All parents share a dream for their children; they want their little ones to grow into adults who live authentically, passionately, and who face the world with courage. They want their children to act as an inspiration to people around them and to lead exemplary lives. Your role as a parent is to encourage your children and instill leadership qualities in them at a young age. You should understand that leadership is not about being in a position of power; it is about being able to lead oneself and make choices that inspire those around you. Leadership at an individual capacity begins at a young age, and children who possess leadership skills are less likely to become victims of peer pressure.
Your responsibility as a parent is to nurture the leader in your child and ensure that your child is not a follower from a young age. Your influence also guides them into choosing the right career.
1. Allow Your Children to Fail
Failure teaches children to get back on their feet, a lesson they can learn from a tender age. For example, if your child falls when walking, let him struggle his way back on his feet; encourage him to crawl to a nearby object and use it for support when standing up. Being overprotective of your children prevents them from taking risks. As a leader, one quality you must possess is the courage to take risks and deal with failure throughout your life. Failure also brings lessons that one can only learn from making mistakes. Encouraging your children to take risks and deal with failure teaches them the tolerance required to succeed.
2. Be Honest with Your Children
Avoid exaggerating achievements or downplaying failure to protect your children’s self-esteem. If your child fails at something, allow her to feel the loss and encourage her to work harder or approach the situation differently. Giving your child false information about the situation will only hurt her in the long-term. If she succeeds at something, give credit where it is due, but do not exaggerate the situation as it will only boost her ego without motivating her to work harder. In every situation, help your child understand the work that goes into each activity she engages in and to appreciate the effort others bring to the team. Teach your child early that success is a team effort, not an individual pursuit; it will make them better individuals when working with others.
3. Encourage Positivity
Leaders maintain a positive attitude, no matter the situation. They focus on situations they can control and remain optimistic even when there is pressure from their peers. Encourage positivity by helping children to understand the concept. For example, if a child is afraid of making a presentation, help him to work hard on the content, and pay little attention to the audience. You can also encourage him to think “I can do this” or “I am good at this” to help boost his confidence.
4. Show Your True Self
Your children will always look up to you as their hero. In their eyes, you can do no wrong. Subconsciously, this pressures parents into hiding their flaws and putting up a front for their children. However, this works against your kids; they grow up aspiring to be as perfect as their parents. Show your kids that you are human by allowing them to see that you are as vulnerable as they are. Let your kids see that you make mistakes too and make an effort to correct them; it teaches them that they too can recover from their own mistakes. Everybody, including leaders, makes mistakes. Your reaction to an error is the unique factor that sets you apart as an exemplary leader.
5. Lead by Example
Children are like a sponge: they absorb the habits of the adults around them and stick to them as they grow. Set a good example for your kids by keeping the values you instill in them – you are their first role model, after all. Leadership is about authenticity; children learn this best by being around people who demonstrate that. Make sure your words and actions are honest at all times. Do not let fear lead you into telling lies; if you cannot tell the truth, explain that the situation requires you to withhold some information. Your children may protest your stance but will respect you longer for being honest; they will also learn the value of honesty firsthand.
6. Instill Courage
Teach your children to overcome fear at a young age. Good leaders approach situations bravely and look at problems like challenges they must overcome. Start with some challenges your child faces daily, like the fear of sleeping alone. Encourage your child to sleep with the lights on and gradually switch them off. Such lessons teach him that he can overcome anything with time. Additionally, encourage your children to use the phrase “I can” more often. Their words and thoughts have power over situations they face in their young lives, and adopting such an attitude at a young age teaches them values that will help them later in their adult life.
7. Encourage Them to Help Others
Teach your children kindness at a young age by encouraging them to serve themselves and those around them. Encourage them to help others; ask them to assist you clear the table after dinner. As they grow, introduce them to volunteering and activities where they can help others. This will teach them to value those around them, to be respectful and grateful – all of which are values that make up good leaders.
8. Teach Responsibility
Avoid defending your children when they are in the wrong or fighting, especially amongst their peers. Children are mischievous beings and will often get into trouble. When your child comes to you for help, find the underlying cause of the problem and place blame where it is due. If your child is in the wrong, ask him to apologize and punish him accordingly. Good leaders do not lay blame on others; they take responsibility and look for ways to correct their mistakes. Teach your children this value at a young age and they will soon grow into role models.
9. Listen Carefully
Pay attention to your child’s words and teach him to listen to others. One of the most valuable traits in a leader is the ability to listen. By allowing your kids to voice their opinions, you teach them that what they say or think is important, boosting their confidence in the process. They will also learn to appreciate being listened to, and will reciprocate that with people they meet.
10. Teach Them to Strive for Excellence
Teach your children to excel in all their pursuits. As a parent, understand your child’s abilities and push her to her best. For example, if she is good at math but fails at history, encourage her to spend more time in history. Explain to her that while she may not get As, she should get the best grade possible based on her hard work. She will learn to pursue excellence at a young age and push others to excel.
Good leaders possess a myriad of qualities. Most importantly, they are in control of themselves and make decisions independently. Instill each of the above qualities in your children and mold them as independent and confident individuals from a young age. As their first and lifelong role model, inspire them by living an exemplary life. The values may not give your child power but they will instill in them self-confidence and courage to inspire others.