Fair   89.0F  |  Forecast »

Tips for Teaching Teens Leadership

It's easy for teens to succumb to peer pressure – but it doesn't have to be this way. Here are three things parents can do to foster their adolescent's take-charge spirit.

At some point you may ask your teen one of parenting's biggest clichés: "If your friends were jumping off a bridge, would you?" For good reason. Teens listen to (and behave like) their friends because they want to be accepted and feel like they truly belong to a group, but parents want their kids to make good choices. It takes a teen with an exceptionally strong personality – a leader – to oppose a peer group and have faith in his or her ideas and values. But it's not something they're just born with.

"Leadership is learned behavior," says Susan Kuczmarski, Ed.D., author of The Sacred Flight of the Teenager: A Parent's Guide to Stepping Back and Letting Go. "It is developed through experience. The most effective way of learning leadership is through doing."

Here are three ways to help your kid become a leader:

Let them do for themselves

Give your kids a chance to actually practice taking the lead: Stop doing everything for them. Let them make their dental appointments or figure out how to balance busy days – when age appropriate, of course.

"Kids should be given responsibility at a young age, well before adolescence. This builds work ethic and self-confidence," says Matthew Smith, owner and director of Longacre Leadership, a summer leadership camp for teens in Newport, Pa. "Leadership is about self-confidence – knowing you can make decisions and knowing you can take responsibility."

Seek leadership roles

There are many – in school and the community (team captain, class president, Scout leader, religious ed coordinator). "Extracurricular activities are ideal places for teens to explore and practice what it means to be a group leader," Kuczmarski says. It can help teens learn their style and strengths.

For instance, if she's adept at organization, she might develop a list of specific tasks for student government officers to boost efficiency. Teens also learn a group's needs and discern who is best suited for various assignments based on their abilities.

Give real praise

Offer it – often – but not the empty sort. Frequent but unsubstantiated compliments just make kids not believe you when you point out the true things they should be proud of.

"Learn to praise your teen in a way that encourages her to acknowledge her own strengths," Kuczmarski says. This all helps teens develop invaluable life skills and learn to believe in themselves.

Add your comment:
Advertisement

More »Latest Articles & Blog Posts

5 Tips to Get Your Kids Interested in Cooking

5 Tips to Get Your Kids Interested in Cooking

From picking out ingredients to concocting their own culinary creations, here are a few ways to encourage your children to help out in the kitchen.

Family Picnic Recipes and Ideas

Family Picnic Recipes and Ideas

Head to the park or on a hike and make the great outdoors your dinner spot. Here are six ideas to help you plan your meal – from drink to dessert.

Book Review: Three Fun Summer Craft Reads for the Family

Book Review: Three Fun Summer Craft Reads for the Family

Want a few simple, fun sewing ideas for the kids, projects to brighten up their rooms or maybe just tips for DIY tinkering? These authors have you covered.

Dad Claims African Land, Declares Daughter is a Princess

Dad Claims African Land, Declares Daughter is a Princess

A father from Virginia claims a patch of desert in Egypt, calls it the Kingdom of North Sudan – just so his daughter can be the princess of this region.

Spray-on Sunscreen Warnings for Kids: FDA Investigates Safety

Spray-on Sunscreen Warnings for Kids: FDA Investigates Safety

Parents might want to think twice before using this alternative to lotion sunscreen as the Food and Drug Administration investigates its potential risks.

DIY Accessories: Puppets, Sandals, Ninja Turtles and Hoodie

DIY Accessories: Puppets, Sandals, Ninja Turtles and Hoodie

If you're looking for a fun decorative summer vacation family project or two, these four blog picks will get you and your kids off to a great start.

The Importance of Raising Risk-Taking Children

The Importance of Raising Risk-Taking Children

Parents want to protect their kids from failing or getting hurt, but that's impossible. In fact, it's critical to let them take risks. Here's why – and how to raise a risk taker.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement