How Can You Help Your Kids Learn to Become Leaders?
“There are two lasting bequests we can give our children. One is roots, the other is wings. – Hodding Carter, Jr.
Confidence is only a byproduct of healthy self-esteem. It may be true that some kids are born a little shy or some kids are born to be leaders, but that doesn’t mean parents can’t create a confident child who will have a healthy self-esteem, even if the child is naturally shy.
I strongly believe that the foundation upon which you build your child’s communication skills, motivation, and discipline is the root that feeds your child’s personality. How you build this foundation is the key to giving your child wings!
Healthy self-esteem has its roots in knowing who you are. Early in life, your children define themselves through your eyes first, before they form any independent self-image and beliefs. Initially, they get to know who they are by learning what you, the parents, think of them. As they grow, kids gradually become more independent from that thinking, but even as adults, they will always be impacted by their initial knowledge of “self” they got from their parents in the early stages of life.
In an earlier blog post I talked about “Creating Healthy Self-Esteem” in your kids, today I would like to talk about:
Building Self-esteem That Creates a Leader, Not a Bully
If you want to foster leadership in your kids, make sure they are skilled in:
- Coping with change (so they can manage stress)
- Asserting themselves (so they can communicate well)
- Having empathy (so they can relate to others well)
Qualities of a good leader…
- A good leader has integrity, is honest, and is loyal.
- A good leader connects with people.
- A good leader knows how to assert him/herself and communicate.
- A good leader also has a sense of humor and has creativity.
Some leaders are born, but more importantly, other leaders are made! Your children may already possess some leadership characteristics, but if they don’t know how to cope with stressful situations, or if they don’t know how to express empathy, they they’ll need your help in learning more.
Empathy can be taught. From a young age, you can help your kids label emotions and learn to understand others’ facial expressions. You can model for your kids and share life experiences with them to set an example. For example:
You may show your kids how to express empathy toward someone in need by donating your time to help that person or an organization that will help that person.
My three-pronged approach to teaching your kids about empathy is:
- Listen: Allow kids to talk about their feelings – and listen to them.
- Label: From a very young age, you can label body language clues and facial expressions for your kids. “Oh, look, that girl feels sad,” or “I see you feel scared,” or “Look at his eyes; he feels happy!”
- Model: Through practice, show how different behaviors influence the way others feel. For example, when your kids are younger, “I shared my turn with your brother, and now he feels happy.” Or, “I saw how that lady felt frustrated in the store, so I offered to help.”
Daily routines are full of wonderful teachable moments. Use others’ behaviors as an example: “In the book we just read, he didn’t think about how his sister would feel if he took her book without her permission. Now she feels upset. What would you have done differently?”
The cornerstone to creating a leader and not a bully, is to help them understand how to have empathy, and think of other people’s feelings.
As a parent strategist, Dr. Sherkat has many tools she can share with you to help strengthen your parenting skills.
She speaks to various groups…you can hire her for your next parenting workshop, conference or parenting event.