Think back to your childhood.
What did your dream about? What was that one dream – or those dreams – that were so real, that you loved so much, and that you believed would one day come true?
Now look around you.
Are you living that dream?
If you are, what drove you to turn your dreams into a reality? If you aren’t, what stopped you?
Parents influence – whether positively or negatively, intentionally or unintentionally – their children. Imagine you have a young child who runs up to you one day, her eyes wide and her smile the biggest you have ever seen, and she tells you, “Mommy, Daddy, I know what I want to be when I grow up! I want to be an astronaut! I’m going to travel into space one day!”
How you respond to your child’s dream can mean the difference between that dream being crushed or being nurtured for as long as it remains one of your child’s aspirations.
What response will you give? Will you crush your child’s dream with negativity? Or will you nurture it with excitement and encouragement?
Children often play off of their parents’ responses. If you don’t like broccoli and let your kids know that, they may just decide they don’t like broccoli either. Likewise, if you offer a negative response to your child’s dream of becoming an astronaut, she may start rethinking or abandoning that dream altogether. You do have that much power and influence over your child.
By projecting positivity and by encouraging your child, you can help nurture his or her dreams, whether they are a passing childhood vision or they go on to become a life’s mission. Here are some easy ways to help your child hold on to her dreams.
Be positive. It sounds simple, sometimes it isn’t easy to maintain a positive attitude, especially with all the stress of everyday life. If you are not a naturally positive person, practice it. When your child comes to you with a dream – even if it is unachievable like becoming a fairy or riding a bike to Mars – smile and be enthusiastic. Not all dreams can come true, sometimes they do. It should not stop adults from dreaming the impossible sometimes, does it? Show your child that you believe in your dreams and her dreams, and she will also continue to believe in her dreams.
Be encouraging. Encourage your child, no matter what her age, to engage in activities that can help her on the path to her dreams. If she dreams of being a professional ballerina, for example, encourage her to take a ballet class. If he wants to become a pro football player, ask him what he thinks of joining a sports class or a sports team.
Don’t judge. Remember, your child’s dreams are your child’s dreams, not your dreams, so it isn’t fair for you to judge. Many parents try to live their dreams vicariously through their children, which can result in frustration and resentment from kids. In addition, a child whose dreams are judged or viewed negatively could cause her to abandon those dreams.
Set a strong example. Perhaps you’ve heard that old cliché, used by parents for decades, “Do as I say, not as I do.” It’s usually used when the parent is engaging in a negative behavior – such as smoking – and the child questions why he, too, cannot smoke. If you work hard, your child is going to see that and work hard, too. If you are honest, your child is more likely to be honest too. Be a strong, positive example for your child.
Show interest. Show an interest in your child’s dreams. Imagine she dreams of becoming an astronaut. Maybe you research space together or watch DVDs and television shows about space exploration. Or, perhaps you go to a museum dedicated to space exploration. In addition to showing an interest in your child’s dream, which will help her remain enthusiastic, both you and she will learn what she steps she needs to take to turn her dream into a reality.
Read with your child. The Princess: Depression and Anxiety will help both you and your child become and remain inspired, excited, and encouraged as she discovers new dreams, discards dreams of which she’s tired, and chases those dreams that burn in her heart.
You play a large role in whether your child pursues her dreams or she doesn’t chase her dreams. Remember back to your childhood and that moment that your dreams died – if they did – or that moment you knew you could realize your dreams because someone – maybe your parents, grandparents, or someone you admired – believed in you. Then ask yourself: What kind of parent am I going to be when it comes to my child’s dreams?