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Leading your Children to Become Leaders

By: Sharon Furman-Lee

What would you like to do when you grow up? This is a question that many of us heard more than once throughout life. As parents, we want to see our children grow up to be happy and successful. We want them to do well at school, achieve high grades and go to a good university. We are raised to believe that high education is the key to live full and potential life. I am thinking though about the word “success.” What is success? What is success in our child’s life?

Parents respond to these questions in various ways: “I want my children to make a lot of money,” “be healthy,” “be happy,” and “have a good and secure job.” We often hear about people who have a lot of money, but they are miserable and alone. We hear about celebrities who make millions of dollars but are depressed, and they feel lonely.

In his book Together is Better, Simon Sinek says, “Most of us live our lives by accident—we live as it happens. Fulfillment comes when we live our lives on purpose” (p. 6). This is the answer to what we parents need to do with our children – we need to help them find their purpose. Those who live for a purpose are the happiest, healthiest, wealthiest people can be. Those are the people who become successful leaders. Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Albert Einstein, are only a few examples of leaders with a whole philosophy that focuses on what they truly believed in and worked towards through their lives.

Children need to find their inner selves. We want to provide opportunities for children to discover their passions and natural curiosities. “Leadership is education. And the best leaders think of themselves as the students, not the teachers” (Simon Sinek, 2016, p. 89). We learn all the time from everyone, everywhere, and everything. If you ever find yourself saying “Because I said so” or “Because I know better”, you need to think again about the message that your child gets from you. Do you want your child to ask questions, explore and innovate? If your answer is yes, encourage your children to ask questions and promote communication and exploration even if you need to be more patient and explain your decisions. Give them the freedom to succeed as well as fail so they can learn how to be resilient and avoid it in the future. By saying “because I said so,” you block communication and tell your child that asking questions gets you angry.

Howard Earl Gardner, an American developmental physiologist, developed a theory that focuses on different types of intelligences. His main idea is that children come into this world with natural capabilities (genes) and other intelligences that they can develop through practice. Some children are better at math when others are more artistic or physical. As parents, it is our job to help our children find their strength and empower them to develop it further rather than live up to our expectations or a path that we want them to go on.

Some key ideas to identify in our children:

  1. If your child likes physical activities, dance, soccer, gymnastics, running, and more, this means that their Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence is dominant. People with this kind of intelligence can become great surgeons, athletes, dancers, and musicians. Allow them to try new things that involve body control and keep them challenged by exploring new areas as they grow.

  2. If your children like music, encourage them to explore various instruments and reading notes. People who like music have a great sense of patterns and rhythms. Their Musical intelligence is developed so they can become composers, musicians, conductors, and more. Expose them to different music genres by listening to them on the radio, Pandora, and more. You can also introduce them to different cultures by listening to music folklore around the world.

  3. If your children know how to express themselves with words using different vocabulary above the level of other children their age, their Linguistic intelligence is very developed. These people usually become great lawyers, politicians, and writers. Would you please encourage them to write a blog about something they like or write a journal of some kind? Sign them up for debate groups and expose them to topics of their interest to become supporters and influencers of some sort.

  4. If your children think logically, analyze situations well, as well as good at math and follow instructions correctly then they have a heightened Logical-Mathematical intelligence. They can become great doctors, mathematicians, computer programmers, and anything related to investigating, analyzing, and finding logical solutions. Work with them on solving mystery cases in video games, movies, and books. Rational thinking is a large part of this intelligence. Children can develop it through drawing, playing an instrument, socializing with others, asking questions, and learning new things regularly.

  5. If your children are good with puzzles, chess, Rubik’s cube, and directions, they are probably more talented in seeing what others cannot see. It is essential to encourage these children to continue developing their right brain to strengthen their memory and creativity. People with Spatial Intelligence are more likely to become great architects, designers, pilots, and surgeons.

  6. If your children are sensitive to others, want to please, and respond well to behavior keys, they are Interpersonally intelligent. People with high interpersonal skills are more likely to become managers, administrators, educators, psychologists, and any career that deals with humanity.

  7. If your children know to express their feelings well and make them feel better, they are self-smart and have a very high Intra intelligence. People like this are self-motivated, confident, goal-oriented, and know-how to get what they want. These people will most likely become self-employed; actors, consultants, researchers, and any career that lets them develop their free spirit.

Leaders influence others. Leadership is the confidence of asking questions, try new things, trusting others, and believing in yourself. If you want your children to become leaders, it is your responsibility to be their role model when they are young and encourage them to reach their highest potentials.

As parents, our job is to help our children identify their strengths and interests, even if it goes against what we want them to be. One way of encouraging our children is by communicating with them. Have conversations about school, ask them about their friends, play family games with them and go out to explore the world as a family. Try to focus on the positive things in their life and help them to further explore their interests and review what may not have gone the way they wanted, and what they can do about it.

Parents do not have to spend a lot of money to give their children what they need. There are many simple ways to develop skills and create memorable family bonding: Playing board games helps your children think ahead, think strategically, and pick themselves up if they do not win a game. Going on hikes helps your children appreciate nature and develop navigation skills. Listening to music together helps the spirit and teaches your children how to enjoy music and artistic creativity. Reading books encourages children to explore different worlds and possibilities in addition to developing their language and writing skills. And remember that spending time with your family builds trust and creates memories that will guide them in the future. Also remember that as your kid gets older and more independent, the biggest thing that you could do for them is just to be there. Even if they may not show their gratitude, it is incredibly important that they know you are there for them. Sometimes, just listening to them is enough.

Good Luck!

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