Strong leaders don’t just happen – they are carefully and thoughtfully raised by mommies and daddies with an eye on the future. When your goal is a strong child who thinks for herself and has the character to lead the way for others, you’ve got some work ahead of you. The good news? The rewards for a job well done should be a confident and secure child who’s got the world at her fingertips.
1. Read About Leaders
There’s almost nothing better than snuggling on the couch, reading with your child while you teach important concepts in an entertaining and enjoyable way. Crack open a book – or two or three – with leadership lessons running through the plot. “Oh the Places You’ll Go” and “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss, “The Little Engine That Could” by Watty Piper and “The Gnats of Knotty Pine” by Bill Peet are excellent resources for teaching leadership.
2. Creative Problem-Solving
Toddlers and preschoolers can get some effective and enjoyable experience with creative problem solving, just by playing with many of the toys they already have. Shape-sorters are perfect for the toddler set because the tots need to choose and then fit the correct shape through the precision hole. In fact, any game or toy like puzzles and blocks that requires sorting or fitting pieces, would help build problem-solving skills, according to the HighReach Learning website. Use simple daily chores like choosing an outfit for the day to teach problem-solving, too. "Will the weather be hot, cold, rainy or windy?" Encourage your little one to think about the day ahead as she chooses an outfit.
3. Help Set Goals
No leader wanders around aimlessly without specific and well-thought-out goals. Your little one should be no different! Help her learn the skills of setting goals and reaching them. Engage in conversation about goals with your little one. These don’t have to be earth-shattering, mountain-climbing goals, either. Make them manageable to ensure success. Perhaps your youngster could learn to tie her shoes, learn how to catch a ball, pedal a tricycle or remember to brush teeth without being reminded. Once you get a goal in sight, make it happen by providing oodles of morale-boosting encouragement. When she succeeds and attains a goal, this is your cue to jump up and down like a lunatic – all in the name of positive reinforcement, of course.
4. Play “Telephone”
Great leaders need solid communication skills, both listening and speaking. It may be “older than the hills,” but the game of telephone still works – and it’s a hoot to play, too! Gather several people – at least four or five for optimal play – and have everyone sit in a circle together. One person thinks of a phrase or message and whispers it to the person beside him. The tale grows taller on down the line with each person listening and then repeating it to the next person until the message returns to the originator. This person says the message aloud and it will be interesting to see how it transforms through each person.
5. Encourage Negotiations
While it may be easier to lay down the law and expect dutiful compliance from your child, this little leader you’re raising will need strong negotiating skills to excel. With this in mind, open the door to productive and positive negotiations in some areas. For example, if you’re serving creamed corn for dinner and your child wants steamed carrots instead, hear her out and let her present her case for carrots. If she gives a strong negotiation, make the switch.