Concept of Child Leadership
As leadership becomes one of the most wanted strategic qualities across professions such as business and industry, technology, politics, medicine, and the arts’ around the world — the role of parents, teachers and mentors becomes critical in assisting with the development of leadership attributes, qualities and skills in their children right from an early start.
Children displaying natural leadership qualities, or parents wanting their child to be a leader — must play a part in providing adequate initiatives and encouragement for their children’s behavior to move in the right direction.
Taking the initiative, being able to communicate, having the courage, tenacity and patience to keep reaching your goals are some of the characteristics that make great leaders.
Leadership traits as identified in Children
Leadership qualities as stated above might appear lofty to hear or to find in young children, but if we try to look closely, and check what qualities they exhibit in daily life, you may find these very characteristics.
Does your child work or play comfortably in large groups of children? Do they take interest in setting the direction or course of play with other peers?
If you find few of the below mentioned qualities in your child, chances are that they possess a high leadership potential that can be nurtured further –
- The desire to be challenged.
- Ability to solve problems creatively.
- Ability to work effectively in groups.
- Ability to get along with peers across school and neighborhood.
- Facility of verbal expression.
- Ability to reason critically.
- Ability to motivate others, even in play.
Inculcating and Imbibing Leadership qualities in Children
It is rightly said that “Great leaders are made not born”!…These of course can be nurtured.
Inculcating the correct leadership traits and imbibing the same in children requires an exemplary approach by parents and teachers alike. Some of the main virtues and directives in leaders which can be developed at an early stage of life are:
Integrity is knowing and doing what is right, even when no one is watching. Sharing stories and setting an example by being a role model yourself is the best way to do it.
Share with children stories through folklores, e-books or story books, wherein the concept of integrity can be presented and promoted. You can also make up your own stories that encourage them to always tell the truth no matter what. Also it is important following on your own promises in daily life for when kids see this, it allows them to appreciate and respect you.
If you see any expressions of courage, or even the slightest hint of courage displayed by your child, notice it, and always praise it. Appreciation goes a long way in nurturing virtues or well being and self esteem in young minds. Again, role play and storytelling are good tools.
Independent and Creative thinking
Conversations and asking open ended questions are helpful in encouraging children to start thinking in an innovative manner and present better solutions. After you’ve received the obvious answer from your child, ask another question. Questions like “Why”, “What would have happened if…”, “How did you think or feel…” encourage them to think creatively.
Discipline is helping children develop self-control. In this world of instant self-gratification, it is the ability of wait, to think before acting and to understand potential consequences of their actions. Spending time with family and making a concentrated effort to slow down is the first step towards approaching discipline. Setting and maintaining consistent limits is another. As children grow up, they integrate these limits into their own self discipline.
For older kids, your job as a parent is also to be there at a consultant level. That means you share your thoughts but don’t rescue or take on a child’s problem as your own. The strategy is to give kids the opportunity to make choices, and share a sound reasoning when the consequences are small; (eg: talking out to a friend if they’ve had a fight), and then let children deal with the consequences of their decisions. Ultimately, this helps a child develop self-discipline.
Self Belief and Confidence
Inculcating virtues which lead to a higher confidence quotient and development of self belief, help children use their abilities and ideas to a greater degree. If, for example your child wants to own a Bugatti Veyron, or wants to reach another solar system, do not laugh him off as if it is something unrealistic or beyond him. Encourage them in every step, and do not scoff at their goals.
Encouragement, sincere praise, discussions on the strengths of your child, and positive appreciation of capabilities helps in developing a more confident attitude which says, “I can do it!!”
Leadership must start with taking ownership, even if you’re caught in the wrong. It also means knowing when you made a mistake, and admitting to your mistakes. The same can be encouraged in a child. Though it’s never easy, teach your child the importance of realizing when he is wrong, and admitting it. For instance if your child blames someone else, or is unable to admit a wrongdoing or makes excuses; you have an opportunity to let your child know that it’s ok to make mistakes and encourage them to assume responsibility.
Given a large task to do, a child can get easily overwhelmed. However by showing a child how to break it into small chunks, and planning each out, you can build their self-confidence and abilities to take up complex tasks.
All these little things go a long way in bringing out a true ‘leader’ in your child.