How not to kill your teen’s entrepreneurial spirit

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Let’s face it the world of today has changed dramatically in recent years.

In previous generations the path to success was seemingly quite straightforward. People worked hard at school, went to university, got a job and then worked their way up the employment ladder. Bingo! Success!

In today’s world things are no longer so simple and the pathway to success can be somewhat more challenging for our kids.

As parents we can no longer raise our children in the same way as past generations. Today’s kids are living in a fast paced, technologically driven world where social media is the norm and people are dealing in crypto currencies.

In order to be successful in todays competitive and ever changing environment kids need to have intelligence, determination and a strong entrepreneurial sprit.

As parents it’s important that we don’t hang onto our traditional ideas of what success is and instead embrace the concept of what success means for the future generations.

So the question is what can we do as parents to avoid quashing our kids entrepreneurial spirit?

Spot the spirit: Be aware of any entrepreneurial instincts that may begin to surface in your child and embrace them. It can be as simple as your child wanting to set up a lemonade stand or sell Christmas cards to family and friends. Look out for the first signs of an entrepreneurial spirit in your child and support it.

Make the introduction: Know someone who has started up a successful business? Then introduce them to your child. It is highly beneficial for children to become acquainted with people who have been successful. Interacting with those who have “been there and done that” will inspire your child to see that if someone else can do it then they can too!

Teach effective communication skills: One of the most important skills of any entrepreneur is the art of effective communication – so start early. Teach your children how to interact with people of all ages and not only how to hold a conversation but also how to listen to what other people are saying and learn from it.

Let them decide: Kids spend a lot of time doing (or suppose to be doing) what they are told. As important as it is for children to learn to follow instructions it is equally important for them to learn how to make decisions. If you want to raise a child that can generate and execute great ideas and can solve problems then you need to let them make decisions They may not always make the right decision but that is part of the journey. Give your child the chance to make mistakes and to learn from them. Stepping back a little bit and giving your child a sense of some control will help to increase their self-confidence. Keep it simple and age appropriate and as your child becomes more skilled in making small decisions give them the opportunity to tackle larger ones.

Question the status quo: Teach your child not to be a sheep and simply follow the rules and what others are doing blindly. Encourage your child to politely and respectfully question how and why things are done and explore alternative techniques and opportunities. Just because something has always been done in a particular way does not necessarily mean that there is not a different or better way to do it!

Encourage creativity: One of the fun and inspiring things about being around children is the mad hatter ideas that they come up with. Kids are not yet jaded by life and experience so are constantly brimming with fresh ideas and thoughts – don’t quash them. Show your kids how they can direct their creativity in a powerful and productive way.

Model problem solving techniques together: The most successful entrepreneurs are the ones that can solve problems and overcome obstacles. When problem’s come up in your child’s life help them to solve them. Don’t solve them for them. We all know those types of parents’ that do their kids homework for them or complain to the sports coach when they get put in a low team. Don’t be that parent – it teaches your child to run away from their problems. Instead help your child to tackle their problems and disappointments head on. Brainstorm ideas together and come up with solutions and alternative options.

The entrepreneurial mindset is an attitude as well as a skill set that includes creativity, adaptability, innovation, problem solving, risk taking and critical thinking. Helping to cultivate these values in a child from a young age will give them a huge advantage in their future endeavours. Remember – entrepreneurship is an attitude not an occupation!