Who were the main adults that influenced you as a kid? Friends, of course. Parents, yes. But maybe also teachers? Your grandparents? Your coach? Other people’s parents?
Children are the up and coming leaders of the future. And they are learning how to lead every day, also right now, in the midst of an ongoing pandemic that has dramatically decreased the number of personal interactions that we all have.
Now more than ever, our kids require us, as parents, to be a voice of possibilities. A voice of change. A voice that empowers them to know what they know and follow that. A voice that lets them know that even with the uncertainty that COVID 19 has created in the world, they are not alone, we are all in this together and they’ve got this.
Use your voice and empower them to be the leaders of their own lives; leaders that invite the world to greater possibilities. Here are 3 things every child needs to hear.
1. The difference of you, is the gift of you.
Every single person that has changed the world for greater has been different than anyone that came before them!
What if Leonardo da Vinci had settled for being a peasant, like his mother?
What if Rosa Parks had given up that bus seat?
What if Carl Linnaeus had stayed put in Sweden?
What if Jane Austen had bought the idea that women should not write?
What if Nelson Mandela had been satisfied being a pretty darn good lawyer?
History is full of leaders that changed things for greater and every one of them made the choice to be different and follow what they knew to be true… no matter what.
Start conversations with your kids about people like this. Both famous ones and people that they know personally. Point out the struggles they faced, and how the difference they were willing to be, changed everything.
Ask your kids, “What is the weirdest thing about you? What makes you different from me? From your best friend? From other kids in school?”
Let them know that what makes them different is exactly what makes them great!
And talk to your kids about the trap of comparisons. We are all unique. The tulips don’t compare themselves to other flowers in the field and think they are not red, yellow, or purple enough. The trees don’t try to reach the sky the fastest. The birds don’t wake up and say, “I am having a bad day, so I won’t sing.”
What if we could be more like the plants, the trees, and the birds? And enjoy every different song, color, and size we come across in our lives? Within ourselves and in others?
2. Your choice creates your future.
Your child’s life is up to one person: THEMSELVES. Contrary to popular opinion, it is not a parent’s job is not to teach their kids right and wrong.
Rather, our job is to empower them to ask questions and choose.
Instead of saying. “This is wrong, don’t do it.” Ask, “If you choose this, what will it create? Will it hurt you or someone else? What will your life be like in one month if you choose this?”
Show them that every choice they make creates something. If they are willing to continuously ask questions, look at the result of their choices and choose again, they will become the creator of the life (and world) they truly desire.
3. Vulnerability is a strength.
The way I see it, being a leader is not about having followers. Being a leader is not about knowing the right answer and get others to align and agree with you. Leadership is knowing that you know, and what you know, and heading there whether or not anyone else follows.
However, to lead in this way requires vulnerability.
Vulnerability is where we have nothing to prove and no need to hide any part of us. When we are vulnerable, we know all of our flaws and we don’t try and cover them up. Vulnerability is about showing up as you are, with no walls or barriers.
As parents, we invite our kids to vulnerability by choosing to be vulnerable ourselves. We empower our kids to choose vulnerability when we do not judge them or their choices, and even more so when we don’t judge ourselves or our choices. Children learn way more from what we do and are, than from what we say.
Show your kids it is ok to choose something and get it wrong. Being a leader means admitting that and choosing again. Just tap into the potency and freedom of that: choosing to get more awareness instead of choosing to get things right. Would you be willing to invite your kid to that possibility?
To raise our future leaders, be a leader in your family. Your willingness to be different, to ask questions, to choose, and to choose again, in total vulnerability, is your greatest gift to your children.
It isn’t rocket science, but it does take courage and some practice. If any of the above reads for you, try it out? Find a way to explore these tools with your children. Find out what works for you, and in your unique family.
You know, you always know. Head that way!
Dr Dain Heer is a propellant for people to know they can change anything in their lives. Originally raised in the ghettos of Los Angeles, Heer was exposed to constant abuse and bullying, which has fueled everything he does including reaching our youth from a very young age with messages of hope and resilience, seen in both of his children’s books The Baby Unicorn Manifesto and The Baby Dragon Manifesto.