Within every single child lurks the makings of a future leader. As parents, it’s up to us to bring that potential forth and nurture it. I think just about all parents dream of seeing their children grow up to become President, win a Noble prize or make history by changing the world. Even though we know we’ll be proud of our kids no matter what they do, as long as they’re happy and healthy, we still want to give them the chance to unleash their full leadership potential.
How can we give our kids their best chance at a bright future? How do we nurture future true leaders? Check out these 7 everyday easy ways to help your children unleash their inner leaders!
7 Ways to Help Your Kids Become True Leaders
Here’s the great thing about unleashing your child’s leadership potential: any parent can do it! You don’t have to send your kids off to fancy schools or spend thousands of dollars on “leader-maker” activities. You already have everything you need within yourself!
Be a positive role model
Children learn by watching others and often model their behavior after what they see. If you give your child a chance to interact with positive role models (you!), they’re more likely to become one themselves in the future. Model the behavior you want to see in your future leaders and they’ll follow suit.
Help them develop good decision-making skills
Our future leaders need to be prepared to make hard decisions. Whether they grow up to become President of the country or CEO of their own company, there will be times that they are faced with challenges. Foster a sense of self-confidence and decision-making skills by giving your kids a chance to make their own age-appropriate difficult choices!
Even something as simple as deciding to eat their veggies at dinner so they can have dessert versus not eating them and missing out on dessert gives your kids an opportunity to flex their decision-making skills and learn more about the effect of those decisions.
Really listen and HEAR them!
True leaders aren’t just listened to, they’re heard. As parents, we’re often overwhelmed and trying to multitask all the time. We seem like we’re listening to our kids, but we’re not really hearing them. Our kids want to use their voices for change, we just need to teach them that their opinions matter. Next time your child tells you about his day, stop what you’re doing and really hear it.
Be open with them about your own mistakes
Every single true leader makes mistakes. It’s through our mistakes that we learn better ways of doing things. Our kids don’t just need to know that we’ll forgive their mistakes, but that we’re not perfect either. I’m not saying you have to go into detail about every single crazy thing you did as a college student, but let your kids know that you haven’t always made perfect choices either. Then take the opportunity to work together to figure out how to correct the mistake.
Give praise where praise is due
Kids deserve praise when it’s earned. The key word: earned. Praising your child over every adorable move they make isn’t going to help boost their confidence in the long run. However, holding praise back because you’re afraid they won’t be “tough enough” in the future doesn’t help them either. Recognize your child’s victories- both big and small- with praise for a job well done.
Give them a chance to land on their own two feet
As much as you want to rush in and fix everything for your kids, raising future leaders means giving them a chance to figure things out for themselves sometimes. Rather than rushing in with an answer to their problem, help them work through it by asking open-ended questions that lead them to a solution.
Help them find their passion
Leaders are often born out of passion. Sometimes that passion is for a cause, like the child who wants to become class president so he can get recess extended to 20 minutes instead of 15. Sometimes that passion is a sport, like the child who grows up to become coach of a Major League baseball team. Passions can be academic or artistic, worldly or community-oriented. Your job is to help your child find that spark, that one thing (or more!) that really drives him and motivates him. That’s where he’s really going to find his inner true leader.
Celebrate True Leaders with 4-H
Part of helping your child become a true leader is giving them a chance to see other youth leaders in action. The 4-H Grow True Leaders campaign does just that. 4-H has a long history of helping kids develop leadership skills through their youth programs, making them the perfect companion to your own efforts to raise a future leader. With your support, we can show our kids what a true leader looks like while supporting youths who really embody the meaning of “leadership.”
Join in on the Thunderclap campaign to show your support for our future leaders! It’s super simple, just share the message on Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr and encourage your friends to do the same. You can also give a shout out to a special young leader in your community! Just use the #TrueLeaders hashtag on your social media along with your message. Take it a step further by submitting a story about your young leader for a chance to have them featured on the 4-H Facebook page!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of 4-H. The opinions and text are all mine.