Today’s children are tomorrow’s leaders.
This may be hard to accept, especially if you don’t think your child is anywhere near ready to lead anything — or anyone. However, the truth is, every child has it in them to be a leader in some way, you just have to foster their growth, independence and resilience. Here’s how:
Be the change you want them to see. You can’t expect your child to become a leader if you’re not walking the walk. It’s important to be a good role model and show your child that you are just as accountable for your actions as they are. This can be a tough pill to swallow, but this means you need to admit when you make mistakes. Apologize when necessary. This also means being consistent with how you balance work and personal life and why it’s important to do so.
Volunteer together. Pick a cause together that’s close to your heart and show your child that they can make a difference. They will see first-hand the needs in their community and together you can talk about the impact volunteering and contributing can have on those around you.
Encourage them to blaze their own trails. While your child may have your nose or your jawline, they aren’t you. They may have different goals and interests separate from yours and you should encourage them to follow-through on what they like to do. Perhaps they want to try something new? Join a new club? Take lessons? Get them to create a vision board of what their personal goals are. It’s a fun activity that you can do together that will get both of you excited about their future.
Enrol them in summer camp. Summer camp is more than a fun experience. It can offer an opportunity to not only participate in team-building experiences but take charge of them. Participation in team activities teaches kids about teamwork and helps them learn to cooperate with others, support teammates, aim toward a common goal, control their emotions, communicate effectively and do their share of work when others are relying on them. Muskoka Woods offers a variety of activities, including ball hockey and an ariel trust dive, sure to foster leadership skills.
Let them work. Whether they want to start a lemonade stand or offer babysitting services to the neighbourhood, let them do it on their own. They will need to market their services, which can include making posters for their stand or printing out letters and dropping them off in mailboxes, introducing themselves and their babysitting qualifications. Also, let them figure out how much money they need to start their stand for items like the product itself, cups, ice, table, etc., and how much money they will need to charge for their lemonade to make the venture profitable. These early years jobs can really give your kids a leg up on achieving leadership skills.
Rachel is the publisher of inBetween magazine geared towards parents of teens and young adults. Mom to her 12-year-old son, her more than 20 years of experience in journalism have been spent researching and writing about issues closest to families. Rachel, a native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, she now lives with her husband and their son in Toronto.