What does it take to raise a great leader? That’s a great question! One I was determined to research.
I spent the last few months tracking down parental advice, but not just any advice. I wanted to create a list compiled by some of the most influential leaders, past and present.* What did their parents do that highly influenced them? What was their home like? How did they grow up? I know natural abilities make a HUGE role in how people turn out, but there is no doubt the environment kids grow up in makes an enormous difference in how they turn out.
So here they are!
7 rules that help create healthy, dynamic kids.
1) Think entertainment creation over entertainment consumption:
Limiting screen time in the house is good. Even Steve Jobs the creator of Apple did this with his kids, but further research revealed that the way many leaders, like Steve Jobs, taught their kids to interact with technology was to push them to CREATE media over consuming it. Don’t just download apps that listen to music and watch movies, download apps that MAKE music, movies, or even apps that paint pictures. Encourage your kids to be creative. The next time you hand your phone or tablet to your kids, instead of Netflix open up Garage Band.
2) Eat dinner around the table with your family and talk about current events:
Again, this is a common trait among many great leaders. From a young age they learned to discuss politics, current events, and even morality with adults. They also learned to look adults in the eye and developed good verbal skills. Here is a new rule, one even Steve Jobs had: No technology in the kitchen!
3) Talk highs and lows with your children:
In talking with a child and adolescent counselor, I discovered it is really important for parents to ask their kids on a regular basis these three questions. First, “What was the BEST thing that happened today?” Make them think about it. Then ask, “What was the HARDEST thing that happened today?” Then follow the second question with this one. “What do you think you could have done to make that hard situation better?” Helping your children learn to separate themselves from the situation and see it from a calm, healthy perspective is really important! You are also teaching your children how to be proactive in a positive way with hard things rather than just reacting emotionally.
4) Get outside:
I won’t take the time to list the number of leaders that were taught to courageously explore! When you raise kids that are inactive, always inside, and are convinced the outside world is scary, they have a much higher chance of growing up reserved and afraid. Help them see that the world is a great place to explore and learn about. Make the next vacation a hiking trip at a state park. It’s affordable and really good for them!
5) Learn a musical instrument:
Again, the articles supporting the power of creative thinking are too numerous to list. Here is the bottom line – much of current education really pushes the side of the brain dealing with logic and tasks. This is great, but the more we cut out the creative arts we literally are mentally under developing our children. Light up the creative part of the brain! It’s time to start learning an instrument.
6) Play board games:
There is a lot to this, but here is one of the benefits that really surprised me. It’s so good for our kids to learn to lose. Yep, you read that right! When your kids learn how to deal with failure it will help them become stronger emotionally. They will learn to take a hit and keep pressing on! If you haven’t played board games with them before start with something fun and light like Chutes and Ladders. It is really important that your kids learn to fall behind and not give up as well as lose without falling apart.
7) Memorize the Bible:
I get that this is controversial if you aren’t a Christian, but it’s a huge common theme! Many of the great leaders of the past, from John Wesley to past presidents, from scientists to musicians, from doctors to lawyers, dedicated parents encouraged their offspring to memorize lots of Bible verses. This isn’t just good for the brain, it’s a great way to lay moral and ethical foundations for life. New rule for the house—memorize scripture together and participate in activities that bolster Biblical ethics.
Clearly there are other ideas that emerged, but these were seven that were so prominent I had to share them. All it takes are a few tweaks to your parenting philosophy and you could greatly improve the environment your kids grow up in.
*Not every family used all seven of these. I just chose the most common themes.
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