One of the greatest advantages of youth is the ability to carry an enormous amount of positive energy, rebound from failure, and still have a wonderful outlook on the future. The folly of youth allows children to possess grandiose dreams of what adult life will be like, without the reality of planning to make those dreams happen. Teaching children to plan for the future is a touchy subject – if done properly it will help children along the road of life immensely, if done harshly it can crush a childhood, ending it way too soon. It would be a safe assumption that the largest dilemma for a parent would lie in the question of at which age a child should be “enlightened” as to the benefits of good planning.
Teaching children to plan for the future is not a one-dimensional view of what they would like to be when they grow up and how to achieve it. Good planning skills should be taught to encompass all areas of life, and to keep a healthy balance between them, not placing an undue amount of importance on any one area. Remember, teaching children to plan for the future includes careers, spirituality, morality, health, finances, and about 100 other topics that will eventually present your children with a place to stumble in life. Good planning requires the ability to think ahead, and have an appropriate course of action when the first plan fails. Explain to children that the best conceived plans may occasionally fail, and to be prepared for the fallout when they do.
A very good way to teach children to prepare for the future is to find something that a child may desire in the short-term future, say 6 months or so. Sit down with pen and paper, and formulate a detailed plan with your child on what needs to occur before the goal will be met. Listen more than you speak, and allow your child to demonstrate what their thought processes are in the area of planning. After your child has spoken, go back to the beginning and give an adults view of aspects that may require more thought. Take a day or two to let your child dwell on their plan, and arrange for another planning session at a later date. It will usually amaze the average parent at how in depth a child’s ability to plan improves when they study a subject for a few days.
Teaching your children to plan for the future is really nothing more of a lesson plan than showing them that most good things in life do not occur by happenstance. Good life planning skills are basically setting a goal, and configuring a road map on how to get there.