblocks. A lot of success stories come with trying over and over until they finally reach the goal.
8. Encourage them to fund their own dreams
If your family has limited funds, but your child wants to take additional lessons, buy a book or go to a workshop, help them find a way to earn money to pay it for themselves. You can brainstorm services they can offer or help them sell stuff online. Teach them also to save their allowance, which is half of the battle.