Overcast   66.0F  |  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

Mushroom Recipes for a Family Meal

Mushroom Recipes for a Family Meal

Mushrooms can be a tough sell with picky eaters but these dishes will entice them to try a bite – or two!

Tennessee Law Prevents Parents from Giving Child a Hybrid Last Name

Tennessee Law Prevents Parents from Giving Child a Hybrid Last Name

Carl Abramson and Kim Sarubbi mashed together their surnames for their first two kids, but Tennessee law says they can't use the last name 'Sabr' for baby No. 3.

Sticky Fingers Duct Tape Book Offers Easy Bow Making How-To

Sticky Fingers Duct Tape Book Offers Easy Bow Making How-To

Sophie Maletsky's new guide, published by Zest Books, is packed with fun crafts and DIY ideas kids and families can make out of colorful duct tape.

Paper Craft Fun with Handprints, Garland and Kawaii Art

Paper Craft Fun with Handprints, Garland and Kawaii Art

This versatile craft material transforms into an acorn fall creation, decorative ribbon, cute Japanese critters and cool dividers for your kid's closet.

How to Prevent Your Child from Choking

How to Prevent Your Child from Choking

Mealtime can turn from pleasant to panic in a matter of seconds. Protect your child from this mishap with our list of dos and don’ts.

YouTube Moms Parody Iggy Azalea's Hit Song 'Fancy'

YouTube Moms Parody Iggy Azalea's Hit Song 'Fancy'

The rapper's had the hit of the summer, but these clever mothers made it their own, riffing on pregnancy and motherhood in some pretty funny viral videos.

Biscuit Recipes: From Classic to Chocolate

Biscuit Recipes: From Classic to Chocolate

September is National Biscuit Month, but you can bake these any time! These recipes, including classic biscuits from Betty Crocker and cornmeal biscuits from Martha Stewart, will have you reaching...

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement