Family and parenting: how can your child learn leadership skills?

You can help your child learn better leadership skills by teaching her positive traits such as good behavior and communication, critical thinking skills, empathy for others, and good planning techniques.

Some people believe that good leaders were born that way. While there isn't any specific scientific data to prove this without a shadow of doubt, there are often several common factors that continue to be found among influential leaders. Maybe some of these leaders actually inherited positive traits, but many of today's leaders had positive influences in their lives, and these influences helped them develop good leadership skills. While you may not be able to turn your child into the next governor or president, there are some things you can do to encourage your child to become a better leader.

When your child is just a toddler, you should begin to encourage and reinforce good behavior. Be sure that you compliment your child whenever he does anything positive, and don't forget to point out to him what he has done that has earned your praise. If you begin to do this when your child is young, you can continue to emphasize how important good behavior is as he continues to grow.

Sharing is another important trait that you can begin teaching your child when he is very young. As he learns to share, he will also be developing patience, and both of these traits are extremely important for good leadership skills. Even very young children can learn how to cooperate in groups with other children, and these cooperative skills will serve your child in many areas of his life as he continues to grow. You can help foster cooperation and sharing in your child by providing him with various group activities, such as play dates, parties, pre-school environments, Sunday school classes, and neighborhood playtime.

Once your child becomes school-aged, she should be developing critical thinking skills. You can help her become a more adept critical thinker by posing questions to her about her daily activities. These questions shouldn't be one-word answers, but instead, they should encourage your child to think about the question and all the possible answers it might have. In doing this, you will be helping your child to consider various solutions to potential dilemmas, and she will become a much better problem solver as she matures, a necessary attribute for good leaders.

As you talk to your child on a daily basis, you are teaching him how to be a better communicator. If he has trouble putting his thoughts into words, you can help him practice his communication skills by offering him different opportunities to communicate with different people. If he has a question of a store clerk, a teacher, a grandparent, or a neighbor, encourage him to ask that question himself, instead of always depending on you. Not only are you teaching him how to communicate, but you are also teaching him to show respect to others, which is another important character trait of a good leader.

As your child develops better communication skills and learns to foster respect for others, she should also learn to compromise. Good leaders don't always have to have things their way, and your child should learn this at a young age. You can encourage your child to look at others' points of view. Teach your child to place herself in the shoes of others to develop empathy and understanding.

Good leaders are educated people, and reading is the key to a successful education. You should encourage your child to read prolifically and often. You can encourage him to read by setting an example. Let your child see you read different types of materials, including books, magazines, and newspapers. If you see an article that you think might be interesting to your child, let him read it with or to you. Ask him questions about his opinion of the article.

Finally, help your child become a good planner, and encourage her to take pride in her accomplishments. As your child becomes a more confident person, she may even seek more opportunities to take charge of various situations, thus developing better leadership skills.

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