How to Raise a Leader

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Leadership can be hard to define. You could say it’s the act of guiding or influencing a group of people, but that definition doesn’t quite capture the spirit of what parents mean when they say, “I want my child to grow up to be a leader.” After all, you’ve probably never said, “I’d really like my child to be a follower.”

Every parent wants to raise a leader because leadership is code for thriving — confidence, perseverance, success and a general zest for life — and following is code for being uninspired or achieving below your potential.

When we think about how to cultivate these qualities in children, it can be helpful to focus on what makes for a strong leader.

Support Independent Thinkers

There are a lot of childcare professionals urging kids to take risks these days, and for good reason — being afraid to fail holds kids back and prevents them from achieving what they’re capable of doing. It can also keep them from encouraging others to do the same. And if things don’t work out as hoped for your kids, having experience failing means they can cope with it. For example, when Daniel Tiger learns to ice skate, he shows kids that it’s okay to fail, or fall in this case, and then get up and try again. Leaders take intellectual risks, as well, and being an independent thinker — and appreciating independent thinking — are important leadership skills.

To find out more about supporting independent thinkers and get more tips on how to raise a leader, visit PBS.org.

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