Volunteer together at The Salvation Army shelter and experience Miami homelessness. Coach your child in the candidacy speech for student council--framing any defeat as excellent public speaking experience. Encourage teamwork, talents and interests through basketball, ballet or piano competition.
Whether Miss Popular or the Different Drummer Boy, independent, shy or charismatic, all children can find their stride and lead in some area whether by formal responsibility or shining example. And parents can instill leadership skills for life as they encourage them to take simple responsibility and risks and explore interests as early as preschool.
Rise Up: Saturday Sacrifice
Look for volunteer opportunities together to build children's character, foster creativity and reach beyond themselves to serve the community and spark interest in local issues. In "15 Easy Ways to Develop Leadership Skills in Your Kids," Dr. Kerry Petsinger writes that '"spending time serving humanity together will build your relationship with your kids an expand both of your perspectives on the world."
Penn State Extension advises parents to look for leadership opportunities in line with interests whether starting a hurricane relief drive at school or leading a devotion in youth group. And early responsibility will help children to resist peer pressure as teens. "Leadership involves speaking up and taking actions. You can encourage children's leadership ability by supporting projects or identifying problems that may be important to them and helping them come up with suggestions for action and possible solutions."
Also promote reading and try educational expeditions to open minds and hearts: behold the heavens at Frost Science Museum or stroll Shark Valley in the Everglades and spot egrets while reading a related picture book.
Team Player to Lead Player
A Forbes article by Deep Patel discusses the connection between sports teamwork and leadership. "The goal isn't that they just find a sport, but rather that they have participated in an activity that gets them to use their bodies, learn a skill and function as a member of a team."
Developing natural strengths in turn builds confidence. Have your Lego master try engineering club. "Encourage children to pursue things that interest them. They develop a passion for it and feel comfortable and later on take a leadership role," says Penn State Extension.
Also guide communication skills by helping children identify their emotions, express what they mean clearly, and listen well. "Nurture their effort to communicate with others; being an effective leader requires the ability to build relationships, inspire others and communicate effectively," writes Petsinger.
Finding Their Voice
Affirm their self-worth with your unconditional love. "Confidence and capacity to believe in oneself are at the heart of effective leadership. Thus, children need to have confidence in their abilities and the courage to try out new things if they want to advance in their life," states an article in the Hindustan Times that quotes prominent business leaders. The article also notes that as children find their voice and express it through speaking and writing they will perceive public speaking as a natural part of life as adults.
One Step at a Time
Help your children manage the added stress of leadership responsibility. "Develop a strategy to address a problem or situation when overwhelmed. Show children how to break tasks into workable ways to get the job done," advises Penn State.
Also, guide children to think critically about challenges, which will boost self-esteem and inspire them to dream big. "When a child struggles, asking questions such as, ‘do you think there's another way you could do that?’ will help your child use creativity to solve problems, a very important skill for a successful life," says Petsinger. Likewise, turn failures into teachable moments and carry onward fostering resilience.
Lolly Daskal recommends in Inc. to expose your children to trailblazers making an impact. Set up goals and small projects they can be successful at. "They'll gain valuable self-esteem and confidence by mastering new skills as they get the job done."
Lead by Example
Teach --and model-- integrity, character and responsibility. "A child who can learn the foundation of trust, honesty, respect and integrity will be ready for a lifetime of successful leadership, partnerships and relationships," writes Daskal.
And be the parents you want them to see. "As a parent you're going to be the most important teacher your child will have...Get used to being the best you can be. It's guaranteed to have a lasting effect on your kids!" affirms Patel.