Have you ever noticed that children have this amazing capacity to dream? That they can imagine themselves in any situation and when they say that they want to be something, they believe that they can do it? Have you ever noticed that as they grow, that dream capacity reduces in size and splendour? That they go from wanting to be a big Hollywood actor to just wanting a regular job?
What happens to their ability and capacity to dream? Well, what I think happens, is they start to believe what people tell them- you’ll never be able to do x, you need to learn a trade, music doesn’t put food on the table, you need to be realistic.
Well, I say… Children should be allowed to dream big. They should be able to say I want to be a doctor, musician, actor, dancer, etc and we should be helping them achieve their dreams and exceed their potential. Dreams are not just about work- they can be about life or experiences too.
As a teacher, I always look at the kids and think about what things will be like when they’ve grown up. They are going to be our leaders, our doctors, our entertainers. Shouldn’t we facilitate them in their dreams- help them to be the best they can be so they can help us when we’re old and need assistance?
Rather than saying things like “you can’t,” think and act on what they want- if they don’t experience things, they won’t know if they actually could or not. If your child wants to be a dancer, enrol them in a class, help them to get some experience in it- try all different types of dance so that they’ll be able to say they don’t like it and know that they tried.
Be a positive influence on your child- if you want to travel, take them with you- the experience will only help them to see more and experience more and it has the potential to further shape and mould them. What your child will believe about themselves is the things they are told, things that happen to them and how you and they behave as well as what you/they do. Encourage them to experience as much as they can so that they are able to continue to dream big dreams and hopefully see them become real.
In order for your child to dream big, you need to dream big too. Think back to your childhood- what did you dream about doing or becoming? What stopped you from doing it? If it was a case of you realising that you weren’t that good at whatever it was, then that’s fine- BUT if it’s because you didn’t get the chance to do it, then why not try and go out and do it?
When I was a kid, I told my mum that I wanted to be a mathematician. Half way through high school, I realised that I really wasn’t that good at mathematics, so that dream never happened. That’s ok, because right behind the mathematician was another dream. What I’m learning now, is that I’m not as bad at mathematics as I thought I was when I was growing up.
Perception is really important- What you think is bad or what you think you’re not good at and perhaps have even given up on, may not be that bad. It’s like when you’re a child and you dislike something such as avocado. Then you grow up and find that they’re not that bad- the same can happen with dreams- Something could happen that makes you sit up and think that perhaps that dream wasn’t too far away to reach.
Allow your child to dream. If they tell you something they want to be when they grow up, see if there’s something you can do now to help them achieve that. If it’s a sport or a club to join- do it- it will help them to form friendships and develop in other areas of their life as well as promote health. If it’s music, encourage them, buy an instrument for them. Ask friends if they know anyone who can help your child with lessons.
Encourage your child to be responsible for their dreams. Encourage them to keep going with something even though it’s difficult. If they start giving up on things before giving it a good go, it could develop into a pattern. When starting something, agree with your child on a timeframe- say they have to do it for a semester or a term- and if they still don’t like it then, reconsider.
Strive to achieve your own dreams, even if you start with something small. If you set a good example and show your child that you’re trying to achieve your dreams, they are more likely to want to achieve theirs.
Have a weekly or monthly dream meeting. Talk as a family about your dreams. If your child dreams of travelling, make it a family affair. Showing your child that they can achieve their dreams will prepare them for confidence in themselves as well as confidence in you. If you create a dream chart or board for your house, it makes it visible. Make short term and long term dreams for everyone in the family.
As dreams are achieved, cross them off or decorate them in some way to show that you are actually getting somewhere. Making dreams achievable is important, but so is allowing your child to dream big. If the dream is big, talk about how you can actually achieve it- break it down into steps or smaller dreams so that your child will see that they can do it.
Dreams are important in life- they make life less of a chore and more fun. If you’re saving for a trip, you’re saving to achieve a dream. If you’re saving for a house, maybe owning your own home is your dream. Talk to your child about your dreams, about things you’ve already achieved and about things you want to achieve. Your child will flourish if they know they are responsible for something, especially if it’s something they’ve thought of themselves. Live your dreams and show your child that they can do it too!