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12 Ways To Instill Your Kid With An Entrepreneurial Mindset

12 Ways To Instill Your Kid With An Entrepreneurial Mindset

Misfit, oddball, geek, nerd, outcast, and misunderstood rebel, these are some of the terms used to describe future entrepreneurs. So parents, I wouldn’t be too worried if your child isn’t popular and hanging with the cool kids…yet.

Chances are they’re already in line to be the next Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook founder) or Do Won Chang (Forever 21 founder). Both of these entrepreneurs started from very unpopular beginnings. Zuckerberg still doesn’t let being perceived negatively get in the way of his success:

“This is a perverse thing, personally, but I would rather be in the cycle where people are underestimating us. It gives us latitude to go out and make big bets that excite and amaze people.” – Mark Zuckerberg

You’ll find that it takes only simple tweaks in everyday behavior to cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset in your kids.

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1. Never say: “Do as I say, don’t do as I do”

It is far better to lead by example. As a child, I heard, “Do as I say, don’t do as I do” with my mother’s index finger wagging in my face countless times. In theory, it sounds like it might work and encourage your child to listen to your recommendations and do better. But it’s an illogical approach when the laws of nurture come into play. Children are far more likely to imitate your actions rather than your noble speech. My 3-year-old daughter asked me for her own desk in my home office. It isn’t because desks are cool among 3-year-old’s; you know what is cool? Being like mommy.

2. Create An Environment Of Play

When did life get so serious? When did we stop playing in puddles, laughing at randomness, being silly because the mood struck us? Don’t take that away from your kids. Let them build a fort in the Ikea-chic living room. Let them imagine the pencil has magic powers and can turn you into a parrot. (Be the freakin’ parrot!) Part of being an entrepreneur is about creating, questioning, exploring, and playing. That’s how ideas are born and life becomes a majestic board of possibilities. Never let them stop playing with possibilities. Ever.

3. Manage What They Consume

Create more, consume less. In our savvy technology world, anything you can imagine is available on an iPad. Utilize the parent-protected feature to only provide them with access to content that will teach them, develop their thinking, and inspire them to be their best self. Focus on games that represent leadership and critical thinking, and promote kindness and being responsible. Visuals that encourage positive self-image and self-regard are also important. If your child is anything like my kid, they’re probably on some type of device a lot. Create a bubble and regulate their media consumption. Safeguard what filters in, and you’ll always be proud of what filters out.

4. Interrupt Negative Self-Talk

The thing we usually cannot manage is what our children hear outside of the home and away from our guidance. This is where they can pick up foreign habits that stray from the path we would most prefer them to be on. Not everyone around us will or wants to be an entrepreneur. And the journey of entrepreneurship requires a person who has thick skin, even when faced with their own self-talk.(Don’t we tend to be our own worst enemy?) The “I am dumb”, “I always mess up” and “I suck at this” self-talk will creep into your child’s vocabulary. Don’t let too much time pass before you interrupt their negative self-talk. Interject with “Remember the time you hit that home run?” Or “You did awesome when you got a B+ on your spelling test.” Replace the negative statements with positive wins they recently had. This reminds them of how phenomenal they really are and re-frames their outlook on the current situation. It reminds them that their situation is only temporary. Their awesomeness isn’t.

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5. Actively Remind them to be Grateful

Our mental space often gets crowded with all the things we think that we want. “I want…I want…I want…” How many times you’ve heard your kids say this over and over? Think of when they were asking for the brand new toy that came out last week or asking to watch the movie Frozen another 101 times. Always wanting without being thankful for what they already have sets our children up to expect immediate gratification. You and I both know that there is no such thing as getting instant results when running a business. It takes time, months…even years to see any positive results sometimes. A simple reminder of all we have to be thankful for in this present moment creates a conscious child and one who is open to receiving more in time.

6. Make Rigid Routine Days Mandatory

You may be thinking how does this create an entrepreneurial mindset? Don’t entrepreneurs purposefully avoid routine? That’s why entrepreneurs don’t have jobs, right? Not true. Part of being an entrepreneur is learning to do the boring stuff…repeatedly. That’s how great minds are built, like Mark Cuban, Steve Jobs, and Oprah. Nobody ever talks about all the times they had to re-write their business plan, set up mundane systems and master a skill before they began to see success. There’s one simple reason for is: there’s nothing sexy about routine. But a routine must be mastered. This creates discipline and yield results. As time passes, due to our purposefully scheduled days focused on mastering a craft, we are eventually able to live free from such a rigid routine.

7. Encouraging Curiosity and Asking Questions

In this case, lack of curiosity…killed dreams. To ask why and question the status quo is what entrepreneurship is built on. The greatest entrepreneurs have asked “Why not?” when facing risks or unconventional choices. Have your children explore places, sights and sounds. Encourage them to try new foods, and to meet different and interesting people. When dancing with the idea of doing something out of their comfort zone, allow them the freedom to ask “how”, “what”, “who”, “where”, “when”- and most importantly…”why not?”

“Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not.” – Pablo Picasso

8. Encourage Independence From Diaper Years

If you’re reading this and you’re one of those parents who love to coddle their child. You’re not going to like this one…not one bit. Here goes: coddling sets them up for dependency and there is nothing entrepreneurial about that. Allow them to get their own utensils before dinner, set the table even. It teaches them responsibility. Let them correct their misbehavior before you tell them that they’re wrong. It teaches them accountability. Don’t rush to kiss their boo-boos after a fall. It teaches them how to get back up…on their own. We as parents won’t always be there and they will have to learn how to conquer the jungle of life independently eventually. Be there to support them, the whole way- just from a distance.

9. Never Teach Them Ugly Ideas About Money

The rich are evil”, “The rich do whatever it takes to get what they want”, “The rich profit off of the poor”. These ugly lessons are false and will block your child from making money from any future business ventures. They’ll get as far as that belief will take them- just enough to satisfy their basic needs. Entrepreneurship is about being in a position to help others. If you’re not in a happy financial situation, chances are you cannot help anyone else but yourself. Sure, there are a few bad apples that reach financial success but it doesn’t outweigh the countless others who don’t fit that description.They continue to support communities and the creation of positive technological advances because they are in a financial position to do so.

10. Let Them Have A J.O.B.

This goes against everything an entrepreneur stands for. A job! Yuck. But we all start somewhere. How will our children learn how to do things differently, without first knowing how it’s done? Then they have the chance to realize they can do it better…much better. Give them small tasks to do each day around the house. Let them pick up a paper route. Have them learn the fundamentals of hard work! This only prepares them for the incredible work involved when running your own business.

11. Answer Their Questions With A Question

Don’t give up answers so easily.

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Why do I have to go to school?” Your response: “You tell me, why?

How do stars stay up in the sky? Your response: “You tell me, how?”

What makes the TV work?” Your response: “I’m not sure…you tell me, what makes it work?

This allows them to THINK about their question and allow critical thoughts to flow. When we easily hand over the answers, what opportunity do they have to be resourceful? This doesn’t encourage them to formulate their own reasoning around why things happen, how things work, and what things are. It also doesn’t offer them the chance to come up with their own conclusions. Having a discussion around their findings is one of the best gifts you can give them.

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12. Pour On The Hugs and Kisses

This is probably the most important tool in your arsenal. An emotionally stable child is going to take failure a lot better, get back up a lot faster, and have higher self-confidence. They will know without a shadow of a doubt, they can be and do whatever they’ve set their mind to. It just takes one person to believe in them…just one. After that, not even the sky’s the limit.

Soar my little eagle, soar.

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Published on September 18, 2018

Coparenting 101: 17 Helpful Strategies for Divorced Parents

Coparenting 101: 17 Helpful Strategies for Divorced Parents

When people separate or divorce, one of their biggest challenges is coparenting their children together. As a Marriage and Family Therapist in Chicago, I often see divorced parents struggle with how to raise their children together.

One parent has a certain set of rules, and the other does it completely differently. It can be a real challenge to navigate this part of the divorce process.

Yet over the years, I have seen couples successfully raise their children together after a divorce. It takes a little attention and focus, but there are number of key strategies that these divorced couples employ to make coparenting much easier.

1. Communicate clearly.

When couples who are able to communicate coparenting items easily and without much emotion, they get a lot of the work of parenting done quickly. Yet when their discussions about parenting items are filled with emotion, then it muddies the waters.

If you find yourself fighting with your ex about all sorts of coparenting issues, you might want to set up a method of communication which reduces the emotion.

Perhaps a dedicated email thread that only has parenting items might keep the channels of communication more clean.

2. Clarify rules.

Many families we see here at our practice in Chicago have different rules at different houses for their children. This can certainly work, but the rules need to be clearly defined by the parents.

Where children struggle is when they are unclear about what the rules of each house are, and then try to manipulate the rules to get their way.

Clear communication of what the expectations are at each house can go a long way towards creating balance and stability.

3. Get out of the past.

It is important to be sure that any lingering items from your marriage stay as much in the past as possible.

Of course there will by dynamics from the marital relationship that persist in the coparenting relationship, but couples benefit by bringing their relationship out of the past and trying to create new ways of interacting around parenting items.

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4. Don’t triangulate.

One of the more difficult dynamics that we see in Family Therapy is when couples triangulate their children.

Triangulation is when whatever is unresolved between the parents gets transmitted through their interactions with the children.

In other words, the parents hostility and tension gets absorbed by the children and the children start acting it out. It can be very confusing when this happens, and Family Therapy can significantly help when this dynamic occurs.

5. Bless and release.

One thing that troubles a lot of people after a break up or divorce is that they continually hold on to old grudges or complaints.

In order to coparent more effectively, it can be helpful to bless and release your ex. This mean wishing them well and letting go of old hurts.

Can you hope for our ex that they have all good things and find the life and love that they are looking for? This sort of neutrality can go a long way with coparenting from a more balanced place.

6. Practice mindful parenting.

Many experts will tell parents to try to stay more calm than their child. If you are anxious, stressed and angry, then your child may become those things too.

Coparenting with an ex adds another layer of difficulty and potentially upsetting emotions. It is important to practice being mindful of your anxiety, stress and anger levels when parenting, and also when interacting with your coparent.

Finding ways to stay relaxed and put things in perspective can help.

7. Develop a support network.

Having a good team of trusted people in your corner can help to make sure you don’t feel alone in the process of coparenting. Talking with other parents who are divorced or separated might help you feel less alone in the process.

Additionally, having a trusted counselor or therapist in your corner who can help you look at your blind spots, can make a big difference.

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8. Practice presence.

Staying in the moment when parenting can be a useful thing whether you are coparenting, doing it alone, or alongside your partner.

Our minds can race all over the place when we are managing a lot of things in our family life. Yet taking time to stay in the moment and be present with your child will help calm and stabilize the situation.

If you are worried about future events, or stressed about what happened before, it takes you out of the present, which can be full of opportunities for meaningful experiences with your child.

9. Practice “I” statements.

A lot of couples will get in trouble by blaming their ex in front of their child. It can be difficult for them not to criticize their ex, or say something disparaging. Yet this can have a negative impact on the child.

Instead of pointing the finger, it helps to practice “I” statements. Talk about your frustration and how you get overwhelmed by difficult situations rather than commenting on how your ex made mistakes or is selfish.

Talking about your own experience helps you own your own power in the situation.

10. Learn to compromise.

If coparents are constantly arguing about their schedules, money, or what the rules are, then it can cause a very hostile and chaotic environment for the children.

Yet couples who learn to work together and compromise on the endless, daily family items that need to be negotiated, end up creating a more stable and calm environment for their children.

Even if you insist that you should have the children on a particular holiday because your ex had them the previous year, being willing to compromise and make alternate arrangements can pay off in the long run.

11. Give a little.

Coparents who are generous with one another, even if they are still upset about their breakup, help create an environment of wellbeing in their family.

If your coparent asks for a random extra weekend with the children, and you know that it is your turn that weekend, being generous and giving a little can go a long way towards generating good will.

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Withholding and counting each fairness and unfairness creates a less generous and more stingy family environment.

Of course you don’t want to compromise yourself and give over too much, but keeping on the lookout for when you can give just a bit more, can help the wellbeing of everyone involved.

12. Talk with your children.

Parents who worry about the potentially negative influence that their ex will have on their children do well by talking more with their kids.

If you are worried about what your ex might say to your child, it helps to have a good, open line of communication with the child such that you can better understand how they see the world.

It helps if they can talk with you about their confusion or any conflicting messages that they hear from their other parent.

13. Leverage your relationship.

Your child is hard wired to want to connect with you. Parents do well to know that the greatest influence that they have on their child is their relationship with them.

Your children are attached to you, and even if they act as if they want nothing to do with you, they are still wired for your approval and care.

Finding ways to leverage the inherent attachment can help create the sort of life that you’d like for your child.

14. Attract, don’t pursue.

Don’t overly pursue a connection with your child, but instead attract their interest to connect with you. When parents are too eager to chase a child who is distancing, then the child will often distance more.

Building on the inherent attachment that your child has with you, try to find ways to create harmonious and connected moments rather than asking them tons of questions and trying desperately to create closeness.

15. Open up.

Share more with your child about what you love, and what you are passionate about. Children who hear more about what parents care about tend to follow their own passions.

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Think about how many famous athletes or musicians children are also athletes or musicians. Children tend to follow the lead of their role models, and if you share what you love, then might emulate that pursuit themselves.

This can go a long way towards creating a lasting bond that can withstand any tension in a coparenting relationship.

16. Embrace change.

A lot of coparents have hidden regrets or live in the past. They wish their family situation could be different, but don’t know how to make it better.

Embracing change can help us move out of past hurts and regrets and find new ways to create the sort of changes we are looking for.

Perhaps you can find new ways to interact with your ex that might foster new family dynamics.

17. Make room for new possibilities.

A lot of divorced or separated couples that I work with tend to become hopeless about anything new happening in the family dynamic. They see patterns of interaction repeat themselves over and over, and they anticipate it will continue this way forever.

Yet if there is one thing we can count on is that things will eventually change. Making room in your mind for new possibilities can alleviate some of the hopelessness that sometimes comes with difficult coparenting situations.

Yes you are divorced, but It is indeed possible to be good coparents. Communication and patience go hand in hand if you want to raise happy and healthy kids as a divorced parent.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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