Let me start out by saying that not everyone is meant be a leader- I want my kids to have the best of both worlds. I want them to be confident leaders, but to be cooperative followers, as well. I want them to take the initiative to stand up for what they believe in, but the sense to stop and listen to others, too.
So, today I am going to share 11 tips to raise your child to be a leader (today will be tips 1-5 and tomorrow will be tips 6-11).
1). Let your child make choices.
Give your child choices, not hard ones, just choices that they can make on a daily basis. “Which of these TWO outfits do you want to wear tomorrow?” “Which cereal do you want to eat?” “Do you want milk or water with your dinner?”
2). Let them take chances.
I learned this while reading my favorite parenting book, Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood: Practical Parenting From Birth to Six Years. If you are always there to stop your child from making a mistake, they will rely on you forever. Let them take chances. Let them see that falling on the ground wasn’t so awful. I know, from experience, that when I guard our kids too much, I create an unnecessary fear in them. (ex: By me saying “Watch out! A bee!”, it had led to our oldest child being terrified of bees for years. It has calmed down now that I have calmed down… but take it from me… they feed off of your fear!)
3). Don’t over compliment.
Yes, it is GREAT to be proud of your kids, but give them the chance to really show you their greatness. If we are always telling them how great they do, for every tiny thing, our word will start to become something that they NEED and it will also lose part of its value. Lets not teach them to rely on others for positive reinforcement. Let them do a job themselves and they will see how great it feels to be proud of themselves! Our son passed a swim test that took him many tries to pass and when he finally passed it, he turned to me and said “Mom, I am so proud of myself!” – that is the best feeling of all!
4). Don’t swoop in to save them!
This is hard, I know. I have done it and I’m sure that I will continue to do it, at times. It is hard to sit by and not “fix” something for your child that you can easily fix. When our son’s classmate wouldn’t let our son play with his football… what did I do? I bought him his own football to take to school. What did this teach him? Just go to Mom & Dad and they will buy my way out of a sticky situation.
What should I have done? Asked him to TALK to that child.
When we finally did talk to that child (because my easy fix didn’t fix anything), I learned that this little boy didn’t want our son to play with the football because our son was getting the touchdowns and that left this little boy behind. He felt sad that he wasn’t the one getting the touchdowns. While he put on a show that he was a “bully” he was really just an insecure child. I felt awful that we didn’t just do that FIRST. Instead, we thought that he was being mean and so my husband and I “swooped” in to save our son.
Lesson Learned: If we save them now, we will save them forever. (Imagine one day the football is mortgage and that kid is the bank:
“Mom, I can’t pay my mortgage…”
“Oh!! Ok- here you go, buddy.”
I don’t want this to be my future! I want to raise responsible adults!
5). Have a “Go get ’em tiger” attitude with your kids. If they want to try something, tell them to go for it! If they are thinking something might be too hard… ask them “Why not just give it a shot? Whats the worst that can happen?” I try to be laid back with a lot of things and I hope that our kids see that. I let them have their say in what they wear (from what I have bought them in their closets- that limits their choice to what I have approved of already). I don’t let them try dangerous things, but I do encourage them to try things that they might be reluctant to try.
I encourage them to just GIVE IT A SHOT!