6 Ways to Inspire Your Children

Expert advice on encouraging big dreams

Expert advice on encouraging big dreams

By: Ashley Reynolds
Artwork contributed by: Jason Kotecki

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 (just me?) – 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. If instead of completely growing out of our imaginative childhood, we embraced our every passion. Good news – it’s possible. And it starts by raising children who value the importance of their very own dreams.

I spoke with former kindergarten teacher, all-star parent, co-owner of Escape Adulthood and all-around expert dreamer, Kim Kotecki to learn more about the role dreams play in a child’s life, and how parents can encourage even bigger dreaming in their little ones.

“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 6 tips on how to inspire your children to dream bigger:

  1. Be a dream role-model. “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.”
  2. Encourage their bucket list. “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! 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.”
  3. Give them free-time. “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. Opt out of the overextension and give your kids the gift of time. Hold the space for them to dream and discover their passions.”
  4. Allow them to tinker. “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.”
  5. Introduce BIG dreamers. “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.
  6. Live life as a daring adventure. “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.”

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.”

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