These super hero-sized ideas for encouraging kids’ dreams are shared by our Blog Ambassador Julie of Happy Strong Home!
Every now and then I throw out the “So what you think you’ll want to be when you grow up?” question to my boys. It’s interesting to hear their aspirations change as they grow.
My oldest went from train conductor to zookeeper to astronaut. “Keep your options open!” I always tell them.
One day, my six year old told me he wanted to be a superhero. Looking into my rear view mirror at him wearing his superhero mask, I could see where this was coming from. Very often, whatever play costume they pick out becomes their career du jour!
I was tempted to say, “Well, you can’t actually be a superhero!” but I stopped myself and thought. I know he can’t be a superhero with special “powers” like turning back time or becoming invisible or walking through walls.
Our sense of reality can overshadow a child’s dreams. But, eventually, kids gain their own sense of perspective about career aspirations, often without our help.
Meanwhile, we can build on these daydreams to encourage kids to chase superhero-sized dreams, now and in the future!
- Ask questions. Find out what they admire about that job (or superhero!).
- Superheroes save the day; how can we help those in need too?
- Astronauts travel far away; how do they stay healthy while they are in space?
- Spies and secret agents look for clues and crack codes; what are small details we can pay close attention to today?
Role-play. Kids love to step into the shoes of their personal heroes and act out scenarios with kid-sized costumes and tools! And it gives parents an opportunity to teach about various career tasks and skills.
A lab coat and safety goggles opened the door for me to talk to the boys about how some jobs require special equipment. When kids use tools like beakers, test tubes and real experiment tasks, this allows them to experience a taste of their dreams during playtime.
Budding detectives can wear a trench coat and mirrored glasses to practice their sleuthing skills. A decoding lens and message reveal tools add to the mystery and suspense. This role-play helped my kids re-purpose their energies into blending in, while they looked for clues and solved brain puzzles. My house held barely a sound as they slid around corners and snuck up to our windows to spy out, then see if they could spot me in their rear-view mirror sunglasses.
- Focus on building character. The important aspect of superhero dreams lies in the character traits they admire in that career or persona. Encourage the character traits, not the job.
- When we have to wait, I tell my boys it’s like being a secret agent at a stakeout, and we get to exercise our patience-muscles.
- When we meet a friend’s pet or new baby, I remind them how we use gentle hands just like an veterinarian, doctor, or nurse would do.
- When they struggle with problem-solving, I’ll say, “Let’s think like a scientist about this problem,” and help them ask questions and hypothesize solutions.
Our children will revise their aspirations many times before they launch into the world. Instead of telling them they can’t be a superhero, spy, or mad scientist, focus on what they can be: helpful, attentive, and inquisitive!
By focusing on traits and skills associated with their dreams, you’re telling your child you believe in them, and will be by their side helping them achieve any dream!
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