These six parenting tips make dreamer child characteristics clear while making the goal of raising a dreamer child and to raise a creative child doable and fun.
The truth is that I almost sent her away. I was making what felt like the 85th meal of the day in our small kitchen. My husband, Jason, and I were maneuvering around each other, just missing each other’s toes, elbows, sides, a well practiced dance, when our kids decided to get what they needed. Water for one, a fork for another, seconds for the third. Independence! is what I should have been cheering, but OMG, is what I thought. It was a lot of noise and closeness and bumps for already-tired me. And when my kids got what they needed and sat themselves back down, it’s also true that I breathed a sigh of relief. Jason and I faced them across the counter eating our own lunch when, “out of the clouds,” as my middle says, my oldest started explaining how something works and how she could make it better. I almost always find that when I get out of kids’ ways, they blow me away knowing and getting and understanding and dreaming so much more than I could have ever imagined.
On this day, our younger two took off to play in their way, which includes all the noise one can muster and share and puzzle piece in one small space, and our oldest stayed put to finish her homework, the topic of which is what inspired her thinking and imagining and dreaming.
And for that moment, I didn’t want to subscribe to moderated parenting or non parenting or realistic parenting, I just wanted to tell her to keep dreaming. To keep seeing what she can create and make better and question and pursue. To be the boss, because why not her?
I’m madly in love with the concept of raising creative children, of raising dreamers. Here’s what I’ve learned in my home and in my classrooms works to keep the mess and the hope and the dreaming going.
Our kids need room to explore and be and do. This could be inside or outside, their room or the family room. Anywhere that sshhh and too messy don’t apply.
Our kids need free time, as in unstructured, unplanned, unmonitored time. This is so hard to get some days with sports and music and homework, but it’s there if we zoom out and let them be sometimes; even if it comes at the cost of cleaning their rooms or putting away their laundry.
3. Tech/No Tech
Our kids need access to the things that intrigue them. Some of what they want to create can be enhanced by cool things online. But they also need time in their own heads to explore and imagine and create. There’s a balance here, and it is rarely found in rules and time limits. I used to tell my students that fair means everyone gets what they need. I think this applies beautifully here.
4. “I can’t wait to see what you come up with”
“You can do this;” “I believe in you;” and “Tell me more;” are all wonderful variations of this. The main idea is you can do this + I believe that you can do this + I will get out of your way, I promise. It’s so easy to see our adult ideas spin circles around our kids’ imaginings, but the ideas can’t ever become theirs if we place our own parameters around them. Which is, surprisingly, a perfect leeway to #5:
If they ask for help, give them just what they need to keep moving, no more, no less. This is just like when our kids ask us questions about topics that we’d rather not discuss. When this happens, we try to share the bare minimum information, keeping their questions in mind. The same is true when they are creating. Answer their calls for help with questions, materials, ideas—but just a few—then get out of their way. “Let me know if I can help” are fabulous words to keep in our (parenting) back pockets for this one.
The biggest difference between a dreamer and someone who could have been a dreamer is fear. Tweet
The biggest difference between a dreamer and someone who could have been a dreamer is fear. Fear of mistakes, of failure, of imperfection, of stolen ideas, of “not good enoughs.” When we teach our kids (by modeling our own reactions to their mistakes and ours) that mistakes are an every day—perhaps an every hour!—occurrence, we let them know that they are part of the process, and that being a dreamer and a creator trumps every possible thing that they’re afraid of. This also includes letting go of our expectations, as parents, of who and what our kids are and where their sparks lie.
Dreaming is what makes the world go round. It’s the glorious freedom to be odd and quirky and a risk taker and loving every last bit of it, of you. [There is a free tool/download after this fab photo of the one and only, Judy Blume. How much do you love this quote? I’m absolutely convinced that teaching our kids to own their odd is tragically underrated and a dream stopper.]
This is absolutely what I want for my kids and I am going to commit to giving them more of these six traits and moments in our home. They’re only with us for such a short time, I want it to count—for something dreamy.
Be a dreamer, raise a dreamer, like this. Tweet
For foolproof ideas on how to talk so your kids will talk to you, I created a free downloadable and printable list for you of our 52 Dinner Conversation Ideas. I can’t tell you how many dreams have been told over our table and over these questions. Click below to get them now!