3 ways to get started in empowering our kids to chase their dreams
By Sarah Chua
As parents, it is natural to have big dreams for our children. It is not rare to hear parents telling their children to study hard so that they can become doctors, engineers, lawyers, etc., when they grow up. The idea that our children have to excel academically in order to be successful in future is deeply ingrained in the minds of most parents.
However, it is crucial that parents learn to recognise that there is more than one pathway to success and every child is unique in his or her strengths and passions. If we are adamant in forcing our children to fit a certain mould, or try to compare our children with others, the result can be detrimental. When we embrace a broader definition of success, we will be able, and willing, to equip our children to chase their dreams, whatever that dream may be.
The recent change in the PSLE scoring system is a start in the government trying to change the trend of an overemphasis on academic grades but to encourage parents to allow their children to pursue their interests as well. We need to ask ourselves, “What kind of future do we want for our children? While we desire for our children to do well academically, are we also nurturing the fundamental qualities that will help them be successful whichever path they choose? Are we taking time to develop their strengths and interests?
Here are three ways you can help your children chase their dreams:
- Observe your children at play and you may discover some hidden talents that you were previously unaware of. For example, does your child often lead the pack when playing in a group? Is he good at conflict resolution when a disagreement happens during playtime? Does he think out of the box or is he more analytical? There are many personality traits you can discover through your observations that can help you guide your children in their development.
- Engage your children in meaningful conversation about their aspirations. Beyond the standard question of “What do you want to do when you grow up”, ask them what they would like to do to make the world a better place. Challenge their thinking and perspective by talking to them about what they observe around them. If they are old enough, talk to them about current affairs or walk them through planning and setting meaningful goals towards achieving their dreams. Share with them the values you would like to see develop in them. Help them to dream big and not just settle for the rat race.
- Encourage your children to pursue their interests, no matter how unrealistic they may seem. For example, if your child wants to be an astronaut, don’t be too quick to diminish that dream and say it is impossible. Instead, take him to the planetarium to look at the stars and dream with him.
Confucius gave us these words of wisdom, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Rather than getting stressed up about our children’s academic results, why don’t we take time to explore and nurture our children’s strengths and passions?