My kids are still young, and with youth comes optimism and endless possibilities. They believe anything is possible and options for the future are limited only by their imagination. As a mum, I want to encourage this. I want them to think big, dream big and shoot for the stars. I don’t want to stifle their creativity, I want them to believe in themselves and that anything is possible.
They have a lifetime ahead and who knows what might be possible. Someone will be the future of space travel, someone will become the next Picasso or Mozart or world renowned brain surgeon. Why not them?
Part of this desire for them to dream big also stems from my desire to build their self worth and confidence. I want them to believe in themselves and strive for a goal. Sure, the goal might change, but I really want to instil a sense of confidence that they can set their heart on something and work at making it happen. I don’t want to set them up for failure by teaching them that winning is all that matters, but that doesn’t mean you should give up before you even try. Dream big, try your hardest, see where it takes you!
When it comes to raising kids that dream big, these are 21 of the things that I am trying to help encourage my kids to dream big.
1. Make time for creative play
Creative play is a fabulous way to give kids an avenue to express themselves. Whether it’s role playing as a toddler or creating a mini business as a teen, giving kids a chance to be creative opens them up to explore their dreams.
2. Create a dream diary
When my eldest turned three we were given a beautiful book called a “dream diary”. It had prompts on each page to encourage him to draw pictures of things he dreamt about, how he saw the future and things that were important to him. At the time he was a bit too young to really be interested, but now he’s five he loves the idea of drawing his dreams and imagining the future and I love that it is recorded for me to read and re-read.
3. Talk to them
It sounds obvious but one of the easiest ways to encourage kids to dream big is to talk to them about how they see the world. As adults we think about things differently to kids, sometimes asking an open-ended question brings with it a whole new world of dreaming. Think questions like, “what do you think would happen if…?” or “when I say X, what does it make you think of?”
4. Share your dreams
Grown ups have dreams too! Share them with your kids. They will probably be particularly interested when you share the kinds of things you dreamed of doing when you were their age.
5. Lead by example
Don’t just talk about your dreams, strive for them. As a parent, it can be hard to look past the everyday but I want my boys to see that I have dreams and goals that I’m working towards too.
6. Be a family that dreams
Dreams don’t just have to be individual. Be a family that dreams together, and get the kids involved. Dreaming as a family also helps kids look beyond themselves and work as a team. Help your kids see the variety of dreams that can be imagined and achieved. From imagining where you might all like to spend a holiday one day to the perfect home you’d all like to live in, throw up some big dreams and work together to catch them.
7. Shape values through dreams
A huge benefit of dreaming as a family and working towards family goals is using dreams as a way to shape values. Perhaps as a family you have a goal to raise money towards a worthy cause and a dream of how that will look. Maybe you might encourage dreams that benefit others and foster generosity and kindness? Dreams are powerful and setting goals that are about more than just you can help kids to develop great values.
8. Make the most of technology
There are so many amazing shows for kids that encourage them to dream big and use their imagination. Make the most of technology time by encouraging programs that foster dreaming. Whether it’s dreaming of a future career with Doc McStuffins, building resilience and encouraging exploration with The Lion Guard or creating memories and exploring adventures with Micky and Minnie, there are heaps of fabulous kids programs out there that help kids dream big.
9. Create a positive mantra
Self talk is such a powerful thing. Dreaming gives kids the chance to practice positive self talk.Help your child create a statement that encapsulates his dream and remind him to practise it often.
10. Set them up for success
Success is motivating, especially for kids. Help her to experience success with her initial goals and dreams so that she is motivated to keep going. Setting little goals along the way is a great way to do this — she may dream of being a professional BMX rider one day and winning a local race (even if it’s just up the driveway against her siblings) will help her visualise success.
11. Help them manage failure
While it would be wonderful to always succeed, and creating an environment for success is important, try to also help your child manage failure. Teach him to “bounce back” and start again while he is still young so it doesn’t become a huge obstacle when he is older.
12. Focus on the process not the outcome
One of the best ways to manage failure and also to set kids up for success is to focus on the process as much as the outcome. Effort is valuable! What did they learn for next time?
13. Read books
Just as there are wonderful TV programs out there for kids, there are some beautiful books that encourage kids to use their imagination and dream big. I particularly love reading books that encourage my kids to think beyond their size and dream big.
14. Encourage research and exploration
Kids are naturally inquisitive. Encourage them to explore, research and investigate. Dreams are just waiting to be discovered.
15. Teach them to set goals
Dream with purpose. Teach them to set goals and work out a plan for achieving them.
16. Let them follow their dreams, not yours
While it can be tempting to try and guide kids dreams try not to live through them. Let them know you support and value their dreams, no matter how silly or unachievable they seem to you.
17. Keep an open mind
You just never know what your kids will achieve. There are plenty of people in the big wide world ready to crush our kids’ dreams — don’t be one of them!
18. Be practical, not pessimistic
Rather than being pessimistic about your kids dreams, try to be practical. No matter how “pie in the sky” they seem, try to find ways to help make them happen. Encourage innovative thinking rather than shooting ideas down before they even take flight.
19. Show enthusiasm
The fastest way I’ve found to get my boys to open up to me is to be enthusiastic. When I ask questions and give my undivided attention they really share. Before long they’ll be all grown up and sharing everything with their mates and girlfriend, I want to hear their dreams while I can.
20. Help inspire them
Feed your kids imaginations! Take them to museums, read them books, explore with them. Let them know what’s out there, help them discover what is possible.
21. Keep the memories alive
Do you remember what you dreamed of being when you were little? I wanted to be a vet. I used to create a clinic in our house and I’d pull out the family medical kit and wrap my teddies’ arms in bandages (or the cat if I could get him to co-operate). I wish I could see myself back then, with all the love and attention I gave to those teddy bears.
With the amazing access to technology we now have, I’m making sure I make that wish come true for my sons. I plan to record my kids dreams and goals regularly and keep them alive for the future. What a gift that will be.
What do your children dream about?
More about growing imaginative kids:
- How to Raise Innovative Kids
- 10 Ways to Connect with Your Child Before Bedtime
- 6 Easy Ways to Boost Your Child’s Imagination Every Day