One of the greatest lessons I share with my kids is challenging them to think big.
Big thinkers that can help drive new theories for cleaner living, stronger morals, and innovative technologies that will help us live better. While I don’t have a clue on how to teach them physics, bio-engineering, or even how to program the clock on the microwave, I do know how to teach them to think outside of the box.
The world needs less sheep and more leaders.
One sly trick I use with the kids to encourage them to think big is creative problem solving. I think the universe agrees with me on this one, because it’s constantly giving me new material to work with. It’s amazingly effective. For example, we go to McDonald’s for hot chocolate and the perfectly annoyed teenager chimes back, “No. It’s broke.”
My five year old daughter doesn’t skip a beat and pipes back, “Oh, okay…well, you have chocolate milk over there…can you just heat that up and put whipped topping and sprinkles on it? Please?” Oh yeah. I am grinning ear to ear mouthing to myself, “Boo-ya! That’s my girl!” Of course, she’s naturally sharp as a tack, but I think Mommy had at least a little bit to do with it.
Ever since the kids first started talking I’ve encouraged them to think through their own problems, ideas, and theories. If they had a question, they knew Mom would have one too. “Why do cows have milk?” was answered with a “Why do you think cows have milk?” After a few stabs at the answer we’d consult the encyclopedia for clarification.
Their early understandings of the world were vibrant brainstorming sessions instead of dull brainwashing sessions. I didn’t teach them what to think, but instead how to think. Maybe I’m wrong, but I figure they will be inundated with plenty of information, facts, and formulas during their school careers. They don’t need that from me. What they need is a role model who encourages them to create their own solutions. An advocate that gives them the confidence needed to dare to build a better mouse trap. And at times, a drill sergeant that can show tough love as I push them to be brave in their intellect.
As the poor kid at McDonald’s consults with his manager on how to answer my little girl, my mind wanders. I daydream about her sitting at the head of a biotech firm announcing they’ve discovered the cure for cancer or her changing the lives of autistic children with her innovative education strategies. I may not know where her big thinking will take her, but I do know it will indeed take her places. As her Mom, I will have plenty of questions to fuel her fire along the way.