It takes a lot of work to raise your kids right. Just as all entrepreneurs fail at some things, no parent is likely to get it all perfect. Some things they’ll just have to learn on their own, right? And that’s okay.
The biggest problem all parents face is figuring out what to teach their kids and what to let them figure out on their own.
The very worst thing you can do is send them off into the world thinking they’ll be a master of their own destiny, when everything they’ll learn in school and their friends, is that there will always be someone out there willing to help them pay the bills. Artificial intelligence, robotics, nan-tech, and a plethora of other factors mean that as your kids grow up in the next couple of decades, more and more J.O.B.’s will be lost to the machines and other societal factors.
Here are a few things you can do to better prepare your kids for entrepreneurship, so they’re never at the mercy of a dying job market:
1. Talk to them as adults (the majority of the time.)
This refers to, in my opinion, one of the worst mistakes we all make as parents. How can you raise an adult when you only start talking to them with respect in their teenage years? Of course, this in between endless bouts of teenage angst and rebellion!
Often, we rarely begin to enjoy adult conversations with our kids until they actually move out of the house. This sets them back in their development, keeping them feeling like a meager child — while keeping on a level playing field with you and your spouse will make them feel like they’re part of a bigger picture early on.
Your kids need to feel confident starting a conversation with you and other adults. What they don’t need to experience is being talked over or worse; talked about like they’re not even in the room when you’re carrying on conversations with other adults. This doesn’t breed a confident entrepreneurial mindset at all.
Talk to them just like you do adults, even when you’re scolding them. Believe it or not, kids raised this way rarely act childish when they don’t get their way, and grow up to be less impulsive and more calculating in their decision-making when faced with problems, including heated human interactions.
2. Surround them with entrepreneurs.
This one might be tough if you don’t have an entrepreneurial spirit yourself. However, the more you can surround your kids with the types of people you want them to grow into one day, the better the likelihood they’ll gravitate toward inking their own paychecks.
How many kids have you heard of that went down the wrong path because they couldn’t escape the surroundings they had as children? Same principal at work here, only for their betterment rather than their ultimate failure at life…
Skimming through the biographies of successful entrepreneurs, it might seem like many of them happened by mistake, but it’s very rare. They either learned key skills and other attributes directly from their parents, or were influenced by other entrepreneurs they admired growing up.
3. Avoid letting them use technology to solve problems until…
In those formative early years, it’s important to keep technological aids out of the problem solving equation whenever possible. Allow your children to brainstorm solutions to common and even complex issues using their own brains. This includes calculators and any other apps that make it easy to get solutions without any mental effort whatsoever.
They need to use their brains in order to develop the skills they’ll need later on. Encourage your kids to really verbalize the entire problem solving process. Help them identify problems, but let them put a lot of effort into finding the solutions: What the options are, pros and cons of each, next steps, etc.
4. Start teaching them about the school of hard knocks early.
I won’t offer up any of the hundreds of cliches about failure today — we’ve all heard enough of that for now. Still, many parents get the lessons about this necessary evil all wrong while rearing their kids, often discouraging failure-prone activities rather than encouraging them. Both parents (if applicable) need to have a united front in encouraging their kids to try difficult things, even when the chance of a successful outcome is very slim.
Looking back as an adult, we all need to visualize ourselves as a fly on the wall of our younger selves. Look back to a time when you came to a cross-roads and either didn’t like the odds yourself, or simply caved to parental or peer pressure and avoided doing something even though our gut told us to push on. Don’t let your kid become that person looking back wondering why you didn’t push them to do those uncomfortable things that could have changed the course of their lives for the better.
A child psychologist told my parents when I was young to: “Allow them to fail, regardless of what other parents are doing around you. Don’t get sucked into a crowd mentality, thinking your children will be forever scarred by feeling they’re the only one dumb enough in the room to try something difficult. They’ll love you for it later.” I was a rambunctious kid and this was the eighties — the advice didn’t go over well with me at the time, but I sure got the message later on in life.
5. Encourage type-a behavior at all costs.
Type-a’s are known for seeking mastery at all disciplines. Even though you’ll have to teach them there will be some skills they just won’t be the best at, you still need to foster a desire within them to do their best and not accept mediocre results.
When you can tell they’ve done their best, but haven’t attained perfection, brainstorm with them to get them thinking about what was missing from a given task or effort. Point them in the right direction, if you have to, in a constructive and supportive way. Just don’t let them walk away without understanding why you think they could have done better.
Share your tips and tricks for raising the entrepreneurs of tomorrow.
It takes a village to raise a child, right?
Main Image Credit: Brandon Atkinson/Flickr