We all want the same thing for our children as they grow older. We want the best for them. The last thing I want from the youth around me is to deflate their self-esteem, destroy their confidence, and stomp on their dreams. So I actively use many different techniques and exercises consciously to ensure that I build those important intrinsic values in our youth when I am in the classroom, coaching in the gym, and raising my daughter.
The responsibility is on us when you send your children to educators and coaches in the community to build up their core values so that they can become independent and confident leaders in our community. This is why I made this list of 7 practices, tips, and techniques that you can use to actively build leadership qualities in the children in your life too.
Teach to give
Sharing seems to be one of the hardest parts for young children to figure out. Luckily there are very basic ways to instill these values! A very important teaching technique to children is to praise them when they do things well, rather than scold them for doing things wrong. When your child shows you that they share well, make sure they know what a great job they did. It is also important to praise other children when they share with others too. Other things you can do is using games that preach that sharing is important, setting up playdates with friends that are prefaced with sharing such as telling your kids to get their toys or games that you want to share with your friends. Sharing is caring!
Talk to children like they are adults
Have you ever been in a group conversation and when the other people in the group are sharing a story and talking about you like you’re not there? You probably haven’t, it’s a bit odd. That is a common way parents talk about their children when there are other adults around. It is important to make the children around feel important by showing them that they are part of the conversation. Rather than saying, “Sarah does this or that,” you can say instead, “Sarah, tell them about the time you did this or that.” This also means when you are directly talking to your child that you can treat them respect by asking them politely to do things, respecting their opinion, and working together to resolve issues.
Hang out with other leaders
This is great for children to see that leaders around them like teachers, community figures, and other parents are people too. I like to make it very clear to my students that I do not live and sleep at the school since they don’t often think about who their teachers are outside the classroom. It is important to expose them to these types of people when they are out of their leadership roles in the community to take the pressure off their assumptions of who these people might be in their imagination.
Set a good example
This one is a no brainer, right? It is so simple that it is so easily forgotten. If you are a role model to any children you have to remember that they are absorbing and emulating everything you do. If you start acting like a leader in front of your children more often, then they will sponge it up and try to be a leader too!
Find a mentor
Finding someone outside the household that exhibits great core values to your children is monumental. Do you remember that one teacher from when you were in school that made a difference in your life? We all have one that we will remember forever. That role model in your child’s life is just as important. If it’s a teacher, a coach (hello!), or someone in the community; they can take your child’s confidence to the next level when they have a role model from someone from outside their inner circle.
Teach how to use empathy to see from another point of view
“How would you feel if the shoe was on the other foot? Walk a day in my shoes to see what it’s like. Try to fill these shoes!” So many cliches about shoes and what it might be like for someone else to wear them. Cliches are cliches for a reason! The sooner that a child understands that ‘you can’t judge other’s behaviour since they have a whole history and responsibilities that you can’t understand without being there,’ the better. Teaching children to be an active listener and respectfully answer back in a calm manner is vital to being able to see and understand another's point of views.
Communication is key. There is no problem that is unsolvable if you have active and honest communication. This goes for all of us! We are not born with communication skills, but we can benefit from learning how to listen, speak vulnerably, get to the root of problems, exercise positive conversations, and respect others always.
Although it is our responsibility as adults to teach children about everything we know, you see how important it is that we exhibit our knowledge in a positive manner. Building their confidence is key, and giving them confidence to communicate and understand anybody is an important step in becoming a leader in our community. I try to do this as much as possible with the kids that trust us as coaches and role models, and at the end of the day there are always consequences for our actions, so living up to that is important too.
Thanks for reading, if you have any feedback or experiences with this blog post, please don’t hesitate to let us know! We are always trying to be the best we can so we would love to hear from you!