Most parents want their children to grow up to be leaders in some capacity. We want them to be able to inspire others, think independently and act authentically, which is what true leadership is all about. While some personality types naturally bring children to prefer leadership roles, leadership qualities are largely learned. You can model behaviors for your children now to foster the kinds of leadership qualities you want them to develop as they get older.
Give a Balanced Amount of Praise
We all want to make sure our children know we are proud of them and that they have healthy self-esteem, but giving additional praise doesn’t give your children extra self-esteem. Giving too much praise can actually give your children false confidence. Show your children an appropriate amount of praise when they do an exceptional job, but don’t gush over every small action. This will give your children the self-confidence they need to become successful leaders.
Let Them Take Risks and Fail
Nobody wants to see their children fail. Our instinct is to protect them at all costs. But success is largely driven by risk, and in the real world, we won’t be there to protect them. Allow your children to take appropriate risks and sometimes fail. When they do fail, show your support and let them know that it’s ok to fail. Teach them how to learn from each failure and improve.
Don’t Fixate on Their Achievement
Obsessing over achievement will not magically make your children high-achievers. It causes your children undue stress and gives them the wrong idea about how success is reached. Leaders know that it’s best to surround themselves with great people to collaborate and achieve success. Teaching your children to keep their eye on the prize at all times doesn’t allow them to see the larger picture and the group effort that is required to get there.
Let Your Children See Your Mistakes
We are all human and bound to make mistakes from time to time. You can let your children see that you aren’t perfect and still be a role model for your children. Leadership evolves in people who can learn from their mistakes, so model that behavior for your children. Use your mistakes as teachable moments, and your children will have a realistic view of what life is like and how to learn from their own mistakes.
It’s Okay to Say “No”
While it’s not always easy to say “no” to your children, telling them “yes” to every request is doing them a disservice. In life, they will hear “no” quite often. If you set the expectation that the answer is always “yes” and everything will be handed to them, you’re setting them up for major disappointment. Telling your children “no” may disappoint them momentarily, but they will get over it. It’s far less damaging in the long run and will give them realistic expectations for life.
Allow Kids to Problem Solve
Leaders have great critical thinking skills, so it’s important to foster these in your children. You can be there to support and guide your children’s decisions when they need you, but also let them work problems out for themselves so that they learn to take charge and be accountable.
Practice What You Preach
Children are very perceptive and probably notice more than you know. If you’re telling them to do one thing but not putting it into practice yourself, they will likely notice. Modeling leadership qualities is one of the best ways to make sure your children grow up to be leaders. If you’re telling them to take risks and it’s okay to fail, show them that you also take risks, and when you fail you don’t fall apart. Rather, you learn from your mistakes and move forward a little bit stronger.
At Sparkles! we work with children to develop positive leadership qualities so they can be successful not only in the classroom, but at home and in life. If you would like information on how we do this, contact a Sparkles! team member. We’re here to help!