Master Mom Amanda Olson here.
It's a beautiful Sunday here in Johnson, city, Tennessee, and I'm looking forward to getting out and playing in my garden and working in the yard. I've got some the plants that I picked up yesterday to plant. Not that I need any more plants, but it's fun. It's a hobby for me and especially on a beautiful day like today.
So, I was going to talk today about a kind of interesting subject to me. And that is that of leadership. Especially teaching leadership to children, teaching leadership to teens. I have been teaching leadership for as long as I can remember, you know, back when I was teaching my martial arts classes more robustly than I do now.
One of the things that I realized was especially important was to have the children, whatever lessons they learned, whether it's courtesy, respect, integrity, all the things that we teach, is that they not just know what they mean, but they also are able to show that out in the real world, outside of the, my real martial arts world. That takes confidence and that takes leadership skills. You know, some people are just kind of naturally charismatic and people follow them. They're either funny or they're confident or, you know, they're not intimidated and they just, do their thing. And people follow that energy. They're like, oh, okay, well that's kind of fun. Every time you talk, you make me laugh.
Or, when we go hang out or something, you're pretty bold. And so, we get to do extra things that I wouldn't do on my own. That type of leadership happens kind of naturally in some people, but leadership can also be taught. And I know there's some different rules of thought on that, but I believe that you can become a better leader. You can teach people how to become a better leader. And in my reference of leadership, that means that you have confidence to do the things you want to do. You have confidence to choose the right things. Sometimes, there's pressure to do the wrong thing and leadership can be confidence to choose to do the right thing. Also, good leadership skills help you have more opportunity to have control over your life.
So, if you have leadership skills and you are joining a club and you want to see this club go in a certain direction, whether it's raising funds for this group, or do more work outside the group, volunteer work to help the community, or whatever you want to do. If you have the leadership skills to lead your group or speak up and lead a section of your group, and you can accomplish the things in your life that you want to accomplish, Whether you're eight years old or 28 or 48, 68, or 108, it's the same skillset. And it really provides you an outlet to do the things you want to do, make the differences in the world that you want to make and enjoy life a little bit more.
If you have confidence to speak up and speak your mind, not in a negative way, not bossy or mean way. Just in kind of confident way to live your life in the way that you feel is appropriate for you and being able to step in and help others. Help others using your confidence for people who aren't quite there yet. It's a good way to live. It's a happy way to live.
So, teaching leadership is something that I found was very empowering for little kids. They can learn to say, no. They can learn to say, no, I'm not going to join in on picking on this kid. Or I'm not going to try this substance that is bad for my body. Or I'm not going to misbehave. You know they have that confidence because they can say, I'm a leader. I can choose to do the wrong thing, or I can choose to do the right thing. And, I have that power because I am a leader. Of course, my thing is to teach the kids, to use their leadership powers for good.
But more importantly, I want to teach people, teach children, teach teens that skill. So, when they are living their lives and growing up into adulthood, they can make decisions that they feel confident with. Things that they want to do, not follow the crowd. Confidence gives them that moment to say, “Hmm, you know, I see this in the world, and I'd like to do that about it. I might need to take a different direction than what the rest of the world is doing.”
Interestingly, I was talking about this with a group of folks and one of the people in there said something that just shocked me, just blew me away. They said, “I don't want my child to learn leadership because they'll use it against me. And they won't do what I say.” And I was like, wow, I have never thought of it that way before. So, I had to stop and take a step back. And I started doing a little research on that. And just kind of looking into, you know, is that just that one person's opinion or do other people have this opinion? And I found that teaching your kid to be a leader does not have the same positive connotation to every person in the world. There were many other parents that they've already got a strong willed seven-year-old and the last thing they want to do is to teach them how to stand up for themselves.
Yeah. I can see where that point of view would come from, and why they would think leadership would be something that's just going make their child even more strong-willed, and more obstinate, and more powerful, to not do what I tell them to do.
Well, I'd like to counter that thought by saying: “If your child learns leadership skills then, they also will learn when the right time is to use them. They will learn the difference in being bratty, disobedient, disrespectful, wanting to get their own way and how to be obedient, friendly, helpful, kind, and respectful. There's a big difference. And I think that parents, you've got to teach your children leadership, because the opposite of leadership is followership. And that is not what we want.
Do we want them to listen to us and follow our directions? Yes. Teaching them leadership skills is not going to make them worse at listening to you, it's going to make them better at that because they're going to understand that when they show good personal leadership and teamwork in the family, they get more respect back. When they're better leaders, they're happier. When they're better leaders, they get more opportunity. They get more freedoms because they're showing responsibility. When they're just straight up, strong-willed, disobedient, rude, bratty; they get less responsibility. They get less freedoms. They get more tension and more chaos in the home.
And to be honest with you, the kids really don't want that. They don't really like that edgy feeling or to be miserable. They want exactly what you want, which is a happy and harmonious home. Less chaos, more freedom, more relaxation when you get home. More responsibility is not a bad thing. More responsibility means that you can have more freedom and that you're on the right track. Teaching your children leadership is teaching them to be responsible.
It's teaching them to be responsible with their actions and with their words and with their thoughts. See, leader would understand that to stop their foot and say, “No, I'm not doing that mom.” or to slam the door and say, “I hate you!” that, that, is not appropriate behavior. A leader would understand how to ask politely for something or be patient.
Demanding you get your own way or pout when things don’t go your way is not leadership. That behavior is selfishness and brashness and rude and disrespectful. So, teaching a child to be a leader is not teaching them to be more strong-willed towards you. Teaching them to be a leader, helps them see their responsibility. They're part of the team, the family team. That working together is the way to be happy and to get what you want. Not yelling, screaming, and pouting.
So how do you teach leadership? Well, first of all, you have to define it. So, you have to tell a child or teen what makes a leader. Ask them to think of some leaders in their life and let them come up with people who they look up too or who they think, well, this person must be a leader. You know, one of the first ones they say is the President. I try to get them to think a little bit closer to their life, like maybe a class president or maybe a president of the chess club, or maybe a leader in their church or somebody, a friend in their school who they think is a leader or a teacher at school. So, getting them to think about who are the people in your life you would call a leader?
Now that they have a reference ask: What does leadership look like? What does a leader do?
Talk to them about what kind of leader they want to be. They may tell you that they want to have people do what they tell them to do. You know, I want to be the boss! However, being the boss does not make you the leader. It makes you the boss. You can be the boss and somebody under you can be the leader. Right. That's very, very true. So, I help them understand that, getting people to do what you want them to do, to tell them what to do, make them do what you want them to do is not leadership. That’s bossy!
Parents, you might be the boss of your household, but the child might be the leader. We want to correct that. You need to be the leader. And in being the leader, you teach your child how to be a leader. You teach them that being the boss is not leadership. Being the boss is selfish. Nobody wants to be told what to do. Nobody wants you to pick the game every time. If everybody has to do what you want to do all the time, you're not going to have a whole lot of friends. So, leadership is about, hey guys, what do we all want to do today? What do we all want to play today? What should we do first?
A leader helps people make decisions. They don't just boss everybody around and tell them what to do. And I think that that's where sometimes parents don’t think they want their child to learn leadership skills because maybe they've had that “boss” in their life that wasn’t a leader, just a demanding person. Bossy people are not leaders. Leaders help people get along. Leaders help teams accomplish things.
Leaders have confidence to make good choices. That's why you want your child to have leadership skills. I mean, do you want, your child be the one that does what everybody else is doing? Because either, they don't have confidence, or they don't know what they want? Or would you rather your child be the person that the other kids go to? You want your kid to be the one that the other kids look up to for positive reason.
Teaching your child leadership is going to make them a more compassionate, confident, happy, bold, and courageous person in a positive way. It's going to keep them from being a follower. Teaching your child leadership is going to keep them from following the crowd and following the crowd can be an extremely dangerous thing. At seven years old, it may not be that dangerous. But at 17 it can be extremely dangerous. And if you think that they outgrow lacking confidence or they're magically turned into leaders, when they turn 16 and get a car, I can guarantee you that is not going to happen. They have to begin learning it at the very, very beginning of their life.
I have this philosophy as teacher of leadership and as a martial arts instructor, my responsibility is to help students become a more independent, happy, and competent person. That's the way I look at my job and I want my students to have more independence, more confidence, more happiness. True happiness so that they can get out of life, everything they want, and they can give to life everything it needs. And by that, I mean, the people around them, the community around them.
We are elevated to our best self when we are doing the things we love. When we are living the life, we want to live. Then we are so much more able to give. Don't you want that for your child? Don't you want them to be able to do everything that they dream of and be in a place where they can give more than they receive? That's leadership. Learning to lead yourself, lead others, and then share the knowledge you have. Whether it’s education, money, time, or friendship. When you're in a good place, you can help others be in a good place that is leadership.
So, to parents out there who are concerned that teaching leadership to your child is going to make them meaner to you or more difficult to parent; please delve into that a little bit more and understand the difference between a strong-willed attitude and confident attitude. If you teach them responsibility and leadership and how to effectively use their strong will for good, you can help your child be a leader and be confident without being obnoxious. And this of course will lead to a happier child and more harmonious home!
Thanks! – Master Mom Amanda Olson