Kids Who Dream Only of Fame and Fortune

Fame is the thirst of youth.
—Lord Byron, British poet and satirist

Ask your child: “Do you think you’ll ever be famous? Do you think you’ll ever be a millionaire?” Many kids will say yes. They dream of being professional athletes, famous musicians, and people who make a difference in the world. While some of this dreaming is healthy, some of it gets kids off track, giving them unrealistic expectations that they’ll never meet. Consider these ideas in raising kids who dream big and also dream well.

Tips for . . .

  • all parents
    • Talk to your kids about their dreams, their fantastical dreams and their realistic ones. Find out what they think of their future.
    • Even though it’s tempting to dismiss kids’ unrealistic dreams, be open to them. Keep communication open and ask questions to help them find their way.
    • Connect your kids with people who share an interest in their dreams. Find adults and programs that can help your kids develop the skills they need to make their dreams come true. Learn more at www.search-institute.org/sparks.
    • Find out whom your child admires. If you don’t know much about the hero, ask questions to learn more.
    • While you don’t want to put a damper on your child’s dreams, it’s important to talk about what’s realistic. It’s a delicate balance, but you need to make sure your child is aware of the long odds involved in making certain dreams come true.
    • parents with children ages birth to 5
    • Young children try to emulate superheroes, book characters, and TV stars. They enjoy dressing like these heroes, so don’t be surprised if your child always wants to wear a cape or some other type of hero clothing.
    • Keep introducing your child to new heroes through picture books. See which heroes fascinate your child and why.
    • Expose your kids to situations where they can see their dreams in action. For example, if your child loves firefighters, visit a fire station. If your child loves animals, visit a zoo or an animal humane society.
    • parents with children ages 6 to 9
    • Enjoy your child’s imagination in following his dreams and heroes. Some kids have quite a sense of humor and can develop creative ways to act on their interests.
    • Connect with teachers, coaches, and club leaders to find out how to encourage your child to develop well and to stay enthusiastic about learning.
    • Allow your child to dream and make outrageous comments, such as “When I grow up, I’ll be the king of the world” or “I’m going to get 10 gold medals in the Olympics.” Support your child’s dreams, even if they seem too big.
    • parents with children ages 10 to 15
    • Encourage your child to learn new skills, master the skills she knows, and to continue to go deeper with her interests. Dreams require skill and dedication.
    • Be patient as kids start to go through puberty. Some become clumsy. Some become moody and want to quit an activity they’ve been in for years. Instead of engaging in power struggles with your child, be sensitive to the changes he’s going through.
    • Many kids become enthralled by their heroes who make a lot of money. They may watch YouTube videos of their fancy homes and cars. They may talk a lot about how they’re going to live like that someday. When kids talk about this, ask other questions, such as “How does this person help other people?” and “How does this person make the world a better place?”
    • parents with children ages 16 to 18
    • Talk with your older teenager about the details involved in making a dream come true, such as all the steps in applying to a college, keeping up with homework in class, and practicing an instrument or sport. Some teenagers—just like adults—wish that they could make progress by magic rather than by taking the necessary steps.
    • Continue asking your teenager whom she admires and why. Tell your teenager who your heroes are and why.
    • Monitor how competitive your teenager is. Some work overly hard and push themselves too hard when trying to follow their dreams. Read Taming the Overachieving Monster for more ideas on communicating with competitive teenagers.
    • Older teenagers can be very hard on national figures who make mistakes. Help them make sense of what’s happened and why.
  • Talk about how your idea of fame and fortune has changed over the years and why. Ask your teenager how his views have evolved.

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