Today, children can assume the role of entrepreneurs in a variety of ways, from opening a lemonade stand to mowing lawns in the neighborhood. Older children may even be able to develop mobile apps. Finding ways to encourage entrepreneurship in young minds can help them develop a number of unique skills, from solving problems to learning financial management.
Parents should take advantage of opportunities to teach their kids about entrepreneurship and encourage them to start and maintain businesses. These lessons can prove invaluable later in life and set them up for success as young adults and beyond.
Some ways to encourage entrepreneurship in children include:
1. Brainstorm ideas.
Often, children want money for entertainment purposes, such as video games or toys. When faced with this situation, parents can work with their children to brainstorm ideas for earning money.
If the child offers an idea like raking leaves or cleaning pools, parents can encourage them by asking how they might turn that suggestion into a business. Parents can make brainstorming formal by using tools like mind maps to keep track of ideas. Mind maps can help children visualize the connection between their suggestions and identify the best path forward.
Activities like these help children become critical thinkers. They learn how to solve problems on their own and find creative solutions to long-term problems. This is the heart of entrepreneurship.
2. Encourage creativity.
One of the best ways for parents to foster a sense of entrepreneurship in their children is to encourage them to think creatively. Children are generally not afraid of being wrong, nor are they constrained by what has been done before.
These traits are all things that children learn over time, often after being told that their ideas are impractical and being discouraged from thinking radically. However, retaining creativity and not fearing failure gives older children a significant advantage when it comes to conceiving of novel products and services.
While parents need to keep their children grounded, they can also foster creativity by supporting the interesting ideas that kids have. Even when a particular idea seems unconventional, parents should ask about it and model a sense of curiosity. If parents stifle their ideas, children will lose their confidence.
3. Foster curiosity.
Sometimes, children’s curiosity can become frustrating. Kids will often repeatedly ask why something is as it is. Instead of discouraging this type of questioning, parents can encourage curiosity and point children in the direction of resources that will help them figure out the answer themselves.
Fostering curiosity in this manner teaches children how to be independent and gives them to tools to learn about subjects that interest them. As children start to narrow in on a few interests, parents can encourage them to dig even deeper and ask questions to keep them investigating and learning.
Regular trips to museums and activity centers can encourage curiosity and introduce children to new ideas they might enjoy exploring. Many science museums are actually constructed to encourage curiosity and investigation, to reinforce what kids are learning at home.
4. Get a mentor.
Just as mentors are important for adult entrepreneurs, they can also prove extremely beneficial to young minds. Children do not always want to take advice from their parents. Connecting them to other adults who can serve as role models is extremely important.
A mentor can be a family friend, an expert in a given field who the parents happen to know, or a local business owner willing to work with a young person. Just the process of securing a mentor can be very helpful for children.
Communicating with other people forces kids to organize and articulate their ideas so that their guide can be helpful. Then, the mentor helps budding entrepreneurs expand on their ideas. Mentors may bring even more to the table than parents can to encourage entrepreneurship in kids.
5. Engage the community.
One of the things that most successful people have in common is engagement in their communities. People are naturally hardwired to help people around them, and engaging with the community early helps build good habits.
Through early volunteering experiences, children can learn the real value of their skills and see how they can make an impact. Often this experience encourages children to think bigger and figure out how they can become even more involved.
When getting children involved with the community, it is important to figure out what ignites their passion. For example, children who are passionate about animals may enjoy volunteering at an animal shelter. They could eventually conceive of a better system for matching pets and adopters as a result of their experiences.