It’s been said that leadership starts at home. It just may be that leadership is, at least in part, an outgrowth of early training. There is disagreement among experts as to just how much leadership is inborn and just how much is learned, and there is really no way to settle that disagreement. It’s likely that it’s a combination of learning and natural ability. My belief is that leadership can be taught.
If you’d like to do what you can to raise your children to be good leaders, here are some tips that may help.
1. Teach Them to Think
Some sources point out that the school system, public and private, teaches kids what to think rather than how to think. Of course, there are probably exceptions to this – special schools and special teachers – but it’s entirely possible that your kids are not being taught how to think. So whether you homeschool or have your kids in public school, you might try some of these exercises to help your kids think on their own.
* Give them an age-appropriate reading assignment that expresses a particular point of view. An opinion piece in the newspaper is a good place to start. Ask what your child thinks about it, and have him or her write an age-appropriate response to the piece. Do the same thing with an article that expresses the opposite or a different view.
* Encourage them to read work that covers a range of opinions and views.
* Ask them if they agree or disagree, and why.
* Any time your child reads something, ask him (or her) what he thinks about it. Find out what he gleaned from the reading rather than finding out if he picked up what she was “supposed to” from the reading.
Leaders tend to be independent thinkers, so these exercises may go a long way toward teaching your child to be a good leader.
2. Teach Organization
This may be something of a challenge for parents who aren’t that organized to begin with! And for those parents who are very organized, you might find that you just organize everything for your kids without teaching them to do it themselves. So finding a balance is a good idea.
Try giving them a calendar and show them how to keep track of their own activities. Chore lists are also a good way to help them organize their time. Age-appropriate chores and activities, written on a calendar, can help kids “see” their time and how it’s being spent, even if they are too young to tell time yet.
3. Ask for Arguments
Okay, that may sound like something parents don’t want to do. But the art of arguing respectfully is an important leadership quality. We’re not talking about angry arguments; it’s more about negotiation and persuasion. Ask your child to tell you why he (she) wants a certain thing, or why he should be allowed to attend an event or participate in an activity. This helps your children learn how to analyze and present an argument (which is really a list of reasons) to achieve a goal.