Pay it forward

Will our little loved ones be expected to negotiate a great Brexit deal to be seen as a true leader? What is leadership and how can we develop leadership skills in our children?

Do they need to captain the school hockey team to show genuine leadership skills?  Do they need to be a ‘natural leader’?

Absolutely not!  Leadership can be as simple as having a positive impact on those around you. In this short TED Talk Drew Dudley urges us to celebrate leadership as the ability to influence the lives of others; everyday acts that improve another’s day.

You may have come across the poem ‘Smiling is infectious’:

Smiling is infectious,
you catch it like the flu,
When someone smiled at me today,
I started smiling too.

I passed around the corner
and someone saw my grin.
When he smiled I realized
I’d passed it on to him.

I thought about that smile,
then I realized its worth.
A single smile, just like mine
could travel round the earth.

So, if you feel a smile begin,
don’t leave it undetected.
Let’s start an epidemic quick,
and get the world infected!

…Leadership in children can be built on a very similar principle.

Over dinner, ask your child what and how many acts of kindness they would like to commit to over the next week. Ask the child how they will make sure that they achieve these acts of kindness. Write what they have committed to in their diary or possibly on pieces of paper that they can draw out of a jar. The idea is that, the recipient of each kind act should be encouraged to ‘pay it forward’ by passing the kindness on through other acts of kindness to someone else – and your children need to explain that this is the deal!

If you wanted to go one step further you as parents could do the exercise too; what better way to teach behaviours than by setting a great example? Comment on the impact that your child’s acts of kindness have had on the family.

For those who need a few ideas to throw into the dinner hot pot and get your children’s creative juices flowing, here is some food for thought:

  1. Wash the next-door neighbour’s car
  2. Empty the dishwasher
  3. Make someone a cup of tea
  4. Do some shopping for an elderly neighbour
  5. Carry their sibling’s bag to school

Whatever they do, the key point to convey is that leadership can be shown by us all when we lead by example – not only those lucky enough to be great public speakers!

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