I was in Chennai and accompanied my daughter to my grandchild’s open day (in play school!) session. On enquiring about N (my granddaughter), the teacher, smilingly, said ‘Your daughter has leadership qualities’. Leadership qualities at 3 yr and 2 months!!
I jokingly asked ‘Is she a Leader or a bully?’ as I knew N could get her way around. ‘No’ said the teacher, ‘not a bully; if she wants other kids to jump, she is the first one to jump. She sets an example for others to follow and now others look to her for a lead…’
Enough we have heard and experienced that the kid of today is real fast… they adapt to technology much faster than their parents; their retention is amazing etc etc but leadership qualities at 3 years! It bowled me over!!
Leadership is not, usually, what we think to teach kids. I asked B, my daughter, whether she had taken any active steps to inculcate leadership in N? B laughed, ‘No Papa, what could I have done? Just normal parenting’.
I spent some time with B & R (N’s parents) learning which actions of theirs, in their belief, had helped inculcate leadership skills in N; and combined it with inputs from select members of my ubiquitous database; this is what I gathered:
- B said ‘we never shied away from answering any query she may have; we actually encouraged her to ask questions; and how would you encourage a child to ask questions? Whenever R would come home, B would ask some pointed questions, which would evoke a definitive response from R. They never told to any query of her ‘not now. Don’t you see I am busy’. If our kids can ask better questions, they learn to be creative and it helps them find a solution to any of the challenges they face.
- They never reprimanded her for any of her mistakes; they used that occasion to teach her how it could have been avoided. She learnt that everyone makes mistakes; trick is to learn from the same.
- They always listened to her attentively; B, being a Masters in Advertising & Communication, knew the importance of listening as a basis of effective communication. Skills to communicate well, (yes, even in a 3 yr old) gives confidence and both are necessary for leadership skills.
- B even involved N in planning her 2nd Birthday; what type of cake, who would she like to invite, what should we give for food etc. Planning is a necessary leadership skill – albeit with strategy
- Perseverance – all kids fall while learning to cycle; all kids run scared when put in water but we parents ensure they don’t quit. I have always maintained that even a 1 yr old child can be really ‘spoken’ to. Teaching your kid to never quit; teaching that every act that seems difficult is conquerable is a leadership skill in itself.
We have to decide whether we wish our child to be a leader or a follower? It’s never too early, or too late for that matter, to begin teaching kids the basics in leadership.
Dr Chander Asrani, father to three daughters and grand father to one, is a post-graduate in Family Medicine. He has over 35 years in clinical practice, launched www.growingwell.com in 2000 and since then has been writing on various subjects. Know more about him at about.me/drasrani.