To blaze their own dazzling path, kids must first believe in themselves. Here are 6 ways parents can support their big dreams.

Every parent wants what is best for their child. We hope that they find their place in the world, feel the freedom of a life without constraints and get the opportunity to blaze their own dazzling path.

To do this, however, kids must first believe in themselves and in their futures. They must be allowed to discover who they are without having their dreams crushed along the way.

It is easy to offer kids a reality check when they tell you that they want to be an astronaut or a movie star. But who are we to tell our children what they should and shouldn’t believe in?

Daring to dream about the future at all is an act of bravery. And it is our job as parents to nurture that adventurous spirit and to keep alive the idea that “someday” is possible. After all, as the leaders of tomorrow, our children’s dreams shape our future world.

The good news is that kids already have bucketloads of the necessary ingredients for dreaming big: Great imaginations, an innate sense of wonder and an incredible ability to engage with the world through play

Supporting their big dreams can start from a very young age. Here are 6 ways to do so.

1. Show them that their voice matters

Children are acutely aware of how little and powerless they are. They are constantly being told what rules to follow and what they should and shouldn’t do.

It is therefore important to show them that their dreams, feelings and ideas are important. That it is ok for them to take up space.

This means listening to our kids and making them comfortable enough to share what is in their hearts. Show them that it’s okay to have an opinion, even if it is not what everyone else thinks.  Help them to find the find the courage to use their voice.

2. Help them to find their flow

Flow is that wonderful feeling where you so immersed in an activity that time seems to slow down. Young kids often achieve a flow state in their everyday play, where they engage with the world on their own terms, exploring, discovering, imagining and creating.

As kids get older, help them to identify what makes them feel this way. What is fuelling their current interests? What lights them up inside? Is it art or soccer? Dinosaurs?

Whatever it is, help them to notice what they love and encourage their passions. This might look like taking them camping, visiting a museum or buying them paint supplies. It can also look like finding books at the library on their subjects of interest.

3. Encourage messy mistakes

Let’s face it. Things don’t always go to plan. But the important thing is that kids learn that mistakes and failures are part of the process.

Children often feel frustrated when things don’t work out the way they wanted them to, but if they can see that mistakes are a way of learning, then this will help to prevent kids from getting stuck.

Share stories about moments where things didn’t work out and explain what you did in those situations. If kids can see that there is a space for mess, it will help them build the resilience and strength to keep going.

4. Teach them wonder

Part of dreaming big involves cultivating curiosity and keeping alive a child’s ability to notice the extraordinary. Children are born with an instinct to see the awe-inspiring in the everyday world around us. Those moments stimulate imagination, creativity and open-mindedness. But, more importantly, they bring joy and help kids tune into their own feelings and the world around them.

Point out the beauty of the patterns in a spider’s web or take your child out to watch the sparkling stars at night. Help them to see the world as a place of unlimited potential and beauty where anything is possible, including their dreams.

5. Read, read, read!

Reading is a window into other worlds. It is a way of showing our children that there are other ideas and possibilities out there, beyond the everyday. 

Better still, reading together is a chance to share a precious moment and to connect.

6. Foster critical thinking

Critical thinking helps children deal with the ups and downs they will encounter on the way towards their dreams.

Fostering critical thinking starts with teaching children how to think rather than what to think.

Although it can feel hard to answer every question a child has (there can be many!), it is important to encourage questions. Even when you don’t know the answer, acknowledge that a good question has been asked.

Critical thinking also means breaking down notions of blind obedience. While there are certain rules that must be followed, we should explain to kids why we are asking them to do something rather than telling them it is “because I said so”.

This helps kids to form their own views about the world. It encourages independent thinking, allowing them to be problem solvers and innovators who will trust their own instincts on their journey towards their dazzling dreams.

Tracey Dembo’s new picture book, An A-Z of Dreaming Differently, is published by Puffin Books Australia and available now.

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