Last summer, we were preparing for our 4 year old daughter to start school in the September. Due to this transition, I was thinking of the different ways that I could get her ready for this new chapter in her life. This was a big thing for her, actually, this was a huge thing! She had been dreaming of the day she would start school for so long and it was now only a matter of weeks before she would be starting. It dawned on me that not only would starting school be a dream come true but there were so many other wishes (as she would call them) that I hadn’t really understood the depth them of to her. Had I considered the importance of my child’s wishes?
Why I encouraged my pre-schooler to talk about her hopes and dreams
I spend a lot of time taking with my husband about our hopes and dreams. I remember discussing some way back when we first started dating. It’s a part of understanding a persons heart and their drive. As a result, it connects you on a deeper level. I had discussed the hopes and dreams of friends and family over the years. I knew their dreams but somehow a child’s dreams seem to be less significant. They’re too young to have hopes and dreams. They don’t understand. A child’s dreams can find themselves in the bracket of flitting wants rather than desires. “Can we buy that toy?” “I really wish I could have another cookie.” But how often do we sit and help them to articulate their dreams or even just simply ask about them!
My Daughter’s Hopes and Dreams
I wondered what would happen if I talked with my daughter about her wishes. What was deeper than those on the surface wants? What could I learn from her? Could we connect on a deeper level?
With my daughter being only 4 and a half at the time, I decided that creating a vision board could be a fun activity. We would have somewhere to put all of these wishes and somewhere we could look back and review them. We called this her Wish Board to make it easier to understand.
With some prompting, I encouraged her to talk about what she wished for in the different areas of her life. I was surprised at the different types of wishes that she had. Some of them were, cooking more often me with, owning pink slime, finding lots of feathers and being on stage. Once we had gotten into the swing of the activity, I encouraged her to talk about her wishes with starting school. She told me how she wanted to make lots of friends, read lots of books and draw every day. Once we had a list of wishes, we found images that related to each wish, cut them out and stuck them on a large piece of cardboard.
Connecting through a Vision Board
I found I really started to understand her heart.
I’d gone from knowing what she liked, to realising how important some of those likes were. I was truly beginning to understand the importance of my child’s wishes. That some of her wishes were connected to a bigger dream. For example, she loves watching Annie the movie, the new and old version. She wanted to see Annie the Musical at the theatre and not only this but she also wanted to play the character Annie. Lastly, she wanted to be on stage. All of these made me realise how much she loved musical theatre.
It was such an eye opening experience that I’d love to share with you how I found out so much about my 4 year old’s hopes and dreams and how you too, can see the importance of your child’s wishes with simple and fun task too.
What Questions Did I Ask?
- What things do you wish for? This opens the conversation to the wishes they think about a lot and won’t need much prompting. It could be toys, it could be something so small that they find happiness in like “finding lots of feathers” or big dreams like “being on stage”. These are the hopes and dreams close to their heart. The ones they really find joy in.
- If you could go anywhere in the world, what places would you visit? Disney World? The local library? It really could be anywhere, you’d be surprised with the types of answers you could get with this one.
- What would you like to own? These might be useful items like the pair of scissors my daughter wanted to use for chopping ingredients in the kitchen, or items like fairy wings.
- What would you like to do more of? Is there something they already do but you could help them to do more of?
- What would you like to happen at school? If they haven’t yet started school, this might need a little more prompting. What would you like to do there? Learn, read, write, play? If they have already started, it could highlight a subject or area of school they are particularly interested in. On the flip side, it could highlight any concerns or problems they are having.
- What would you like to do more with Mummy / Daddy? This question provides an opportunity for your child to share their basic loves with their parents. Could it be movies and popcorn, going for walks, playing?
What Did I Learn?
I found this exercise to be incredibly insightful. Not only was I able to connect with her on a deeper level and really get to grips with the importance of my child’s wishes. We were able to discuss all of these wishes in greater depth.
- I really appreciated some of the smaller dreams. Like finding lots of feathers. This would no longer be my daughter finding yet another feather, it would be that she found a feather! From then on, I knew that when she came to show me a feather she had found, how truly excited she was. I was able to share in her excitement.
- I better understood her desires. Meeting a celebrity chef she admired! Visiting 4 theme parks, she had heard about. Being on stage.
- I gauged a better idea of the tasks she enjoyed. She wanted to cook more. This one I had known but talking about it encouraged me to want to spend more time in the kitchen with her. Simple tasks like these where we get to spend quality time together while she is learning and fulfilling her dreams.
- I understood what was important to her when starting school. This was not a situation where I would guess or impose what I thought she felt about school, she told me. I learned that she wanted to learn to read lots of books, so we read even more in the lead up to school. She wanted to make lots of friends. This opened the conversation up to the different ways to make friends at school. What you might say when you first meet someone. The qualities that make a good friend. That everyone is different.
How did My Daughter Benefit from this Exercise?
- I was able to buy her some items that led to her bigger dreams. I bought her that pair of red scissors, a small item that cost hardly anything but it meant a lot to her bigger wish of cooking with me more often.
- With her love of Annie the Musical, it so happened that the musical was coming to our city the month after her 5th birthday. My husband and I purchased tickets as a birthday present for her.
- My daughter now attends drama classes. We had thought it would be something she would be interested in for a while. We held back however, thinking that it may have been something we thought she would enjoy rather than it coming directly from her.
- Patience. We talked about how some wishes might take a lot of time to achieve. While others might be easier to come true. She used some of her money to buy a tub of pink slime. While getting to see a rainbow or going to Dubai again might take a little more time.
- Some wishes require hard work. Learning a new skill takes hard work and dedication.
The Outcome of Understanding the Importance of a Child’s Wishes
This exercise was not about making each of her wishes come true by buying her slime or butterfly wings. We have learned some valuable lessons in the months since then. My daughter understands that she needs to work hard to achieve some dreams, like learning to read so she read all the books she added to her wish board. Learning to play the piano or getting to play the part of Annie someday.
I was able to influence some parts, such as taking her to see Annie at the theatre and buying a baking box subscription for her birthday however, both gifts, provide her with such value that sits close to her heart. While I might be able to influence a lot of my own dreams with my financial earnings, the same can’t be said for a child!
If I can teach my daughter to dream big and work hard to achieve her dreams at such a young age in a child friendly way, I think is such a valuable lesson that she can carry for life. Understanding the importance of my child’s wishes made us closer and anytime a wish of hers from her board comes true, we talk about it, we celebrate it, we discuss the process it took to get there and she loves watching her wishes, hopes and dreams steadily coming true.