Six Activities that will Help Your Child Hone Leadership Aptitudes

By Dr. Raymond Huntington

There is such a thing as a born leader, but the truth is, you can cultivate leadership aptitudes in your child from an early age. Whether your child grows up to become a powerful business person, a teacher, or a doctor, the ability to lead people toward a goal and be a positive influence on others is invaluable.

Here are six activities that will help your child develop and strengthen those leadership skills:

  1. Volunteering at an organization that helps people. Leaders have empathy for others, and there is no better way to build children’s empathy than to put them in situations where they can help others who are less fortunate or need support. Empower your child to take action (or get involved in an effort already underway) when he or she sees something wrong in the community and wants to fix it.
  2. Running for student council. By its very nature, student council, whether in elementary school, middle school or high school, is a great way to show your child what it means to inspire change in an organization (a school in this case). Student council will also build your child’s public speaking, teamwork, and organizational skills.
  3. Joining a club and becoming an officer. Any extracurricular involvement will benefit your child in a multitude of ways, but taking on a position such as secretary or treasurer (or even president or vice president) is especially good for your child. Such a position will build your child’s sense of responsibility.
  4. Becoming part of a team. This could be a soccer team, a dance troupe, a glee club or something entirely different. A team environment helps participants cultivate their abilities to collaborate and work effectively with different types of people.
  5. Working with children. This might be most applicable when your child becomes a teenager. Whether it’s babysitting, assisting in a preschool art class or coaching a children’s team, working effectively with younger children requires many of the same competencies that leaders need. Your teen will learn how to manage disorder, get others’ attention and motivate children to work toward similar tasks and goals while building his or her patience in the process.
  6. Being in charge of something. At home, you can help nurture your child’s inner leader by giving him or her something to manage independently. Chores are one option but think bigger. Is there some part of your family’s “modus operandi” that your child or teen could take over? Do you have a family business with which your child could get involved?

Even if your child isn’t planning to become a Fortune 500 CEO, leadership development is extremely beneficial. Your child will grow up to be more confident, adaptable, resilient and capable. He or she will become more proficient at making decisions and listening to others’ ideas (and articulating his or her own). Encourage your child to engage in activities that nurture their leadership skills. The positive effects will be long-lasting.