Are Your Kids Followers or Leaders? Are You Sure?

As adults we have all reminisced on how great things were “in the old days”.  Life was simpler, things moved slower, even cookies tasted better.  But, we all hope that one thing is different; that our kids will be smarter than we were. Not just more tech or world savvy, but more able to make good decisions and not be led astray by what appears good, but may not really be good.

We can’t give them skin of Teflon, but we can inspire them to be self-aware, confident and happy in their own skin. 

The principles used to train leaders at work applies to raising leaders at home. You have to show them how to balance “managing up” (following direction) and “managing down” (giving directions)  At the same time they must be able to understand how they feel and relate to both.  I know that this can be tricky as a parent.  We want our kids to be leaders, not followers, yet we still want them to follow our directions.  This is where intentional leadership is born.

Get to Know Your Children as if You’ve Just Met
You may think, “I already know my kids, I live with them every day”.  But, that may not be true.  Did your parents really “know” you? 

We are all unique individuals and have “self-talk” going on almost 24/7.  That is true for your kids as well. Remember your one year old babbling happily to herself?  She was having the most in-depth conversation with herself and her toes. 

Well, that self-talk turns into the inner voice that we all have.  Make sure that you ask your child insightful questions about what he/she really wants to be and do in the future as well as and today. 

Instead of asking, “What do you want to be when you grow up”, try asking:

  • What kind of person do you want to be today?
  • What makes you happiest? Saddest?
  • What does mommy/daddy do that makes you feel happy?
  • Why do mommy/daddy tell you no?
  • What do you think makes the kids at school act “bad” in class?
  • What do you feel when …..

These are dialog starters.  Create your own questions that uniquely fit your child’s situation. Opening up to positive self-reflection and helping them understand their own emotions is key in helping them to know their own inner voice. This encourages them to be strong enough to resist feeling the need to follow “other voices”.

Don’t miss the great opportunities of knowing what your children innately know, what they have already learned and where they learned it. You’ll also find out what they know, that you don’t know. Which may surprise you.

Understanding who our children are, also helps us understand what unique skills they have.  Ask about their passions and goals for the immediate future.  Find out what motivates them and get involved in helping them reach those successes. It shows that you care about their goals and will encourage them to care more about your goals as a family. It also encourages empathy for others.

Keep a Record. You can make this fun and formal.  Older kids can journal their goals themselves or you can do it together. 

For kids that can’t write yet, this is a fun activity.  If their goal is to be Minnie Mouse, you can ask:

  • What kinds of things does Minnie do that you like?
  • How would you do those things? 

This helps you really get a picture of who your child is and makes for great bonding time.  Post the answers and work towards those goals (which will change frequently).  Do this regularly and you have a great journal/scrapbook of your child’s development.

Because of activities like these, when your kids are older, they’ll have amazing snapshots of their own journey and self- discovery.

Want more great tips for amazing kiddos? Get my FREE resource : Raising Leaders . Help nurture your kids into being leaders (who still follow your directions).

Get Your Free Copy of
Raising Leaders