Updated September 5, 2021 . AmFam Team
Remember when you were a kid and you dreamed you could be anything? A ballerina, a firefighter, an artist, a marine biologist by day, ninja crime fighter by night — anything and everything seemed possible. Now the tables have turned and you see that same free spirit in your children.
Imagine how much better a place the world would be if we all dreamed like kids again and, instead of completely growing out of our childhood, we embraced our every passion. The good news is that it’s possible, and it starts by inspiring children to value the importance of their very own dreams.
We spoke with former kindergarten teacher, all-star parent, co-owner of Escape Adulthood (Opens in a new tab) and all-around expert dreamer Kim Kotecki to learn more about the role dreams play in a child’s life, and how parents can motivate their kids to dream bigger.
In addition to this, we’ve added a few of our own tips to help you learn how to inspire kids at all stages of their development to ensure they can reach for the stars and realize their full potential. Read on to learn how to inspire imagination in kids so they can dream big!
“The passions children have are clues to what their lives will become,” says Kim. “Those that are encouraged to embrace their dreams will undeniably have a much more solid foundation of self-understanding and awareness. This gives them a golden ticket to an adulthood filled with passion and adventure.” And who doesn’t want that for their kids?
Here are Kim’s six tips , along with four bonus tips from American Family, on how to inspire your children to greatness.
“The concept of ‘do as I say, not as I do,’ simply doesn’t work for dream chasing. So, model big dreams in your own life. When we live our lives as a great adventure, we give our kids permission to do the same,” Kim explains.
“Introduce your kids to the concept of a ‘bucket list,’ and invite them to make their own. We’ve done this with our oldest daughter and she has really enjoyed it!” offers Kim. “It’s allowed her the opportunity to experience the power of intentionality. Some really awesome moments and memories have been made as a result of these lists.”
“This freedom will allow them the space they need for self-discovery. As the parent, you are the only person that can protect them from the hectic pace that is now normal in most households,” advises Kim. “Opt out of the overextension and give your kids the gift of time. Hold the space for them to dream and discover their passions.”
Here’s another great tidbit from Kim: “When given the time, kids may choose to pursue interests that do not have a clearly defined outcome. Be okay with this. Challenge yourself to value these exploratory efforts as worthwhile. It’s important to keep an open mind to where their interests lead them, especially when you don’t initially see how it’s beneficial.”
“These can be people you know, those in your community and people from history like Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman or Amelia Earhart.” These inspirational dreamers help teach children that anything is possible, no matter what the obstacle.
“To create an environment that fosters dreaming big, we need to break out of the ruts that can consume family life. Be spontaneous. Get messy. Have dessert first every once in a while. Have a ‘Barbarian Spaghetti’ dinner without any plates or silverware. Make up your own holiday! There are a million different rut busters out there and, as a parent, you must employ them on a regular basis to keep life fresh and exciting amidst the busyness,” shares Kim.
There will come a time when you look at your child and realize they have formed their own unique personality and interests — and it’s important to foster that uniqueness! Treating your child as an individual is essential to helping them grow into a motivated, successful person who can contribute to society in their own special way. Identify their interests by first observing — then help them pursue those interests with zest!
Having your independence and ownership is important to you, and it’s important to your child! By giving responsibility to your children, you are teaching them a valuable life lesson that can stick with them through every stage of their life. Whether it’s assigning a weekly chore checklist or setting an after-school routine they can follow on their own, they can be shaped into responsible individuals who know the value of hard work.
Setting goals is a great way to guide someone’s dream to fruition! Help your kiddo understand the importance of goals from a young age by sitting them down and setting a SMART goal with them. Make sure it’s a goal that interests them, but don’t make it too easy! They’ll get much more out of it if they also discover that sometimes the things they want to accomplish aren’t always a walk in the park.
At the end of the day, your kids are still kids! Make sure to celebrate all of the great things they are doing! Take them to their favorite restaurant, let them pick out a toy, give them an allowance — whatever it is you do, what’s important is they also understand that hard work can pay off.
In a time when kids are seemingly growing up too fast, it’s essential to consider the importance of their childhood dreams. Fostering an environment in which their dreams are valued will help them carry on that free spirit and youthful passion into adulthood — and the world just may become a better place. If nothing else, their world certainly will.
“Protect your children’s dreams,” concludes Kim. “In our fast-paced culture, product is valued over process. In this environment, children’s dreams are seen as trivial and not taken seriously. Safeguard your children from this mindset. Champion their passions and foster a rich environment for growing big dreamers.”
Want more tips and motivation? Our collection of self-improvement tools and resources will help support and guide you along any dream pursuit.