During mandatory PTA meetings, play groups, or children's birthday parties, you can bet there are a few parents who humbly say they don't put any emphasis on achievements and are perfectly content so long as the kids are happy and healthy. OK, maybe there's a possibility that these people mean it and I'm just cynical, but chances are there's a teeny tiny part of every parent that is hopeful their child will grow up to be an independent, confident trail-blazer. So you might wonder what are some of the clues you're raising a true leader.
In a way, children really aren't all that different from adults. I'm convinced the only thing that separates grown ups from kids is the ability to scream internally when things don't go their way as opposed to falling out on the floor and wailing. So, just like plenty of fully grown humans, the traits of a leader are somewhat similar in children. Just think of daycare or school as an office where employees have no filter and lack subtlety. The kid who is overseeing the construction of an impressive block tower is probably has some serious leadership skills. Check out these other clues that you're raising a true leader.
1. They Care
Virginia Williams, a child and family psychologist at the University of Wollongong, told The Saturday Daily Telegraph that a trademark of raising a leader is that the child exhibits a desire to care for their peers early on. So if you notice that your child is the one who is comforting or helping their friends in daycare, school, or play groups, they might be on the path to leadership.
2. They Take Risks
According to Forbes, a child who isn't afraid to try something new or risk failure has some of the same traits as a leader in the adult world. From inventors to CEOs, they know that there's no reward without risk and that failure can be a great character-builder. If your child knows this, too, you've got a budding leader in your midst.
3. They Have Charisma
Is your child the life of the party any and everywhere they go? That might be a clue you're raising a leader. "The ones on top in the early elementary-school grades are usually children who are naturally outgoing but who also possess crucial social skills, such as the ability to come up with fun ideas," Dr. Ritch Savin-Williams, professor of clinical and developmental psychology at Cornell University, told Parenting.
4. They Aren't Necessarily Straight-A Students
Some parents use their children's grades as a measurement of success and an indicator for their future. Yet getting an A isn't always everything. "A high GPA with a little wiggle room for failure bodes well for an entrepreneur," according to Entrepreneur.
5. They're Emotionally Intelligent
As defined by the Collins English Dictionary, emotional intelligence is, "the awareness of one's own emotions and moods and those of others." What is the significance of emotional intelligence in children and how does that factor into leadership? "Learning to control desires and learning to wait for rewards is the root of emotional intelligence and the early seeds of leadership," Dr. Ronald Riggio, former Director of the Kravis Leadership Institute, said in Psychology Today.
6. They Are Assertive
There's a fine line between a leader and a bully. Unfortunately, I've seen first-hand when assertive children are mislabeled as bullies because the traits of a leader can look like those of a bully. Dr. Gordon Neufeld provided an example of this in the Neufeld Institutes publication saying, "some alpha children present as bossy, dominating, compelled to take charge." According to Neufeld, the key difference is that in a leader, "their purpose is taking care of the other, but in a bully, it's to exploit vulnerability in order to establish dominance." So long as your child is using their bold personality for good, you know they're on the road to leadership, not bullying.
7. They Enjoy Problem-Solving
If your child is anything like my son, he gets the most satisfaction when he completes a challenging task on his own, such as putting together a puzzle or building a train track. It turns out that the knack for independently finding a solution is a sign of a leader. According to Forbes, children who thrive on self-sufficiency, problem-solving, and are willing to pick up the pieces when things don't work on the first try, are exhibiting qualities of a responsible leader.