Dr. Rich Patterson

Part Two. Parenting on Purpose: Personal Leadership

I think that teaching our kids personal leadership may be one of the most important skills that they can learn.  More than ever, kids are bombarded by the negative side of life.  Try this, come with me here, let’s do that, don’t take that from him, and so on.  Personal leadership says, establish your own character limits in advance.  Know what your non-negotiables are and be able to apply them during those weaker moments of choice.

Teaching character takes time and there are no short cuts.  Here are a few tips that will help to lead you toward working on personal leadership with your kids.

  1.  Help them to establish their character frame by having a discussion with them about as many social situations as you can think of in advance.  Take for example, a situation where a friend wants them to skip school.  Take the situation a part with them, encourage them to think long-term of what the consequences are regarding those spur of the moment distractions.
  2. Those moments of choice only last for a short while.  If you will help your child to establish behavior norms from which they will not veer in advance, then they have a much better chance of being successful when faced with those moments of choice.  I like to remind kids that those moments only last for a short-while.  If we can be strong during that short time and hold fast to our beliefs and our personal behavior standards, we will be so glad that we did when that choice passes.
  3. Teach kids to re-direct negative behavior with statements learned and practiced in advance.  Statements like, “I don’t participate in things like that.”  or “That isn’t what I’m about, let’s do this instead (suggesting something more positive) or “You know I really enjoy being around you, but when you act like this, I feel like you’re dragging me down.”
  4. Don’t forget you can vote with your feet and walk away.  That is always an option.  Teach kids to not look back or listen to what is being said.  They will likely be called names, labeled as this or that.  Tell them to just walk away and pay no attention to them.  I like to remind kids that they always have a choice, so if their friends don’t recover from an exchange, such as number three above, then gradually drop them as a friend.

These four areas of character development will serve as some great discussion points with your kids.  I really believe that as parents, when we can talk with them in advance of situations they will likely face, helping them to know what to say, what to do, and that they can call them as parents anytime, we give them skills that they can use for a lifetime.

More on Friday of this important topic of Parenting on Purpose.