Since our first child was born twenty-one years ago, my husband and I have tried to instill leadership skills in our children. I want my children to be impacting the world around them in a positive way for many years after I’m gone.
This starts when your children are young, if you wait until they are “old enough” you don’t allow them to develop skills and habits that will help them become great leaders.
In our family this begins in the home by giving our kids responsibilities (aka chores) at a young age. As they grow older we look for opportunities for them to serve their community by volunteering. We try to find opportunities that allow us to work together as a family, so we can help shape positive attitudes and instill a good work ethic.
This could be something as simple as working around the house, helping a friend move, or mowing a neighbor’s grass when they are out of town.
We also participate in community events that allow our family to serve in a greater capacity and help our children develop the leadership skills that they will need as they grow older.
You may wonder, how do chores and volunteering help develop leadership skills? When our children have responsibilities around the house they are given ownership of those responsibilities. After they are able to complete their chores they are in charge of certain areas of the house (room, bathroom, kitchen counters, etc). They take responsibility for keeping those areas clean and organized.
Last year we purchased a fixer upper house. All our kids worked on the home renovation. Even Cora could help by peeling wallpaper and doing other small jobs. The level of ownership our children have in the house they helped renovate is something that can only be achieved by doing.
They learned how to manage their time, get jobs done, ask for help, teach others, and work together. They developed leadership skills by working together and finding ways to help out even when they weren’t asked.
We also try to get involved in community projects. My boys have coached soccer teams, helped the elderly in our community with home repairs, and volunteered at the local food bank.
Today’s youth want to make a difference. According to a National 4-H Council and Harris Poll, when it comes to their personal role in addressing key issues, most youth (88%) say they believe they can make a difference, they see themselves as leaders (74%) and they feel a responsibility to lead (73%).
However, only one in three young people says they have the skills they need to be prepared to lead. Half of all high school students report they are not prepared to lead in their life after high school – for college or career.
Here are some practical ways our children have learned how to be leaders in our home and community.
- Coaching sports teams
- Helping out at the local food bank
- Volunteering at local events, such as Easter egg hunts, Trunk or Treat, and Vacation Bible School
- Helping friends/ family move
- Having responsibilities around the house
- Doing odd jobs for the elderly in our community
This year my son had a unique opportunity to give a presentation at his younger sibling’s school. They were studying reptiles, and since my son has several reptiles as pets he was asked to talk to the kids about snakes and lizards.
My son was able to give a unique and informative presentation to almost fifty children, answer questions, and teach them about animals in a creative way. He did a great job and the kids were excited and interested in his talk.
I have no doubt that all his leadership opportunities in the past helped my son give an hour and half presentation on animals without even breaking a sweat.
As my kids are growing up, I try hard to notice their leadership efforts and motivate them by giving positive feedback.
4-H wants to help you recognize and encourage our youth. You can join with 4-H to help more kids get the opportunities they deserve by publicly honoring youth who are making an impact (big or small) in their lives and the lives of others. You can recognize the youth in your family and local community by sharing their leadership efforts on social media with the hashtag #TrueLeaders.
You can also take a moment to join their ThunderClap to share one unified message about how great kids are today.
Help the next generation become leaders by offering them opportunities, encouragement and recognition.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of 4-H. The opinions and text are all mine.