don’t stop dreaming when you wake up
“I want to be an actress!”
The beaming smile on your daughter’s face as she makes this announcement is one of absolute confidence. As a parent hearing this, however, you may have conflicting feelings. The odds of making it big in Hollywood aren’t exactly high, after all. Before you suggest your daughter seek out a “bread and butter” trade first, however, you might want to rethink your methods.
Which brings me to when I was growing up. For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be an artist. Still, I’ll never forget the crushing talk my parents gave me every time I brought up my desire to pursue a career in Art. Although I know that they meant well, they’d say something like “you’ll never make any money at it”. Create art sure, but meanwhile, do something valuable with your time. Something that makes lots of money.
This rejection of my work and the self-doubt that came with it stuck with me through many years of my life. Even as I pursued my Fine Arts degree and submitted my paintings and drawings into big name juried selections wordlessly like they were some kind of contraband. Even when my artwork was selected into those same shows. It would be quite some time before I could approach my passion seriously, and when I did (through Graphic Arts) it became a full-time business—more successful than anything else I had tried.
For many children, their parent’s disapproval is a crushing blow to their dreams. As children, we look up to our parents. When the people we respect most in our lives reject our choices, it can cause self-doubt to sink in.
While we may not love the idea of our child becoming a singer, actress or dancer instead of a doctor, engineer or lawyer, encouraging them to pursue their dreams can have beneficial effects that reach long into adulthood. Children who are encouraged to follow their dreams, even when it seems unlikely often have better outcomes than children whose dreams are scorned. These children have more confidence, resiliency, and more positivity than children who are ordered to give up. If you’re not sure how to encourage your child, here are a few tips to get you started.
Regardless of what career your child eventually chooses, they are going to need tenacity in order to succeed. The world is full of hard knocks, and they won’t win every competition or pass every test. Learning how to handle defeat—and how to keep trying is just as important as celebrating the successes.
You can help your child build tenacity in a way that may be hard for you, especially if you have smaller children. That is to step back and let them resolve their own problems. Do you always tie your child’s shoes for them, even though they are well past the age they can do it themselves? Pour them their drinks so they won’t spill?
By letting them resolve their own problems, you are encouraging them to not give up, even when faced with a problem. In an article by Psychology Today, children who have everything done for them have poor coping skills later in life and may have slower development as compared to children who are allowed to make those critical mistakes. See my previous blog post, I can’t do it… YET!, that also explores this idea of tenacity.
be a good role model
Studies show that children as young as 15 months old try harder at their own projects when they see an adult struggle to complete a task before succeeding. Children are constantly learning from their parents, even when you’re not actively teaching. If they see you fail a task and give up, they’ll be less likely to take your advice when you tell them to try, try again.
recognize their efforts
How you praise your children can have the biggest impact of all on the way they approach a task. If you tell them, “You’re so smart!” when they ace a test, you might actually make them less likely to perform as well on the next one because a lower score would invalidate your comment on their intelligence. Instead, reframe your praise in a way that encourages them to challenge themselves. “You studied hard for that test,” or “You tried really hard!” may encourage your kid to try harder on the next test.
support them anyway
Encouraging children to follow their dreams doesn’t just help them pursue their passions, it can also improve their confidence, give them resiliency in the face of failure, and assist them in positive thinking. Even if they change their mind about a star on Hollywood Boulevard, they’ll never forget the lessons they learned pursuing those passions.
If your child has announced they want a career you’re not wild about, support them anyway. It can be as easy as displaying their artwork, cheering them on at school performances and offering constructive criticism to make them better. Get them voice lessons if they have an interest in becoming a singer. Parenting a child is hard work, but when you see their beaming smiles after a big success it is all well worth it. They may not make as much money as a lawyer pursuing these careers, but at the end of the day they’ll be happier and love you more for it.
books that inspire kids to dream
There are many great children’s books that encourage our little ones to pursue their passions and dreams. A few of our favorites include Day Dreamers: A Journey of Imagination by Emily Winfield Martin which is a beautiful board book that whimsically urges children to let their imaginations intermingle with their ordinary surroundings, Dreams Come True …All They Need Is You by Mike Dooley is a wonderfully written and illustrated book that teaches dreams can come true if you just choose to believe in them and Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle is a story of a girl who challenges the customs of her community to follow her dreams of becoming a drummer.
Another great resource we highly recommend is Big Life Journal. Their journals, printables and other tools encourage resilience, creativity, and tenacity through their teachings of growth mindset.
Please enjoy this free Tot Tails coloring page to help share this message with your child.
share with us
We would love to hear your experiences and advice on encouraging your children to pursue their dreams. Are there any books or resources you feel can help? Thanks so much for reading and feel free to comment below!
Disclosure: We may receive compensation if you sign up for or purchase products linked to above. We try our best to provide the most accurate information, but details do change. Please refer to the company website for the most up-to-date information on any lead or recommendation.