by Brenda S Miles, PhD, C Psych
Clinical Paediatric Neuropsychologist
It’s week three of our new Possibilities Word of the Week Project. We hope this initiative provides a small dose of direction and a big dose of inspiration as your kids continue to stay home 24/7 during COVID-19.
Our word this week is dream.
Big dreams are important. They make life exciting, and they propel us to achieve great things. “Dream” is a big word at Possibilities. In fact, when we meet children and teens for the first time at our clinic, we ask them to complete our Possibilities Dream Profile. The first question is this:
Someday I want to be the world’s greatest __________________________.
Some children say “athlete”. Some say “scientist”. Some say “comedian”. Dreams belong to the dreamer; there are no right or wrong answers here.
Dreams are interesting things. They are sparkly and shiny, and far more exciting than homework or chores. Dreams are powerful things, too, because they keep dreamers striving for a very long time, even when rewards aren’t immediate or guaranteed! Your child might bail quickly on a math problem but spend hours shooting a puck or throwing a basketball—over and over—trying to perfect a shot. You’d see the opposite if your child loved math but disliked sports.
Here’s a fact that psychologists know for sure. When we care about something, we work longer and harder to achieve that something—whatever it is—than we would for something we care much less about. So, passion supports persistence. IGNITE, our first word of the week a few weeks back was based on this principle. We suggested you reflect on your children’s authentic interests and then provide, as best you could, the time, space and basic materials so those interests could be pursued. Your child’s brain would be intensely occupied by something it values, and you’d gain some time (hopefully) to focus on your remote work.
This week’s word extends that idea. What ignites your child’s enthusiasm probably has a lot to do with big dreams. So talk about dreams—a lot. Big dreams don’t have to wait until COVID-19 subsides. Encourage your child or teen to create a Dream Board (also called a Vision Board) with pictures, drawings, lettering and other embellishments. Vision Boards makes dreams visible—simple as that. If your teen dreams of being a marine biologist, the Vision Board might be decorated with photographs of fish, coral and scuba gear.
Dream Boards can be inspiring to look at, but here’s something else psychologists know for sure. Goals need action or nothing gets done. Ever. And getting stuff done can be really hard, especially if your child has ADHD. Remember, though, that dreams have an advantage over chores and homework. Your kids want to accomplish dreams (versus chores!), so there’s incentive to make them happen.
Talk to your child or teen about actions that can be taken right now, even while everyone is home, to make dreams happen. Maybe that means watching a shark documentary for the aspiring marine biologist, running drills through pylons in the basement for the house-bound hockey player, or making films on a cell phone for the budding movie director. Have your child or teen put a checkmark on a calendar whenever concrete actions are taken towards achieving a dream. That way, the brain can see the big dream on the Vision Board, plus all the follow-through that’s happening to make the dream come true!
We’ve met many big dreamers at our office. Watch this video and feel inspired!
Until next week, revel in possibilities.
If your family has been inspired by our Possibilities Word of the Week, send a story or photograph to firstname.lastname@example.org. It might be featured in our next post!