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Leadership Opportunities for Children

By: Hsin-Yi Cohen BSc, MA, MSt - Updated: 20 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Leadership Opportunities Children Lead

By providing children with many opportunities to practise their leadership skills in safe, supportive environments, we can ensure that they grow up to be effective leaders and successful members of the workplace and local community.

Some leadership opportunities exist in a formal capacity, such as being a Prefect at school or a Team Captain, but there are many other valuable opportunities available in every day life if one just makes an effort to look for them and make the most of them.

In The Home

All too often, children are relegated to the role of helpless dependents in the home with very little say or involvement in family matters. This does not promote ownership or pride in the family unit and tends to produce children who feel that everything should be done for them.

Making an active effort to give your children roles and responsibilities can help them gain more leadership experience. This does not just mean a list of chores to do but rather, sharing a vision with your children and giving them projects to manage which build towards that vision.

For example, you could tell your children that the goal of the family this year is to become more environmentally-friendly and give them the task of researching and implementing ways for the family to do so. Not only will this give them practice in organisation and communication, it will also give them a sense of authority and responsibility, in having the whole family follow their decisions and having a specific measurable outcome (eg. reduced power or water bills) based on their actions and decision-making.

Alternatively, allowing your children to “represent the family” – even in small issues – can go a long way towards giving them leadership opportunities. It can be something as simple as sending a teenager over to the neighbours to negotiate a certain issue – this not only makes the teenager feel involved and take ownership in the family’s well-being but also gives them practice in the skills of communication, negotiation and even possibly dealing with situations of conflict.

In School

Schools are the places most people think of for leadership opportunities for children and indeed, most school environments will provide ample variety of opportunities, from sporting teams to drama clubs, public presentations to class trips. Encourage your child to try as many different activities as possible and to take on as many different roles as possible, so that they fully appreciate both the importance of being a good leader and the importance of being led by a good leader.

In The Community

Beyond school and extra-curricular activities, there are also many opportunities for children to experience leadership in the community. One of the best ways is through volunteering and charity work.

For example, getting your child to form a group with his or her peers to organise a fund-raising event for a specific charity is a wonderful opportunity to practice teamwork, communication skills, planning and organisation and dealing with potential conflict. This also teaches them the importance of a vision or long-term goal and working towards a goal together.

Many people believe that great leaders are made, not born, and giving children many opportunities to practise their leadership skills in different arenas is one way to help them grow up to be effective leaders.

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