How to Make Your Kid a Leader & Not a Follower

“Leadership is influence,” John C. Maxwell once concisely stated. Many parents dream that their little ones will grow into powerful influencers. Instead of just passively hoping that your child will reach this goal, actively work to make this dream become a reality. Start early and teach your child the benefits of leadership, helping him build the skills necessary to step up and take action.

Read about leadership 1. When selecting picture books, seek ones that feature strong leaders. After reading the tales, discuss the leadership present in each book with your little one. As your child grows, give her novels or biographies that include stories of successful leadership, providing her even more powerful examples to one day emulate.

Encourage your child to take on leadership opportunities. If your child has no practice being a leader, he will likely find the rigors of leadership uncomfortable. Get him started early, suggesting that he volunteer for leadership positions in school or community organizations as early as elementary school, suggests Dr. Steven Richfield for the website HealthyPlace. During these early efforts in leadership, support him, asking him frequently about his experiences and helping him stand up to the challenges.

Let your child make choices. Leaders make decisions confidently. Build your child’s decision-making confidence by allowing her opportunities to decide things for herself. Instead of selecting a toy to buy her, give her the money and allow her to select the one that she would prefer. Talk to her about her choice, asking her how she made her decision to encourage her to think critically about the decision-making process.

Help your child set goals. Leaders must be goal-oriented. Ask your child to set academic and social goals for himself. Check with him regularly regarding his progress towards these goals. Help him modify them or set new ones as necessary.

Use social media to provide leadership opportunities. The Internet makes it easier for your child to get involved in a cause about which she is passionate, reminds Mariam G. MacGregor, author and founder of, as noted in “Portland Family” magazine. If your child cares greatly for animals, encourage her to join an online community full of animal lovers and actively participate, ultimately working her way up to a leadership role.