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Your child may barely be school-age, but it’s never too soon to start instilling the traits of leadership. Leadership skills not only help children succeed in adulthood, they also give children the tools they need to become confident, capable youths. Whether you want to raise a future Supreme Court Justice or simply want your child to have the confidence to carve her path, here’s how you can raise a strong leader from an early age.

Model the Traits of a Good Leader

Leadership is about more than being the boss. True leaders don’t just tell others what to do; they motivate, inspire, and lead by example. As a parent, the best way to instill leadership traits in your child is to model them yourself. These are the necessary leadership skills every child should learn and how to model them in your own family.

  • Everyone gets scared sometimes, but leaders have the courage to step up to challenges despite fear. Model courage by admitting when you’re nervous about doing something for the first time and doing it anyway.
  • Good leaders are also mindful of how they treat others. Parents who are good listeners, compassionate, and able to admit when they’re wrong are more likely to raise kids who display the same openness.
  • Living according to your values is one of the most important tenets of leadership. Parents can teach integrity by talking about how their family’s values influence the decisions they make day-to-day.

Practice Confident Communication

It’s not enough to have the traits of a good leader — to truly lead, your child needs to be able to communicate those skills too. Learning how to communicate confidently can be tough for kids, but parents can use these strategies to teach kids to use their voices.

  • Kids who know where they stand on an issue are less likely to be silenced or swayed by peer pressure. Act out scenarios your child may face so they’re prepared to speak up in real life.
  • Practice “I” statements. “I” statements help young leaders communicate their thoughts with assertiveness, not bossiness.
  • Challenge your child’s views by asking exploratory questions. When children learn how to explain their stance, they’re less likely to respond defensively to feedback.

Foster a Good Work Ethic

Leaders must be persistent in the face of challenges. If every leader gave up when things got hard, little progress would ever be made! Parents can instill a strong work ethic long before kids have homework assignments or part-time jobs to contend with. With these tips, you can raise industrious kids from an early age.

  • Encourage a can-do attitude by emphasizing the importance of practice and perseverance over natural ability.
  • Let kids make their own mistakes. If parents always swoop in to save the day, children don’t learn the self-reliance and problem-solving skills they need.
  • While kids need to try and try again, they don’t have to learn everything the hard way. Proper instruction and age-appropriate expectations set children up for success.

Get Involved in Youth Organizations

It’s not enough to practice leadership at home. Your child also needs opportunities to put their new skills to work!

Youth organizations are a wonderful place for children of all ages to hone their leadership skills. Whether it’s Little League, Scouts, or 4-H, here are three things kids can gain by joining a youth organization.

  • Youth organizations promote positive character traits like drive, resilience, and sportsmanship that are just as important for leaders as they are on the soccer field.
  • Joining a club or team also teaches children how to navigate diverse personalities, an important social skill for any leader.
  • Youth organizations also teach children practical skills like time management and organization that make them more effective at whatever they set their minds to.

Leadership skills are important for every child, whether they’re destined for greatness or just the kid next door. That’s because leadership is about more than being in charge. When you raise a child to be a leader, you’re raising a person who has the courage to stand up for what they believe in, the confidence to speak their mind, and the compassion to do it with kindness.

Jenna Sherman