7 Ways to Ignite Your Child’s Dreams
I used to have a strict “homework before play” rule for my children. One evening, my daughter wanted to visit friends, and I said, “No, you’ll do homework first, you have no choice.” She replied, “I always have a choice. I can do it when I get home.” At that moment, I realized what I was telling her (that she had no choice) and what I desired for her (the freedom to be and do all that she desired) were totally at odds!
It’s not always comfortable allowing our kids to choose for themselves. Yet, when a child learns that their own choices create their future – good and bad – they also realize they are the ones who can achieve their dreams.
Here are 7 ways to ignite your child’s capacity to choose, change or create anything they desire:
1. Offer guidance, without control.
Kids have an inherent sense of curiosity and exploration. They learn limitations, fears, and doubts from everyone else, especially parents! Ask yourself: Am I forcing dreams, expectations, limitations or fears onto my child? Am I asking them what they desire, or am I assuming I know better? Be a guide, but always allow your children to lead themselves and have interests and aspirations that differ from yours.
2. Allow freedom of experience.
When I turned 18, my mother said to me, “I am taking you out for a drink.” She didn’t try to stop me from having alcohol or make it taboo. With that freedom to choose, I never felt the need to fight her or sneak around. Anytime you try to “forbid” something, it gives kids an easy way to rebel. Allow your child to experience life – even the messy bits. Invite them to make aware decisions for themselves by asking, “What will get created in my life if I choose this?”
3. Parent without judgement.
Refrain from judging your child as right, wrong, good, or bad for anything they are or do. Even if they get into trouble (and they will!) understand that they will learn from the consequences. Be there for them and don’t cut off. Ask them, “What did that choice create? What awareness did it give you that can contribute to you in the future?” Empowering them to know they have the power to handle and change anything not working in their lives is generative and nurturing. Judgment and self-criticism are not.
4. Empower self-trust.
The biggest gift you can give yourself and invite your children to have is self-trust. When it comes to parenting, listen to yourself and trust your instincts, and support your children to trust their gut feelings too. I tell my kids, “If something doesn’t feel right to choose, even if it’s your best friend telling you to do it, trust you and act on that.”
5. Don’t focus on perfection.
What if your role as a parent is to raise a joyous human being, not a perfect one? I once took a group of street kids to an art workshop and watched them paint and draw, not concerned with perfection, only with having as much fun as possible! That day, I stopped pushing my kids and me to be perfect. I realized having joy in the process allows us to happily accomplish rather than hold ourselves down with stress and pressure. My kids and I now ask, “If we weren’t striving for perfection, how much fun could we have?”
6. Listen to and actively support their current dreams.
Kids are continually exploring and discovering new avenues: one day a pilot, the next an artist, the next a painter-dancer-astronaut! When your child expresses their dreams, be present and observant. Allow them to choose for themselves and not to make you or anyone else happy. As your child changes, be willing to change your support to suit. You may be aware of times they desire something that’s not in their best interest. Nudge them gently with questions like, “Are you creating your life on your terms? Is this the direction you truly want to go?”
7. Encourage them to have their voice.
It’s important to encourage your child to express their voice. If they are standing up against you saying, “I don’t agree with you. This doesn’t work for me!” don’t shut them down. Be open and try to see their point of view. Be willing to talk about why you are taking a particular position or not allowing something at this time. Don’t assume they are too young or won’t understand.
Children are resilient, curious and each has their own unique version of greatness. As parents, our greatest gift is empowering our children to freely explore that uniqueness and become what they know they can be.
Smriti Goswami is a communication mentor, life and business coach and certified facilitator of several Access Consciousness® special programs, including Joy of Business, Right Voice for You, and Access Bars®. She is a certified FAA Commercial Pilot, experienced glider pilot and co-owner of Mumbai organisation, ArtEscapades. A talented athlete and adventure sportswoman, Smriti successfully completed an intensive SCUBA course with the Indian Naval Diving Team in her youth – one of just eight girls in a gathering of 600 participants. A committed advocate for women’s empowerment, she offers individual consultations and classes around the world, empowering people to think out of the box and follow their dreams. www.rightvoiceforyou.com