Simple ideas to develop leadership qualities in kids 

Camilla’s Story
Camilla (5 years’ old) and Sara (4 years’ old) are best neighborhood friends. Everyday Camilla and Sara play together, where Sara is a dominant one. She decides about every little detail regarding play. And Camilla just follows her. She disagrees many times, but Sara is stubborn and dominant enough to make her quiet. Camilla has an elder brother Nathan (8 years’ old). And Sara is a single child.
The same happens with Camilla at her home too. Nathan, either plays alone, or is the dominant figure when both of them are playing. So, this has become normalcy for Camilla.
One day, a boy classmate of Camilla bullied her. She cried at home but didn’t tell her parents or grandparents. The next morning when her Mom tried to wake her up for school, she cried to not to go to school. When Mom asked her several times, she told about the bully. Her Mom assured her that she’ll talk to her class teacher, and sent her to school.
This is what I believe is wrong at Camilla’s end:
1. She is not getting enough opportunity at home to express her feelings. Feelings can very well be expressed when she is given a little authority and freedom while playing.
Solution: Both the siblings can take turns to decide which game to play. That way, Camilla will gain self-confidence, and Nathan will learn to give importance to his little sister’s feelings. It’s a win-win for both the siblings. But it is easier said than done. Because the elder brother will have to be convinced that this ‘taking turns’ game is a gift of love for him to his sister.
2. Her friend Sara, who is younger than her, is also dominating her during playtime.
Solution: The same solution ‘taking turns’ will be perfect in this scenario. Camilla will gain enormous self-confidence when she’ll be given authority to choose the game she wants to play. Since Sara is a single child, she expects everyone, from her parents to her friends, to go according to her wishes. And that’s not good for Sara too. She needs to learn to play as per Camilla’s wish too. "Everything in our life doesn’t go as per our wishes, and we need to learn to handle disappointments too."
3. She is facing problem to deal with bully at school.
Solution: Her family needs to be with her as she needs mental support from her parents. Sometimes, we believe that if we are feeding our kids properly, and making them learn their lessons at school... then we are doing enough. I think our kids need us for reasons more important than food or school lessons. They need us to teach social skills, and how to deal with people. I have earlier written a whole blog on bullying where I emphasised on the fact that no matter how small bullying appears to us as adults, it is a BIG THING for our kids. They are new to this world and need our guidance as to how to handle bullies. We can’t leave them alone thinking that they’ll learn when they grow up. How on the Earth they are going to learn if we aren’t there to guide them? Do we want them to learn from a stranger? Absolutely No.... It’s a request to all the parents – Be there for your kids when it comes to bullying.

So here are the simple ideas, that I believe, will help develop leadership quality in our kids:
1. Let’s play with them for as little as 15 minutes. And let them be the leader. We might be amazed to see their ideas. Please don’t underestimate the power of simple play. There is so much brain development hidden behind it.
2. Let’s teach them our old games like kabaddi, kho-kho, corners, stapu, raja mantri chor sipahi, hide and seek, vish amrit, langdi taang. I am sure all of us must have played these games. There is so much science behind these games that we can’t even imagine. And these are much better games, involving both mind and body, than the games kids play while sitting. Surely the best bet for our future leaders!!
3. During play dates, ask kids to take turns for few minutes. Everyone gets a chance to decide what is to be played. Every kid gets a chance to be a leader. Awesome!!
4. At home too, ask siblings to take turns during play time. The elder one has to listen and abide by the younger one. Teach them gently that it is for both kids’ benefit. Leaders taking turns!! 
5. When kids acquire confidence from home, they are better at school with the bullies. They get confidence to report bullying to their teacher. And of course to their parents as well. Development of strong communication in leaders!! 
6. Single child becomes too pampered for the obvious reasons. Parents have to understand that life won’t always be goody-goody for her. She needs to give importance to others’ feelings too. That’s part of life. Leaders face tough times with bravery!!
I too am in the process of applying these ideas with my kid. I hope these serve well for all the parents out there.
All the best!!

-Deepti Malhotra Thakur


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