Caring for You and Your Family

Raising an entrepreneurial child

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Tomorrow’s business leaders and startup founders will be today’s young kids whose parents have raised them with an entrepreneurial spirit — a skill that is increasingly important as young people flood the startup world and the freelance economy grows.

As a parent, you inspire entrepreneurship by fostering the emotional skills your child will need, such as comfort with risk, effective problem solving, and a positive attitude toward failure.

Here are five parenting tips to help you foster entrepreneurial qualities in your kids.

1. Model effective problem solving. To prepare kids to find business ideas in everyday life, bolster their problem solving skills while they’re young. When problems come up in your child’s life, brainstorm solutions together. Help them identify the problem, think of all the possible solutions, weigh the pros and cons, and choose the best option.

2. Help kids learn from failure. As a parent, you influence your child’s willingness to try, fail, learn, and try again — an essential skill for entrepreneurs. To do this, frame criticism as a learning opportunity by helping your child practice the skill or brainstorm what they could do differently next time.

3. Let kids make decisions. An entrepreneur’s confident decisions are rooted in early independence. When kids are toddlers, you might give them the choice of spinach or broccoli with dinner, or let them choose their outfits. “You’re exposing them to what it feels like to make a decision, and helping them feel good for being able to do that,” Vazanna says.

4. Foster a sense of mastery. Entrepreneurs take huge risks, but being comfortable with uncertainty doesn’t happen overnight. Kids need the freedom to test their boundaries and master fears while they’re young.

5. Teach constructive ways to challenge the status quo. Kids are often taught to follow the rules blindly, a habit that inhibits entrepreneurship. Instead, teach kids to challenge norms constructively by articulating their rationale. Ask, what do they think needs to change, and why? What do they propose instead?

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