As parents, we want the most for our children. With more and more skilled jobs becoming automated, it is more important than ever that our children have strong leadership skills in order to succeed in the workplace. Today I am sharing some great ways to help children develop leadership skills.
How to Help Children Develop Leadership Skills
Our kids need leadership skills. We need a new generation of leaders to continue the innovation, problem-solving and social good that we are seeing today. 4-H (the sponsor of this post) has just launched a wonderful Grow True Leaders campaign. They are compiling some incredible ways that our children can develop leadership skills, including by taking a gap year to build leadership skills before heading off to college. Whether your children are young like mine or old enough to be making that decision about whether or not to take a gap year (more on that later), here are some great ways to teach leadership skills today.
Do you know some kids who are great leaders? Take a moment to join the 4-H ThunderClap to share one unified message about how great kids are today.
Teach Kids to Work Hard
Leaders work hard, and they are not afraid of hard work. Give kids opportunities – from chores at home to school work to community service – to reach out and work to help others. Children respond opportunities that make them feel both needed and appreciated.
Teach Kids to Take Risks
Leaders are willing to take risks. They understand that risks are a necessary component of progress. Teach your children to take risks by taking risks yourself, and embracing personal challenges.
Teach Kids to Fail
It’s inevitable that you will sometimes fail when you take risks. Teach your children that it is okay to fail. Failing is part of life. Teach your kids to acknowledge their failures, and to see them as opportunities for learning and growth. You can do this by showing empathy when they are sad about failing. Listen to your children as they talk about difficult failures. Over time, with an empathetic listening parent, children talk their way to the silver lining of the experience. Sharing personal stories about your own failures shows kids that everyone makes mistakes. Personal stories provide evidence that failure is an opportunity for improvement.
Teach Kids to Speak Up
Leaders have the courage to speak up when they see something happening that needs to be changed or fixed. As someone who hates confrontation, this is a skill I have personally had to work hard to develop. It’s okay if you have to work hard on leadership skills yourself. Just be open with your kids about your own shortcomings, and make sure they know that you know it is something you need to improve on. Remember, leaders take risks.
Teach Kids to Help Others
A leader knows that they are only as successful as those around them. Help your children find ways to help others and give back to their communities. Teach by example, get them involved, and choose accessible projects. This spring I worked with my children to create some simple craft kits to donate to our local children’s hospital. The kids LOVED this project!
How did others help you develop leadership skills growing up? Is there a particular experience that stands out?
Consider a Gap Year
When I was in college, I applied for a prestigious national scholarship to fund my graduate degree. My application was strong enough that my university put me forward as one of their nominated candidates, but I didn’t get the scholarship. Nobody from my alma mater received one of those scholarships that year. I remember reading, a year or so later, about a candidate from my school who had successfully obtained this highly prized scholarship. One way in which this person really stood out was that they had taken a year out between high school and college. During this gap year, they had focused on a single service project – gaining all sorts of insight and leadership experience along the way. If your child is old enough, I think a gap with an organization like 4-H is well worth considering!
There are some amazing kids growing up right now! And we need them! Join the 4H ThunderClap to share a unified message about how great kids are today.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of 4-H. The opinions and text are all mine.