Is your child a leader or a follower?
Do you worry that they will cave in to peer pressure? not be able to handle failure?
Are you frustrated by their reliance on others to make decisions and solve problems?
As parents and educators we all hope for a successful and creative lifestyle for our children. Sometimes we wish for such a trouble free future that we unwittingly fail to help them develop the necessary traits for leadership. Here are a three ways to help your child learn to be a leader and develop a leader’s mindset.
1. Develop Resilience
One of the most important qualities for kids to develop is the ability to endure hardship and failure. Don’t we all have hardship in our lives no matter how we try to avoid it? How do children learn to be resilient? Unfortunately not by reading about it or watching movies.
They learn to endure by doing just that… enduring the mistakes, failures and disappointments that occur in their lives. Pain and failure are a part of everyone’s life. Shielding kids from disappointing situations through manipulating the environment or refocusing their attention with rewards or busyness, is actually doing them a disservice.
How can you help your kids be more resilient? Teach them to recognize and express emotions rather than discounting them. Let them know that all feelings are okay. Teach them constructive ways to understand and then move beyond negative emotions. When children feel understood, negative emotions feel less overwhelming and they can focus on positive outcomes.
2. Develop Problem solving skills
Teaching children to tackle everyday problems is an empowering and vital skill. Learning to ask questions and think critically is a key component. Instead of giving them the answer to difficult dilemmas and interpersonal problems, help them learn how to ask themselves leading questions to solve the problem before they bring the problem to you.
When we provide a quick fix to everyday problems, we teach dependence instead of independence. Ask them first, “what have you already tried to solve the problem?” Then encourage them to think of two more possible ways they could address it. Learning to solve problems is not only a skill that will serve them later in life, it also builds confidence in their ability to cope with what ever life throws their way.
3. Develop Personal Goals
Leaders lead by setting goals not by living haphazardly. Goals are powerful and keep us moving forward toward things we really want in life. You can teach kids to set goals by sharing your own. Discuss how you came up with them and the action plan that you set in motion.
Then help them to create their own goals. Work with them to create baby steps for achieving them. Stephen Covey teaches that successful leaders begin with the end in mind and setting goals is one way to do this.
No only does setting goals help kids plan but it also teaches them confidence when they achieve their goals. This proves to be a much more effective way to instill self-confidence and self esteem than flooding them with “good job!” compliments in a random manner. Finally, accomplishing goals teaches children that they have control of their future.
Teach a growth mindset to cope with failure
Wyatt the Wonder Dog didn’t make it on the All Star baseball team and he feels like a loser. All his friends will be playing baseball this summer, while he and his pesky sister, Callie, visit grandparents at the beach. How Wyatt learns to handle disappointment and failure will be an important lesson for the future. Will he give up trying new things? Will he have the confidence to try again? Are there some things that take more practice and persistence to learn than others?