by Kathy DeFreece
Leadership isn’t just for adults, politicians or the rich and famous. Leaders can be any age. The earlier kids learn leadership skills and discover their own unique leadership strengths, the sooner they can begin making positive differences in the world around them.
Children whose leadership qualities, interests and talents have been fostered are more likely to feel empathy toward others; have improved critical thinking skills; develop problem-solving abilities; accept others’ differences; and exhibit more self-confidence.
As educators and parents, it is our responsibility to foster leadership qualities and develop leadership behaviors in our children. We should recognize, teach and reinforce the qualities commonly found in leaders. Some of those qualities include: communication, critical thinking, decision making, goal setting, discernment, patience, problem solving, risk-taking, teamwork, tolerance and diversity.
Make it happen.
All of this sounds great, but, as parents, how do we make it happen? Below are a few practical suggestions for teaching children leadership qualities.
- Help children see different viewpoints in a situation. This will be helpful when they are working in a cooperative group situation.
- Teach children to set goals and put forth their best effort in everything they do.
- Help children maintain a positive attitude and use flexible thinking even when things are out of their control.
- Teach children that mistakes will always happen. Teach them to ask themselves what they can learn from each situation.
- Enroll kids in extracurricular activities. This teaches them patience, tolerance, teamwork, cooperation, sharing of ideas and opinions, and conflict resolution. It gives them the self-confidence needed in order to lead people both as a kid and as an adult.
- Let your child make decisions. Start out small, such as letting them choose food in a grocery store. As they get older, they can start making more difficult decisions, like how to spend their money.
- Serve others! Go as a family to a homeless shelter, soup kitchen, plan a family workday or go on a mission trip. Show your child the importance of serving others.
It is our responsibility to help our kids discover their special abilities and cultivate their unique leadership qualities. Then they can be the leaders of tomorrow, serve others using their talents and bring much needed change to the world.
Kathy DeFreece coordinates the CMDS Student Leadership Team and directs the CMDS KUDZU program. She has a BA and an MA from the University of Memphis and joined the CMDS faculty in 2003. She is also the mother of three CMDS alums.
Christ Methodist Day School opened its doors in 1958 to 75 kindergarten students. Since then, CMDS has stayed true to its Christian elementary school roots while continuing to thrive as one of the best private schools in Memphis. Come see why we are the primary choice for so many Memphis families.