I’m teaching my kids to not say things like “When I’m an adult…” and I’m also quite touchy whenever I hear someone say “When you grow up…” to them, or about them.

When my boys come to me and say “when I grow up I want to…” (which they have done reasonably often lately) I say something like “OK cool, but you can start doing that today! You don’t have to wait until you’re an adult. Here’s what you can start doing right now…”

There’s always first steps kids can take, and entrepreneurial kids have amazing ideas which parents might never have thought of. Even if it’s something like “driving a car”, kids can learn skills to get them one step closer to their goal.

Recently, my oldest son told me he wanted to write and then sell a book. He thought he had to be an adult to do that. I told him that he could do it right now if he wanted. We talked about the process of working on ideas, then drawings, then getting them into the computer and then printing it off or putting it on an ipad. He was excited. He started straight away by writing four pages of a story he called “Lucy and the Dragon”. He drew a cover and talked about it for a few days with me. The book (like most) is currently an unfinished work gathering dust but he may return to it one day.

I’m really passionate about this. Kids and teens are amazing and I think they need to feel like they’re contributing things of value and not just passing time until they’re an adult when they can do “real” jobs and make “real” changes.

I feel like the “when you grow up what to do want to do” question is like a mental brick wall for kids/teens.. and not encouraging them to be the exception right then and there. I’d much rather people say things like this to my kids “What do you love doing right now? What things are you passionate about changing in this world? How can we help you make that happen?”

This post was based on a comment I left after reading Derek Halpern’s post where a bank manager told him as a child “When you get older, you will be an entrepreneur”. She was wrong when she said that to him. Yes, he’s an entrepreneur now, and yes she recognised that in him correctly and she gave great advice by giving him an idea for the next step in continuing to be an entrepreneur. But, he was an entrepreneur then too! He needed a savings account for his iced tea stall profits. Imagine a child being told they are an entrepreneur right then and there and being mentored in how to run a business. Where would they be today?

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