4 Ways to Empower Our Children to Dream


Dreams do come true. All it takes is some magic in the form of perseverance, tenacity, and passion. And while that magic certainly comes from within, it is fostered by us as parents.

I know next to nothing about basketball. But I do know that Caitlin Clark is the sports world’s brightest star of the moment

In April, Clark was drafted by the Indiana Fever as the 2024 Women’s National Basketball Association’s first pick. That’s because the basketball phenom has done more than shatter glass ceilings. She surpassed dozens of national records during her years at the University of Iowa, where she earned the title of the most points scored all-time by any college player — among women and men. Her popularity even led to the broadcast of the NCAA’s women’s final game garnering more viewers than the men’s game by millions, for the first time ever. This success of course is due to endless training, innate talent, dedicated mentors… and Clark’s commitment and confidence that were nurtured at a young age. 

Encouragement to Believe

“In second grade, I wrote on a piece of paper: ‘Get drafted into WNBA, earn a basketball scholarship,’… This is something I’ve always wanted to do,” Clark shared moments before she made history in the draft.

Studies–and countless personal development experts–have confirmed that writing down our goals (in addition to the Tipping Point of daily practice) ‘gazillionifies’ our likelihood of achievement. How did Clark know to do this at only seven years old? Mom and Dad.

Over the course of her success, Clark has reflected on her parents serving as constant sources of advice and encouragement to believe in herself. 

That’s where the magic happens. It’s our responsibility (as parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers, coaches) to instill these values early so our children grow up feeling them deep within their core.

Image: An outdoor basketball hoop with palm trees in the background
Photo by TJ Dragotta on Unsplash

Set Up to Succeed

Angela Duckworth’s book–Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverancebecame an instant New York Times bestseller nearly 10 years ago. She believes success is determined by grit, which results from doubling the value of effort. Duckworth says that effort builds skill and makes that skill productive

Duckworth’s Grit Formula
Talent x Effort = Skill
Skill x Effort = Achievement

I’d like to take this one step further. It’s our job to set our kids up for success, which means we must help them develop the necessary tools today. As early as possible. They shouldn’t have to wait to learn this from a self-help podcast or a PD book when they’re searching for more in young adulthood. 

Clark’s parents cheered her on from the beginning. She is the product of talent, effort, skill, achievement, grit AND, first and foremost, a circle of loved ones who inspired her to believe in herself by teaching her how to transform goals into dreams and vision into reality. 

Here are 4 ways we can empower our children: 

    1. Shoot some hoops. It doesn’t have to be basketball, but show your kids that you have your own interests and passions. Make sure your children witness you pursuing something beyond parenting.
    2. Be interested and be interesting. Ask your kids about their dreams. Share examples of your own dreams and how lifelong learning means lifelong goal-setting. Maybe you’re still on your way. In the eyes of your children, your commitment will only inspire.
    3. Write the roadmap, and take the journey together. Encourage your children to think about steps they (and we) need to take to realize these dreams. Identify success stories; read books or watch videos about these role models together. Maybe it’s daily practice or perhaps it’s research and networking. Map out your goals and plans together.
    4. Do hard things. Be a source of comfort and encouragement when your children struggle, and be open about risk-taking and your own challenges, failures, and successes. These are moments of learning.

At every point of development and at every level of success, we owe it to our children to believe in them in a way that they can internalize it, inspiring and empowering our children to dream and achieve. Indeed, parenting’s greatest win.


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