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How to Help Your Child Become a Leader

photo of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. standing with a group of men. courtesy of The National Archives and Records Administration. Colorized by Jordan J. Lloyd. U.S. Information Agency. Press and Publications Service. ca. 1953-ca. 1978.

Leaders aren’t born, they're made. Even great leaders like Malala, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Warren Buffet didn’t magically know the skills they would need to make a difference in the world. Through a combination of dedicated study, life experience, and a support network, they eventually developed their leadership skills to achieve the legendary status they hold today. 

Let’s use Dr. King as an example. According to the Louisiana State University Library, he received formal training in philosophy, sociology, and theology from Morehouse College, Crozer Theological Seminary, and Boston University. 

His life experience as a preacher developed his public speaking skills, while his background in sociology and philosophy likely developed his ability to build persuasive arguments and better understand his audience. It’s no accident that Dr. King was one of the most well-loved leaders of the Civil Rights movement. 

So, if your child lacks leadership skills now, they can still become a great leader of the future. As a parent, you can intentionally help your child become a leader by developing and practicing leadership skills. 

Encourage Empathy

Great leaders encourage the heart by recognizing and connecting with the emotions of others. You can help your child learn to notice and label emotions. The good news is, you don’t have to sit your child down with flash cards to encourage empathy. 

Instead, work on noticing and labeling emotions throughout the day – while you’re watching TV, listening to the radio, or even just talking around the dinner table. Here are two simple questions to ask your child to help with this task: “What do you think that person is feeling in that situation? How would you feel if you were in their place?”

Practice Communication

Great leaders communicate clearly. Too often parents practice the “seen and not heard” philosophy with their children. They expect children to just go along with whatever the parent suggests. 

Give your child opportunities to practice defending their position and asking for what they want. For example, if your child wants a friend to stay for a sleepover, don’t say no immediately. Ask them to persuade you. What are the pros and cons of the friend staying over? How will they ensure they get their homework and chores done? 

Don’t be afraid to gently point out holes in your child’s arguments if they don’t make sense. This method encourages critical thinking, clear communication, and allows them to practice creating a persuasive argument. 

Model the Way

Great leaders live the behaviors they want others to practice. Show your child how to lead by acting like a leader yourself. Just as you can’t tell your child no more screen time and then proceed to stare at your phone, you can’t ask your child to practice clear communication and empathy without practicing those traits yourself. 

Model the way by communicating clearly with your partner or spouse in front of your child. Avoid arguing, but model debate grounded in logic and facts. Show how to be empathetic by taking others’ emotions into account, including your child’s. 

We Can Help Your Child Become A Leader

At LeadYouth, we use methods based in positive psychology to turn today’s kids into tomorrow’s leaders. Our courses and mentoring sessions help children practice the emotional intelligence, communication, and self awareness they need to become great leaders. Give your child the tools they need to become a confident leader for life. Sign up for a LeadYouth Membership today.


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