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Raising Tomorrow's Leaders: 6 Skills to Teach Your Children

Sun, 03/23/2014 - 12:31pm | by Katharine Swan

Everyone dreams of their kids becoming the great leaders of the future. Whether that is President of the United States or CEO of a corporation, seeing your child grow up to become important and successful in their career is something every parent wants.

Raising tomorrow's leaders means instilling certain skills in your children. Here are the skills every future leader needs, and how you as a parent can help them achieve them.

  1. Self-confidence - This is one of the most important skills for a future leader, but it can't be taught.  Kids learn self-confidence not just through praise, but also by having opportunities to learn things and do a good job.  Enrolling your kids in extracurricular activities, such as team sports, individual sports, and other activities such as Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, is an excellent way to instill them with the self-confidence they will need in order to lead people and/or organizations as adults.
  2. Decision making - Good leaders have to be able to make good decisions.  Giving your child the opportunity to make decisions for themselves is therefore very important.  This doesn't mean that you saddle them with responsibilities that aren't age-appropriate.  Start out with small decisions, like letting your child choose their clothing when they are young, and give them more and bigger decisions to make as they begin to understand the concepts of responsibility and consequences.  Modeling good decision-making skills in your everyday life is also important, but don't forget to talk to your children about why you make the choices you do, and how consequences shape the decisions we make.
  3. Problem solving - Problem solving is another important skill for good leaders to have.  School creates many opportunities for kids to learn about problem solving, and many extracurricular activities, such as Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, chess, etc., can help to teach your child these important skills.  This is also another area where you can model the skills you want your children to have as adults.
  4. Teamwork - Although we envision leaders as being above their peers, they also need to be able to work well with others.  Many schools try to encourage this skill by assigning group projects and teaching team sports in physical education classes.  You can help by signing your child up for extracurricular team sports and other group activities.  Even small things, such as coaching siblings on how to work out problems instead of simply playing referee when they fight, can help hone the ability to work with others.
  5. Money - Being able to manage money, on a personal level as well as on a business or corporate level, is important if you want your child to be a leader someday.  High-powered leadership positions almost always have some sort of financial or budgeting aspect to the job.  The best way to teach your kid this skill is to give them an allowance and a bank account at a young age, and to help them make decisions on how to spend and save, so that they learn the value of money.
  6. Passion and motivation - Passion and motivation aren't really skills, but they are important for future leaders nonetheless.  Encouraging these traits in your child can be accomplished by helping them to pursue and develop their interests when they are young, so that they learn what it feels like to do something because they want to, not because they have to.  A supportive learning environment can go a long ways in shaping the future generation of leaders.

Raising kids isn't an exact science, as every parent knows.  It's not like cooking -- you can't just add a little of this, a little of that, and hey presto! You have a future leader.  You can, however, try to encourage certain traits, skills, and values.  Following these tips may not be an exact formula for your child's success, but it will give your child a fighting chance to be everything you know in your heart they can be.

Katharine Swan has been writing professionally for more than 6 years now, and frequently specializes in topics such as parenting and child development.

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