Encourage your kids to thinkbig

By Kym Tucker

Finding inspiration in life – to clarify our dreams or find what we loveto do – can be a long journey of experimentation, success and failure.

Often we need re-train our thought process, become aware of our limiting beliefs, learn new skills, ignore the ‘nay sayers’ and find support to acquire our chosen goals. But do our kids need to follow the same path to get what they want?

As a parent how can you encourage your kids to think big? Here are seven suggestions for independent thinkers who aspire to big visions.

1. Listen to your kids!

One of the best ways to encourage your child to consistently express their thoughts and feelings is to listen to them. This may sound easy but can you stop and really listen to them without judgement or ridicule, regardless of what they say, however silly or outrageous, impractical, illogical or crazy?

Listen not only with your ears but with your body language too. Rolling your eyes, frowning, turning away or just pretending to listen are all dismissive and powerful rejections for your child.

Think of a time when you were excited to share something and it was quickly dismissed. It can be disheartening and disempowering. Your child doesn’t have a level of awareness to understand your intentions and is likely to interpret your disinterest or dismissal as their own unworthiness.

With a busy lifestyle it may not always be possible to stop and focus on your child, but as their parent it is vital to allocate quality listening time. If your child picks a bad time, let them know a time when you will listen and ensure you stick to it – consistency is important.

2. Encourage your child’s imagination

When listening to your child express big ideas, ask them to clarify the details to develop their visions. Most of us think in pictures, so ask kids to describe their pictures. What does it looks like? Who is with them? Respond to their answers with enthusiasm and allow their story to build. When encouraged to build their visions and develop their imagination your child will gain confidence in communication, problem solving, purpose, clarity and determination. Nurture their imagination and creative thinking process by asking questions and rewarding their responses.  Einstein said ‘Imagination is more important than knowledge’.

3. Value your child’s input

Ask your kids for their ideas and suggestions for daily activities – the evening meal, driving to school, weekend activities or coming events such as birthdays. An older child could plan a family holiday or be involved in other family research, such as a new car or decorating their bedroom.

Of course there is no point asking for your child’s input if you are not prepared to listen or at least act on some of their suggestions. Only give your child choices which you are prepared to follow through with.

4. Focus on ‘what’ your child’s dreams are not ‘how’ they will achieve them!

When listening to your child’s ideas, focus on and encourage the ‘what’ rather than the ‘how’. What does your idea look like? What does it involve? When it comes to encouraging big thinkers, the ‘how’ is not important at conception. There will be plenty of time to research and clarify the vision, so leave the ‘how’ to the natural consequence of the process.

For those familiar with Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, Henry Ford had the vision of developing a V8 engine. Where his team told him it couldn’t be done Ford’s vision held strong until it was achieved. Encourage your child to hold on to their dreams and don’t dismiss their ideas just because they or you don’t know how to achieve them.

5. Don’t burden your child with limiting beliefs

When listening to your child be aware of your own limiting beliefs and keep them out of the conversation.

When you are listening to your child’s amazing ideas and you are aware of thoughts that begin something like ‘that won’t work because...’ or ‘that’s not possible because...’, bite your tongue! Say nothing. Just listen. They don’t need, or want you or others to build obstacles across their path. If their ideas are something they really want, they will find a way to achieve them with your support.

6. Immerse your kids in their dreams

When you observe your child’s excitement, support them by immersing them as much as is practically possible. Buy books or magazines, take them places where they can experience or learn about their interests, including trips to the library; support them in their research and if possible introduce them to mentors. Even if turns out to be a ‘fad’ your child will experience the process and know you are there to support them. Give your child a blank canvas and they may surprise you with their masterpiece.

7. Be a great role model

Many of us learn by observing and following others. A great gift you can give your child is to be a big thinker, dreamer and planner yourself. When you take the time to discover your own purpose, follow your own dream and live by your own values, you are validating the importance for your child. Your dream or vision doesn’t necessarily need to be huge (although it can be), as it is often the simple, congruent things which make a huge difference.

Regardless of how old your child is, include some of these suggestions into your daily life and be ready to watch and learn from your child’s unlimited, unique potential.


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