Photo Credit: Enis Yavuz,

Much emphasis has been applied to making sure that our children have the knowledge they need when they venture out into the world. There are also societal rules for what is considered achievement and success.

From the time our kids are born there seems to be a competition going regarding who used the potty first, who can sing the alphabet first, who got into the special choir program or sports team, who got into a fancy college, etc.

Along the way, it’s difficult as parents to remember to help our children set their own measurements for success.

What does it really matter when our kids use the potty, make the team, or get into a specific college? Does all of that really give them a bigger chance of success? No, not really.

What really makes them successful is finding what sparks their inner light and guidance, and sticking to it, no matter what everyone else thinks or says.

So teaching our kids to listen to that inner guidance and develop grit in pursuing it, is really what we need to focus on as parents.

So how do we go about doing this?

Of course, there are many strategies–and some that fit your style better than others.

The important thing is that we apply intention to our parenting when getting caught in the competitive and caring motions of American parenting (like wanting our child to succeed at all things put in front of them).

Normally I’d say that these competitive notions are followed out of fear:

  • Fear that our children will be bullied if they stand out too much
  • Fear that maybe it’ll ruin their chances for a high-paying job if they are not studying at a highly-accredited college
  • Fear that maybe our child’s just going to have an average life–because to us they’re special

We all want our kids to stand out and have extraordinary lives.

The conflict lies in Dr. Seuss’ statement, “Why fit when you were born to stand out?”

In fitting in, our kids are taught to follow other people’s rules for what’s acceptable to expect and hope for. Many great success stories’ protagonists didn’t fit in too well. They were either bullied or not understood and they persevered.

That required one grown-up drowning their own fears on behalf of their child, believing the impossible, seeing the light in them, and supporting them in getting there. I bet you that every successful person had that type of person in their life (that person being a parent or not).

So let’s be our kids’ champions. Let’s believe in the impossible because we can. Let’s not buy into our own fears of “don’t set your hopes too high, because you might get disappointed.”

Let’s teach our kids that dreams are made of dreamy movement, and everyone who consistently believes in their dream will eventually get there.

When you catch yourself helping your child get “realistic,” remember that you’re only speaking to your own fears. No big dreams were made out of realistic expectations.

And yes, your child will go face-to-face with all the obstacles of success; because no one ever got to be successful by going around them. There’s no way around, only through.

Your child will meet disappointments and fears, self-doubt and hardship; but she’ll also find out what she’s made of–and that’s truly empowering. Because once you know what you’re made of, you can conquer all obstacles. Because the strength lies inside, not having to ever rely on outer circumstances to be content.

So, with all of this being said…

Vision Boards

One way to lead your child to what treasures are inside, to help guide him or her along the way, is making vision boards.

In our family, we make them around New Year’s and it’s amazing how much I learn about my kids by seeing what pictures they cut out.

There are two ways of doing this:

  1. Either you tell them to cut out what inspires them, speaks to them, or what the really like.
  2. Or you tell them to cut out what they want in their dream life.

I find that method two is more mind-oriented and method one is more heart-oriented.

When I use method one, I normally get surprised by what was buried deep inside of me.

Now, kids have normally haven’t been “brainwashed” to be so realistic (which is a mind thing).

I’d suggest that if you have a child that’s a great dreamer, have them use method two. Whereas children that aren’t as consistent dreamers, use method one, to draw their dreams out of them.

All you need is:

  • To get them excited
  • Lots of magazines
  • Scissors and glue sticks
  • A big table or floor space
  • A few hours to spare

Instruct your kids to use method one or two and to cut out pictures, and even words and sentences (depending on the child’s age).

Have fun!

Photo Credit: Enis Yavuz,