Several years ago, I taught a first and second grade combination class. Every morning, as part of the class day, students were given “free choice time”. “Free choice time” was intended to serve several purposes; to ease the children through the transition from home to school time, to allow the children to be self-directed, and to allow teachers to observe the mood, interests and dynamics of the students, which tend to vary from day to day. After “free choice”, I would regularly ask my students to reflect on how they used their time.
One morning, one of my students (Kelsey, a bright-eyed, thoughtful seven year-old girl) created a “business” during her free choice time. When Kelsey turned in her reflection, I was blown away by the tone and the clarity with which she acknowledged how she used her time. Kelsey wrote, “Today I invented a company. It is called Kelsey Brand Kelsey. We make money, clothes, beads and sculptures. Hannah works there and Jaya works there too. I feel so happy about K-B-K.”
Kelsey wrote this reflective piece almost 8 years ago. It hangs in my office as a reminder to how powerful and imaginative children are. I was about 25 years old when Kelsey started her business, the lead teacher in a classroom for the first time, and I wondered, “Wow. Where did she get the idea to create a business? How did she know to call it a “brand?” What allowed her to know that she should have employees?” I realized that Kelsey had enterprising parents.
Kelsey was exposed to ways of earning an income that went beyond simply being an employee for someone else’s business. She realized that she could own a business of her own, a business of her choosing. Beyond that, Kelsey had parents who believed in choice, creativity and raising conscious children.
How can you nurture your child’s entrepreneurial genius? There are many skills that I can list, but what’s important is how we engage with our children; how we see them, as well as how we hold space for them to expand and create, are foundational to the development and hardwiring of their entrepreneurial genius. Research has shown that a person’s personality is 90% developed by the time they are 6 years old. Opening your child’s mind to the world of possibilities available to them starts with engaging their entrepreneurial genius at an early age!
Here are three easy adjustments you can make when engaging with your child.
Take their ideas seriously. Children are often told that they are “cute,” or that their ideas are cute, and they ARE cute, but “cute” is sometimes condescending, and never opens the door to exploration. Next time, give more specific feedback, or better yet, ask questions! “What are your plans for that?” “I’d like to know more about…” “How do you see yourself taking your idea to the next level?” I know this seems like a big question to ask a 6 or 7-year-old, but truthfully, they can answer deeper and much more philosophical questions than this one. Questions let them know that you are taking their ideas seriously, and when they feel they are being taken seriously, they feel validated and confident. It also implies that there is something more that they can do with their idea without Mom and Dad “dictating” what they should do. Successful entrepreneurs learn early on that their ideas are important, no matter how crazy they seem.
Give your child room to think. There is a lot of conversation these days, about teaching kids how to think outside of the box. We all seem to agree that we want to raise people who can create buttons, not just push buttons, but in order for our kids to create those buttons, they’ve got to have some tools to work with. Exposing children to different cultures, languages, and rare experiences engages their hearts and stretches the corridors of their mind. It puts tools in the toolbox, and the more you put in, the more they have to work with. An expanded view of the world shows people what’s possible, gives people choices, and opens doors. For children, who are just beginning to form ideas about who they are, what they’re interested in and where their lives will take them, experiences are transformative. You can’t explore a world that you don’t know exists, so show your kids as much of the world as you can; go to museums, ball games, movies, and parks, go for hikes, eat foods from all cultures, learn a new language, take music lessons, travel… The more the better!
But, that’s not enough. We have to ask children what they think about these experiences. Why? They have to be taught that reflection is a core skill of a brilliant thinker. Thinking is the foundation of an entrepreneurial mindset. Successful entrepreneurs have the ability to think more effectively and efficiently. This is the number one competitive advantage of the Tyler Perrys, Tyra Banks, Bob Johnsons, and the Oprahs of the world. Entrepreneurs know that an idea, without well-crafted thinking wrapped around it, is meaningless. Teaching your children to think by asking them reflective questions, enables them to process experiences and take meaning from them while setting them up for core entrepreneurial success.
One more thing… time. Time to think, time to answer, time to process. Don’t ask questions and then answer for them…Children need time to think out loud and complete their thoughts.
Give them what they need. I remember Kelsey asking if she could use the beads for her choice time. I obliged and about ten minutes later, Kelsey had a full-on jewelry manufacturing system happening! Kelsey asked for what she needed. Successful entrepreneurs make big, bold requests. They may request a mentorship from a highly regarded business woman, millions of dollars from an investor or bold stipulations to a contract before they’ll commit. When this courage is developed at an early age it becomes part of a person’s character and can act as a sort of vaccination against the disappointment and frustration of being told, “NO.”
These three skills are often overlooked in the conversation about developing entrepreneurial thinking. We tend to speak only about creativity and financial literacy. While those concepts are important, critical elements of success lie in teaching a child that their ideas matter by giving them room to think, and teaching them to ask for what they need. When you engage in these simple activities you are subconsciously developing their entrepreneurial genius.
Mrs.Queenie Johnson, M.A., Leadership Expert for Biz Moms, believes that by helping mompreneurs unfold their brilliance, their children will have an impeccable model for what's possible in their futures. Queenie partners with mamas (the creative type) who are ready to cultivate a limitless and strategic mindset so that they can build their business empires, create the flexibility they need to powerfully parent the innovator and brilliant thinker within their child, and pass those qualities onto their children. Find Ms.Queenie at www.MamaBeBrilliant.com.
Mrs.Queenie Johnson, M.A.
Brilliant Mama, Let's Build Your Brand, Business & Brilliant Child
I'm a Celebrity Family Education Consultant, Personal Brand Strategist and the brains behind and Founder of The School of Brilliant Thinkers. I believe that by helping mompreneurs (like you) unfold their brilliance, their children will have an impeccable model for what's possible in their futures. Mama Be Brilliant is our signature program to help moms market their brilliance + amplify their brand presence in the marketplace.
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