Every day we lay down certain convictions and worldview for our children by the way we behave. Unfortunately, not too many parents are so aware that they can use the long-term perspective in their ideas of upbringing. Mostly, adults limit themselves to “operational management” and solution of day-to-day problems: help to do homework, attend a PTA meeting, dress, feed, entertain. Short-lived surges of “good pedagogical intentions” quickly die out when meeting everyday routine.
At the same time, any mom dreams of seeing her child as a successful, popular person who has found their place in life, who is good with people, who loves what they do and is variously happy. This is quite a realistic dream, but only if you make the effort to achieve it.
The abundance of information on the subject of raising children is quite disorienting to parents and many of them feel lost and don’t know where to start. So, they don’t start. What is the best way to invest your time, what should you pay special attention to, so that the picture of the beautiful future does not stay an empty parental fantasy? I would recommend nurturing the child’s leadership skills first and foremost. They are the most important ones for achieving success in life.
Many people still think that real leadership is something you are born with. Actually, these genetic abilities are not all that important. The environment and sensible involvement of grown-ups in the process of personality formation are much more important. Leadership is a certain way of thinking and acting that any parent can teach their child, however far away from being a leader they may be themselves.
The foundation of leadership consists of proper self-valuation, self-reliance, ability to manage emotions, ability to evaluate your actions from the long-term point of view, feelings of safety and independence, and high resistance to stress. You can and should nurture all these qualities. It only makes sense to layer the traditional leadership skills, such as elocution, negotiations and people management, once you have this solid basis.
Ideally, it would be great to organize your family along the model of upbringing and relationships where the child can regularly grow and improve the required traits and ways of thinking. It is not as difficult as it may seem. Let’s consider the key elements of such a model.
First of all you need to give your child the feeling of safety and understanding that you are on their side whatever happens. You should not betray your child by agreeing with someone else’s evaluations, criticism or disapproval. For example, if at a PTA meeting a teacher tells you how horrible your son is, it does not mean that she is right. Most likely, he is inconvenient to her personally. There is nothing terrible about it – successful people are always inconvenient. In adult life they are inconvenient by claiming the best spot, the biggest amount of resources or the best terms, while convenient people never achieve anything. So parents should forget the idea that their child must be obedient and approved by everyone to begin with.
At the same time as you create the feeling of safety, you need to create the child’s appropriate self-evaluation. Appropriate means the one that reflects the real picture at a particular time. Popular psychologists simplify and divide self-esteem into low and high. This is a wrong approach that leads to a dead-end. Actually, you can only evaluate by certain specific parameters. You cannot evaluate a person as a whole; you will only come up with a subjective label instead of the truth. You should teach the child to evaluate separately their appearance, their personal qualities, the level of specific knowledge and skills. It is good to use a 10-score scale for this. Then a girl, for example, can stop thinking of herself as “ugly”, because her ears stick out. Yes, so she has 2 out of 10 on ears, but her hair scores 10, her eyebrows and eyelashes are also 10, her nails are 8 and so on. In other words, not all of her is “ugly”, but only 2-3 parameters out of 30-50. The best thing about this evaluation system is that you can change all the parameters with low scores! You can make a plan and reach the scores you want, even if it doesn’t happen right away. For example, you can cover the ears with a good haircut, “beautify” the nails with manicure, and improve the skin with good nutrition and laser treatment. In other words, she will have no need of the many years of self-training of the “I’m the most charming and beautiful” sort. You can take specific actions and quickly achieve results and predictably improve self-esteem.
In addition to appropriate self-esteem, a future leader needs self-reliance and independence. That’s simple enough: stop doing for the child what they can do for themselves. The smallest thing here makes a difference, so stop feeling sorry for the “poor little thing” and stop trying to be their servant. The parents’ job is not to run around all their life with a cushion trying to soften real and imaginary blows. On the contrary, responsible parents are the first coaches who can prepare the child for a self-reliant grown-up life. How confident the child feels without someone’s help and support largely depends on the parents’ behavior and attitude. Real confidence is easily read by people and triggers correspondent treatment.
Another important skill that must be instilled is the ability to manage emotions and live through them properly. When we suppress our emotions they are stored in the body as tension that is not realized, as bodily blocks. Part of our strength that could be used for achievements is constantly spent on maintaining these blocks. In fact, we daily waste our energy on old grudges, on the habitual feeling of guilt, on impotent aggression that we habitually suppress. This is a typical situation for grown-ups and we immerse our children in this typical situation too. The solution here is to improve your emotional awareness and teach your children the same thing. This skill is needed not only to improve your leadership position, but to preserve your health as well. I teach how to work with suppressed emotions properly, how to take them out of your body and restore your strength in the How to Make Your Child a Leader class.
The next important trait is empathy – the ability to feel with others. A person who does not understand or feel the state of other people cannot lead anyone. To nurture empathy you need to regularly suggest evaluating a situation not only from your own point of view, but from the point of view of others in it. You can do it with situations in real life, but also with situations in cartoons or movies you watch together. The habit of putting yourself in another person’s shoes and seeing the situation as a whole from the outside is a global management trait that will come in handy time and again in adult life.
It is very important to build up the child’s resistance to stress. A real leader in a complicated situation does not become emotional and does precisely what will help to solve the problem. However, this skill takes a while to build up. First, you have to teach the child using real-life examples about the right role models, so that when a problem arises, they already have the right behavior template. You can go through various critical situations with the child in advance and work through behavioral reactions to them in role play. It will really help you in the future when foolish cronies try to persuade the teenager to smoke, drink, or do something illegal. In addition, such skills are very helpful in dealing with toxic adults. If, on the one hand, the child knows that the parents are solidly behind them, and, on the other, has effective means of reacting to difficult situations – their confidence grows manifold.
In addition to all of the above, you need to teach the child to get used to evaluating the consequences of their actions from the long-term point of view and to not being afraid of criticism or of making mistakes. You need to teach them to accept a difficult situation as a challenge, not a problem; to minimize the fuss and choose only those actions that lead to their goal.
All these traits will become a reliable solid foundation for leadership and ability to manage people.
The surest and quickest way to win the interest and respect of teenagers is to stand out by some unusual knowledge or skill. The objective of parents is to nurture the child’s leadership traits and to ensure their superiority over their peers intellectually and by their skills. You have to teach your child (teach them well, mind) some cool skill or a popular sport that will set them apart from other children. You should also interest them in a subject that is not taught in school, something like economics, or marine biology, or application development. Only once it is done, does it make sense to start mastering the technical skills of leadership, such as elocution, ability to negotiate, team management, delegation, manipulation, etc.
If you are seriously interested in leadership and you plan on giving your child a powerful boost to a successful future, I recommend that you study my How to Make Your Child a Leader class. That is where you will find all the detailed instructions, recommendations and exercises that will help you quickly achieve significant results.