Raising a Leader

It’s pretty appropriate that today we’re talking about how to instill leadership abilities into our kids. Martin Luther King, Jr. said “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” Teaching our kids resiliency, critical thinking, altruism, and courageous compassion are all things encompassed by leadership.

Teaching kids leadership skills is a topic that is near and dear to my heart, but very difficult to write about, and even harder to apply. You see, I’m not a perfect parent or leader. My kid is not perfect and doesn’t always display perfect leadership skills. And I know that many people reading this post will know that. However, I am TRYING to teach leadership traits to my 8 year-old. And that’s something, right???

Many people know Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits. The good news is that the seven habits work really well for adults – and they also work really well for kids. So well in fact, that several schools have adopted these principles to become “Leader in Me” schools. They teach their students the seven habits and reinforce them through daily lessons. So why not reinforce that at home? Here’s a quick overview of the Seven Habits and how they relate to kids: www.theleaderinme.org/the-7-habits-for-kids

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My husband and I try to teach our son these habits by not only openly discussing them, but also by setting a good example for him. And like I said before, we’re trying, but we’re not perfect! However we know something is sinking in whenever our son calls us on a behavior that is not “leaderly”. BUSTED!

But you don’t have to rely just on your (sometimes flawed) parenting examples and schools to teach leadership to your kids. There are other organizations here in the Huntsville community that focus specifically on this. Kids can have fun with their friends and learn leadership skills.

Here are a few examples:

RUFF Final

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Ready yoUrself For the Future
Website: ruffleadership.org / Follow them on Facebook at Ready yoUrself For the Future!
A great program for guys in grades 5-12. With upcoming programs like “Kicking It R.U.F.F. for Autism Awareness” and “How to Treat A Lady/Etiquette 101” how can they go wrong? Sounds awesome to me!
When: They are currently meeting with the boys the 1st Saturday of each month. They have a themed meeting each month, for example February 1st meeting is Etiquette/How to treat a Lady from 9:00 – 1:00pm at Outback Steakhouse in Madison.
Why: The R.U.F.F. mission statement is empowering young men to be outstanding leaders.

Girls Inc final

Girls, Inc.

The mission is to inspire ALL girls to be Strong, Smart, and Bold. Our vision is to be recognized as North Alabama’s leading advocates for helping girls to succeed in a competitive world.
Website: www.girlsinc.org
Our goals are to help girls:
• Achieve Academic Success
• Improve their self-esteem
• Plan for their futures
• Become economically independent women
• Explore careers in science, math, and technology
• Develop skills to avoid risky behaviors related to alcohol/substance abuse and teenage pregnancy

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Challenge Youth Leadership Hsv

Challenge Program at Leadership Huntsville Madison County

Website: www.leadershiphsv.org
And one of my personal favorites (because I volunteer for them) is the Challenge Program at Leadership Huntsville Madison County. The Challenge youth leadership program is a leadership skills day camp for students in grades 9-12. It provides them with the tools to develop individual leadership skills, increase their understanding of our community and experiment with leadership outside the classroom. Challenge isn’t afraid to take on tough issues! This summer’s sessions will be on leading in difficult social situations.

Cassie Scott, Program Director for the Challenge Program says, “We will discuss teen suicide and how youth leaders in the community can make a difference in helping lower these statistics. We will take a stance on bullying and learn how to handle those situations as leaders. In addition, we will discuss social media and the negative consequences involved with that.” The students also experience a team-building ropes course, volunteer opportunities at local nonprofits like Mana House, and career exploration in different fields. Challenge is currently accepting applications for the 2014 Summer Program.