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5 Ways To Encourage Your Kids To Become World Changers

(This post originally appeared here on The Journey of Parenthood for a Babywise Blog Network Day!)

We have a lot of big personalities in my family. And along with those big personalities come big ideas and crazy dreams. When my daughter was only two years old, she declared she was going to take care of all the sick people in the world because they needed help. My four year old tells me daily right now that he wants to go to Africa. My two year old wants to build trains to take him to Disney World. So I guess it shouldn’t have surprised me when my now 7 year old daughter requested that her birthday party this year be a Rainforest themed party because she wanted to raise over $2,000 to help save the Amazon Rainforest.

As crazy as it may be sometimes, we’ve decided to say, “yes” to our kids’ big dreams. We want to teach our kids to truly make a difference in this world and actually be “world-changers.” We want them to make much of their “vapor” (James 4:14). There is so much darkness and sadness right now in this world that we want to teach our kids to be lights. 

I invite you to join us with your “world-changers” as well.  Here are five ways to start:

1. Say “yes.”  Before you figure out the “how” or even the “why,” say “yes” to their crazy ideas and big dreams.  There will be more than enough people in our kids’ lives that tell them no or that they can’t do something. When it comes to dreams and ideas, I don’t want to be one of those people. I want my kids to remember me saying, “Sure! I believe in you.” Is every idea they have going to pan out?. Of course not.  But I don’t want it to be because they didn’t try or have encouragement to do it.  So when Shepherd says he wants to go to Africa, I just say “Ok, I think you should.” We don’t have to figure out the “when” or the “how” just yet.  Saying yes doesn’t mean that life will cease to exist until this is accomplished. Quite the opposite. Saying yes means we figure out how to make world-changing part of our everyday lives.

 2. Don’t make excuses.  When given the opportunity, we can train our kids to make excuses or we can train them to make efforts. I hope my kids learn the latter. In the culture we live in, we can make an excuse for anything not to work out. If our response to our kids’ goals is an excuse of why it’s a bad idea, then they are going to quickly learn to make their own excuses of why something can’t happen for big things and small things. When Fischer told me about wanting to build a train to Disney World, a thousand excuses ran through my head…. “That’s not realistic” … “That’s impossible”… “I don’t know how to build a train”… “He’s two years old”… “I don’t like trains”.  Instead of responding with an excuse I said, “Ok! What should the train look like? How many cars should it have?” At the very least, I showed him how to make a plan instead of an excuse.

3. Help articulate the heart of the goal.  When Laura Kate said she wanted to save the rainforest, I said “ok” and then I asked her questions to help her think through and hone in on the core of what she was wanting. “Why do you want to save the rainforest?” “Which rainforest?” “What ideas do you have?” “Where do you think we should begin?” “What does it mean for you to save the rainforest?”

Sometimes this might involve some research, both on your part and your kids’ part. For example, I am in the process of finding the best organization to donate funds to Rainforest Conservation.  LK has already been researching the Rainforest at School this year so I asked her to compile a list of facts that would help her answer the question of “why.”

4. Encourage Creativity.  Sometimes it takes some creativity to support these goals. For a number of reasons I logistically cannot take Shepherd to Africa right now. But we can read books about what it is like in Africa. We can find pictures and we can plan what a trip there would be like. If he doesn’t go to Africa one day, I don’t want it to be because I didn’t help support him to go.

Raising $2000 is going to take some creative ideas. I also asked Laura Kate to think of some ideas for how we can raise the money. She came up with a lemonade stand, YouTube videos, and a speech at her birthday party. All fabulous ideas that we are working on right now.

5. Be a Model.  This is the hardest one. I think a lot of us get stuck in our routines and everyday lives that we forget that we really can make a difference. We still have a voice in the darkness. As a parent, the most significant way I know to make a difference in this world is to model world-changing behavior for our kids. This doesn’t have to mean running for President. It can look like a lot of different things from investing in relationships to talking to your kids about decisions you made that you were nervous or afraid of but did anyway. How great would it be to raise a generation of people who weren’t afraid of doing things even though they were hard or took a lot of time or didn’t fit into a societal norm?  Every day we are a model for our kids. Why not model pursuing after your dreams?

Here’s the thing. Not every idea and dream is going to come to full fruition. But at the very least, we can encourage imagination and creativity so when the one big idea DOES come along, we have set our kids up to run after the things that truly will make a difference. Hopefully these five steps encourage you as you encourage your little ones! What ideas do you have about raising world-changers?

1 comment

  1. These are wonderful ideas for encouraging little ones to dream big. Thanks, Carrie!