“Leadership and personal development” is a core 21st-century skill. It means the ability to self-regulate and be responsible for contributing to the safety and benefit of others. This skill needs to be specifically developed as it is not something that comes intuitively or genetically to us.
If your child is 6 years and below:
Encourage children to question and work things out- Young children need opportunities to choose and to decide on actions, to investigate and to explore. Read stories to your child and encourage them to predict or personalise the stories. Here are some books across age groups that focus on leadership quality and resilience
Motivate children to take up a sport- Teamwork, value for hard work, as well as respect for others and rules, learned during play can contribute greatly to the overall development of your child. The competitive aspect of sports can also help teach children how to handle both winning and losing with maturity.
If your child is from 6 to 10 years: At this age, children are very inquisitive about the world around them. They challenge what they know and begin to learn how to adapt.
Encourage them to think and plan ahead – Try out fun ways of goal setting with your children to promote a can-do attitude. Use a colourful journal or a large chart paper. Allow your children to choose their goals- even simple goals like brushing their teeth twice a day are good enough. Encourage them to think of the purpose of benefit of their goals. Help them break the goals into achievable targets and finally brainstorm the obstacles and how they could overcome those. Review this once a week or once a month.
Practice mindfulness- Enrolling in yoga and mindfulness activities to develop focus and reflecting on resilience is another way to develop cognitive leadership qualities.
If your child is from 11 to 17 years: Teens experience their first formal organization at school and models of leadership are developed from this critical period.
Model leadership behaviour to children- Children learn from seeing what others do. Tell the child what you are doing and why you are doing it. Let them see you doing it so that they have role models to follow.
Teach children to empathise and be inclusive- Encourage them to work on projects about social issues like participating in a marathon for keeping cities greener or social awareness campaigns or issues relating to animals and other living beings in our ecosystem. Here are some really good campaigns pre-teens and teens could join.
Encourage children to take up hobbies- Hobbies are a platform for teens to pursue their interests, which in turn benefits them in finding their passion, developing new skills and even having a healthy body and mind. Here is a place with some ideas on hobbies which teenagers can pursue.
Teaching children leadership skills at a young age will help them throughout their life. Being a leader is not an exact science, but honing this skill and inculcating habits needed to be leaders can prepare the next generation to take the lead and become responsible adults.
-Munira Hussain, Teacher British Council