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Cultivating the Art of Leadership in Kids

What's leadership? To me it's that mysterious, ethereal energy that motivates a person to rise above others, to assess a situation, and then act and take charge. (There are those who just watch the parade, there are those who join the parade, and then there are those who lead it.)

Leadership begins to sprout at a very young age. Leaders and followers show their colors early on. If, in the presence of children, you use every opportunity to point out examples of leadership and good sportsmanship, you may feel that the children are not listening or understanding, but it's amazing how positive tidbits of someone's actions will be remembered by children and become a permanent part of their memory bank.

Children like to remember good things, such as times when their own actions deserved special praise, or even how when someone else's deeds were praised, it reflected glory on them too. They want to be like the people who merit praise.

Although a child is not going to understand leadership unless it is explained, a young mind quickly absorbs the fact that a leader is a person who makes things better in the world. An adult has to drop that seed of wisdom in young minds and keep reminding them of it. The concept may very well be enough to keep a child strong in the face of peer pressure. The idea of being of genuine use to his world can seize a child's imagination and help him cling tenaciously to moral values when the resolve and values of those around him are less motivated are fraying.

It is important to make a child feel excited about life's possibilities, about the roles of leaders and even the possibility of leadership for him in his own life. If you hear enthusiasm about this in a young voice, stop and listen! Then encourage the passion you hear.

Juliana Hoewing, Principal
Madrone Elementary School

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