By Essie Bester
As parents, our most important work is to ensure our children grow up to one day be honest, loyal and courageous individuals. In today’s world this is easier said than done.
Times are changing
The world has changed drastically since we were children. Our society is now better connected, but controversial and more confusing than ever before.
For previous generations the path to the future was more straightforward. You just had to work hard at school, obtain a university degree or other post-school qualification. This was your guarantee to getting a good job with a company that would take care of you for the rest of your life. However, this is no longer the case.
Today, parents can no longer assume that their children will go through life effortlessly. To be successful in this new competitive and often chaotic environment requires perseverance, intelligence and a strong entrepreneurial spirit. Parents can ensure that in coming years their children will have a strong advantage by cultivating these values in them from an early age.
Following are some ways in which parents can encourage their children to embrace the intellectual capacity of an entrepreneur:
As parents you may already have noticed how much of your own behaviour your child picks up and imitates. However, you need not be an entrepreneur or small-business owner yourself to set a good example for your children – entrepreneurship after all is an attitude, not a career.
Hard work, creativity and perseverance are key elements for the entrepreneurial spirit. Parents who want to see these qualities in their children have to demonstrate them in their own actions by seeking creative solutions to problems, staying positive in spite of failure, and being self-reliant.
- Introduce your child to the concept of risk and reward at an early age.
In order to understand the value of hard work, you first have to possess a good understanding of risk and reward. As modern parents, the temptation is great to protect our children against risks, while we still grant the rewards. It is this helicopter style of parenting that is often blamed for the sense of righteousness which many children claim, while lacking accountability.
Parents should resist the urge to want to protect their children against everything and rather help them to embrace a sense of realism. For this reason, it is important to strengthen the relationship between risk and reward in your child.
To execute this can however be problematic. There is after all a subtle but important distinction between entrepreneurial risk and conduct, which is a general risk. For the sake of this distinction, we use the term ‘initiative’ instead of risk. This means to be creative and to take proactive steps to achieve what you desire. And yes, of course it is a risk – there is after all no guarantee that it will work out.
- Encourage creativity and take ideas seriously.
If you take steps to build a solid entrepreneurial base for your child, he or she will start coming forward with unique ideas, Initially these ideas might often sound strange/over the top or even funny.
However, take care not to discourage your child. Take his ideas seriously, no matter how silly they might be. Never laugh about them. Encourage him to pursue the idea and to reflect on what he would need to achieve it.
Today’s children have to be entrepreneurial if they want to succeed in the economy of the future. And while the facts of entrepreneurship can be learnt in school, parents should cultivate the entrepreneurial spirit in their children from an early age for it to take hold.