April 1, 2009

Raising a Future Leader

Spending a week with two three-year-olds reminded me of a few things. Oh, and they're not twins. One is adopted from China. During the waiting period, my friend got pregnant and the girls were born about six weeks apart.

As we went through the week, I relived my days with Meg. One of those little girls, Lena, reminds me so much of my fiery, dramatic middle child. Lena could go from screaming frustration to giggles in about five seconds. And she was IN CHARGE. She knew what everybody should be doing and if they weren't doing it right, you'd hear about it.

So after a couple days, Lesley said she wanted to know more about how I've been parenting Meg, hoping it would help with Lena.

Three things came to mind:

1. Work on self-control. If she can stop screaming for three seconds, reward her. Praise her every time she holds back from hitting someone. And as she gets older, talk about how to do things differently next time someone crosses her, planning ahead as you go into volatile situations. We had weekly get-togethers with other families when Meg was 9 or 10, and inevitably, the boys would not let the girls play football or something, and it would always be me pulling Meg off some whimpering boy. Yes, she is tough. But let me say, she has matured tremendously. This Christmas we got her a CD player for her car, but a part was missing, so she wasn't able to use it for a few days. When I said how sorry I was about this, she said, "That's OK. Meg is a lot more patient than she used to be." :)

2. Give her opportunities to lead. She wants to be in charge, and she's good at it, so give her a chance as much as you can. Churches are always looking for older kids to help out in classes or VBS, and there are usually volunteering opportunities in the community. Or if she wants to start a business, let her. It just helps to let that leadership tendency out and not stay bottled up inside. In the process she'll learn a lot about herself and how to deal with other people in a positive way. I like this quote from Booker T. Washington: Few things help an individual more than to place responsibility upon him and let him know that you trust him.

3. Maintain a good relationship with her. Over the years, this will be very important. She has to know that you love her and trust her and believe in her. Right now she's screaming because she's not getting her way. Later she'll have a car and be able to drive away and the consequences can be life-changing. Do everything you can to be someone she's willing to talk to so you can always be there to help her think through things and make wise choices.

All this works best when you spend a lot of time with your child, being there for the "teachable moments," developing a consistently positive relationship. Homeschooling, right?


Capturing Your Child's Heart


gina said...

Good advice.

G.Dowell said...

Yes, the key seems to be quality time and quantity time helps with good parenting. All relationships need time to develop trusting relationships. Our relationships with our children are not any different.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the good advice, Jena. I'll remember it as I spend each day with my fifteen-year-old.

Karen said...

I'm glad you're back :-)

Thanks for these, Jena - they are good advice for both my boys, so different but both with 'future leader' qualities...


At A Hen's Pace said...

Glad that things went well at home while you were gone, and that you were able to help out this family. What a blessing! I've been praying for your friend.

Good list! I would probably add one more thing--don't let her get her way all the time. This type is good at managing to do that most of the time, but it's not good for them, as one of my teenage sons pointed out to me recently about something my daughter was trying to orchestrate. He saw it more clearly than me, and he was right!

But that advice has to go hand in hand with your third point, maintaining a good relationship with her.


Dana said...

Great advice! I always look forward to what you have to say.

Jena said...

Hi all,

Thanks for your comments. Jeanne, yes, I forgot that point! They have to let other people lead sometimes!! Thanks for adding it.

Unknown said...

LOVE this advice. You are so in tune with your kids.

Traci said...

Oh it's the truth. Both of my kids could benefit from that advice!

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