How to Teach Your Kids Leadership Skills
Parent coach Dr. Steven Richfield tells parents that, if you are successful in instill leadership skills in your child, you’re giving him or her an Intertops casino bonus in living a more productive and happy life. According to Dr. Richfield, "Leadership skills can make the difference between a child who thoughtlessly follows the arrogant will of the majority versus the trailblazer who obeys their own moral principles and sensible convictions."
Teaching your child leadership skills doesn’t mean that you’re trying to mold the child into a leader. It means that you’re giving him or her the tools to follow his or her own path without bowing to what others might think. You want your child to be confident, to have the ability to communicate thoughts and ideas, to be resilient in the face of adversity and to have emotional intelligence that will inspire others to strive for honesty and integrity.
For some children, leadership skills come naturally. For others, they need to be taught – not in a frontal classroom situation but through modeling and open communication.
What can you do to help your child develop such leadership skills?
Set a good example for your children. As a parent, you can allow your children to see how you behave in your own business and personal life so that they have your example to follow. If they see you returning an item to the store after you’ve used it, what is that going to tell them? That it pays to be sneaky.
If they see you speaking disrespectfully to public servants, service personnel or others, they’re going to imitate you, reducing their own ability to lead by example. Don’t tell your children how to act – show them.
Encourage your child to accept responsibility. The responsibilities should be age-appropriate – nine-year-olds shouldn’t be babysitting and twelve-year-olds shouldn’t be working in construction. But from a young age, children can and should know that they have a part in making the household work. Taking out garbage, doing dishes, picking up toys, keeping a younger sibling amused…..these are all things that kids can begin doing from a young age.
There may be some types of financial or other rewards that you want to give to your child for his/her part in taking on these jobs. There’s nothing wrong with that. But just knowing that they are somehow helping in the functioning of the home is essential in building the child’s confidence and helping him/her develop those future leadership skills.
If a child grows up thinking that s/he has no part in making decision that affect him/her, s/he won’t be able to make good decisions later on in life. From an early age, your child should be given a role in making age-appropriate decisions. The scope of those decisions, and the way that you present the decisions to your child, are important.
At a young age you can ask them to decide whether they want 2 cookies or a piece of cake for dessert, or whether they want to watch an afternoon TV program about dinosaur buddies or a friendly group of flying tortoises. It helps to give the child two or three options, along with some pros and cons of each (“you really liked the dinosaur show the last time that you saw it” or “the cake is chocolate, just what you like”). As time goes on, your child will develop skills to make informed decisions and live with the consequences of those choices.
The ability to make informed decisions and live with the consequences of those decisions can also be developed by giving the child the chance to plan out and execute projects and events. The process of planning out a project doesn’t need to be complicated or long-term.
By giving the child the responsibility to create a schedule, make lists of needed items and coordinate the activities that are needed to fill up the pantry, take a vacation, order something online or accomplish any of the other day-to-day activities that occur in a family, the child will be given the opportunity to be responsible for the activity and benefit from the outcome.
Leaders must be able to communicate well, and must feel comfortable communicating. Give your child practice communicating whenever possible and in every possible situation in age-appropriate milieus. Let them speak directly to servers in restaurants to place orders, to teachers at school to express frustrations or ask questions, to store personnel when shopping and in any other circumstance possible.
How many times do we smooth over problems for our children? It’s a natural reaction, and often necessary. But there are times that it’s OK to step back and let the child problem-solve for himself. Problem-solving skills are probably one of the most important skills that anyone needs to master, especially a leader.
If a child grows up thinking that someone will always be there to make everything better, why would s/he try to learn to solve problems? When your child is frustrated with a problem, learn to say things like “what are your options here?” and “how can we change things?”
Teach your child to negotiation, compromise and consider various options when trying to solve a problem. Show them how to weigh pros and cons of various situations in the search for a solution. Don’t forget to point out that achieving ultimate success involves making mistakes along the way – if your child is afraid of making a mistake, s/he will be less likely to make decisions and take action – which is exactly what leaders need to be prepared to do.
After the child has worked through the problem, you can review the challenges and obstacles that presented themselves as you decide whether the solution was the correct one and if things could/should have been done differently. Reading
We all read, but are there benefits of reading beyond enjoying the text itself? Study after study has shown that children who read are more apt to engage in complex thinking skills when they encounter obstacles and challenges. Reading promotes learning about different cultures, different ideas and different types of people, all of which are needed in leadership positions.
Instilling leadership skills in your child doesn’t mean that you’re preparing him or her to become the next leader of the country. It means that you’re preparing him or her to be a valued member of society who isn’t scared to take on leadership roles, can solve problems, work in a team, and act responsibly.
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