A strong desire to do or to achieve something through determination and hard work
“Ambition is the last refuge of the failure.”
“Ambition has one heel nailed in well, though she stretch her fingers to touch the heavens.”
“Ambition is a dream with a V8 engine.”
“A man without ambition is dead. A man with ambition but no love is dead. A man with ambition and love for his blessings here on earth is ever so alive.”
Children are naturally ambitious, and this can be witness by watching them learn to talk, walk, and develop. This kind of determined ambition is admirable, and if you want your children to sustain these natural tendencies to succeed, you can foster a greater sense of ambition as they grow. Offer your child opportunities to try new things, such as music or dance lessons. Encourage children to find activities that they enjoy in participating and excel. Support them in developing skills, abilities and talents. Encourage your child to take risks and to learn from failures to foster ambition.
Don't let your child succumb to peer pressure by thinking that succeeding academically isn't "cool." Children are often so concerned with being perceived as either too smart or too dumb in the moment that they don't consider their future; thus, choosing short-term social acceptance over long-term academic goals.
Promote your child's dreams. If your daughter says she wants to become a brain surgeon and save lives, tell her that she can absolutely become a brain surgeon who saves lives. You can even help her decide how she can make that happen. For example, sit down with her and ask her if she knows everything that's involved in becoming a brain surgeon—help her make a list of things she has to accomplish, such as making excellent grades, learning to study effectively, attending college, going to medical school and even applying for scholarships to help pay for college.
Let life challenge your child, and let your child handle those challenges. It's difficult for some parents to let go and allow their kids to experience failure and defeat, but it is an important part of the learning process. Learning from mistakes and facing challenges head on can provide your child with the confidence to chase their ambition.
Ideas for cultivating ambition in kids:
1. Let them fail, and interpret the failure with them.
Don't rescue them, but if they fall or fail, talk it over. Show them it's not the end of the world and is not a reflection on their identity. It is a chance to try again.
2. Tell them stories about your failures.
Kids can benefit from learning about your own past flops, failure and fumbles. Provide examples for when you were able to overcome past mistakes.
3. Help them put their finger on something they really want to achieve.
Goals are important. They are targets to shoot for and either hit or miss. Once you identify a goal, help them create a plan to reach it.
4. Establish rewards that only come as they work hard and make progress.
Separate the idea of merely "showing up" from exerting effort.
5. Discuss your ambitions and how you felt when you accomplished them.
Talk about an ambition you had years ago, and how you felt when you pursued it.
6. Communicate your love and belief in children, regardless of what happens.
Love should not be a reward for performing. Caring adults must demonstrate belief regardless of their accomplishments. This is a solid foundation for ambition.
Books to share with Children about ambition:
The Gardener by Sarah Stewart; Illustrated by David Small
Ambition's Not An Awful Word by Zack Zage
Egg Drop by Mini Grey
Chicken Dance by Tammi Sauer
The Boxcar Children (Book 1) by Gertrude Chandler Warner