I love working with children. Unlike adults, their dreams have no ceiling. It’s inspiring to listen to their goals and ideas.Children start dreaming at an early age. They think about their future career, their wealth, their education, and so on. And their dreams can be huge.
As far as careers go, some will choose the typical police officer, fire fighter, or doctor. Others will choose Astronaut, Olympian, or President. If we’re talking about wealth, some will aspire to simply “have money.” Others will seek a business empire or the ability to retire at age 40 or younger.
As parents, we have more control over whether our children achieve their dreams than we might think. For kids, parents are inspiration, motivation, and leadership.
You might think that your child’s dreams are unrealistic. That’s the negative adult inside you. You should believe in your child because they believe in themselves; and you’re probably the only other support they have.
All that’s left to discuss is the how:
1. Don’t Deny Their Dreams
Children dream big; that’s what’s great about them. When you were a child you dreamed big (assuming you’re human).
Many of you probably didn’t realize the dreams you had and therefore feel your children won’t either. If that’s the case, shut up about it.
Your child’s dreams aren’t about you. As far as kids are concerned, anything is possible. And that’s how it should be. If you deny your children’s dreams, or their right to dream, you are undermining their chances of achievement.
Usually I make decisions based on probability rather than possibility. However, I can say that this is one case where we all need to think about possibility and throw probability completely out the window.
2. Don’t Get In The Way
If your children are going to realize their dream of being the first Astronaut to land on Mars, the last thing they need is you screwing things up.
Parents get in the way when they:
- Deny their children’s dreams.
- Control their children.
- Don’t teach their children life skills.
- Don’t provide a quality education.
- Preach a negative view on life.
Your goal as a parent is to meet your parental obligations and provide a path toward success for your children to follow. If you cut off your children before they even get started, it doesn’t just crush them right now, it will negatively impact them in their adult life.
3. Set a Good Example
There is a saying that children “learn what they live and live out what they learn.” As parents, our children are always looking up to us. They are proud of what we do and they use our accomplishments as a standard.
Success and wealth are products of a process; anyone can achieve them. A child who grows up in a successful family will live around that process and adopt it in their own lives later on. It will be their standard.
Consequently, being poor an unsuccessful is also a process; anyone can be that person who never made it. A child who grows up in an unsuccessful family will likely adopt that process in their own lives later on. Poor and unsuccessful will be their standard.
In many ways, you are the key to your child’s success. While many children do grow up to adopt values and processes opposite from that of their family, you shouldn’t count on it for your children. Instead, do everything within your power to make sure they are being set up to succeed.
4. Help Them Take Action
As children grow and develop they’ll begin to show interest in many different things. They’ll start to give more attention to certain things that really interest them, some of which will turn into dreams.
If your goal is to help your children achieve these dreams, you should show them how and help lead the way.
But for goals that are so far off and often so magnificent, how do we even start to provide guidance?
Have Them Write Down Their Dream. Writing down the dream allows them to see the idea in the first steps of fabrication and helps them stay accountable to their goal.
Research Their Dream. The more they learn about their dream, the more realistic it becomes. Research will also give them important information on what they’ll need in order to turn the dream into reality.
Make A Timeline For Achievement. Setting a date for achievement of a goal helps keep you focused. For children, the goal could be, “within 5 years after I graduate college”, or, “before I turn 16.”
Develop a Plan of Action. How do you plan on achieving your goal? What steps are you going to take? What education or special skill do you need to accomplish your goal?
Focus, Intensity, and Perseverance. The first step is to get focused. We’re going to bring intensity into the equation, but wild intensity will only get us running in circles. Focused intensity is the fuel that drives people to achieve.
Perseverance is the extra push you need to be able to give yourself when things start to slow down (or seem like they’re slowing down). A dream without perseverance is simply a “once was.”
Play Games. Develop games or challenges that allow your children to make small achievements. Or simply ask them if they have any smaller dreams or goals that they want to accomplish sooner and use these things as teaching tools.
If children can achieve on a small scale, they’ll learn two important things:
- Achieving on a large scale is possible.
- The process of achieving (motivation, organization, intensity, and determination) works.
The importance of this process isn’t really about the initial dream. It’s about teaching children how to achieve anything. Achieving is a process of motivation, organization, intensity, and determination. We want them to learn the process so that even if their dreams change, their chances of success do not.
5. Show Your Support
Children have their own internal motivation just as we all do. But internal motivation alone shouldn’t be the only thing driving them.
Not only is your motivation important to their success, it’s important to them emotionally. They care what you think. You’re mom. You’re dad. You’re Superman and Superwoman.
If you’re on their side, anything is possible. If you give the green light, they’re stepping on the gas. And when times get tough they’re going to come to you for support.
Be a haven of positive thoughts and outlooks, provide support without offering unsolicited advice, and help them persevere when they’re looking down.
If you do these things, your children can do or be whatever they dream…
This was a guest post by Kevin Geary from Change Your Tree. Kevin is also the author of The Good Parent’s Guide to Teaching Your Children How to Retire Young and Wealthy. Images by Carf, NASA and Caro and Phitar.