One of the most important skills for a leader to have is knowing their strengths and weaknesses. As a leader for your children, I think that finding out where you are strongest can help in developing your leadership style.
I suggest taking the VIA Survey. Once you identify where you are your strongest, you can use that information to reflect on how you can use your top strengths to lead your children, and you can discuss with your partner where you feel you are lacking.
For instance, my strength is having a love of learning. This means that as a mother, I am very excited about homeschooling. I can’t wait to let him know what I know, and I can’t wait to learn about whatever things he is interested in that don’t necessarily pique me naturally.
It also means that my excitement to try and do new things can be a big part of how I pass responsibility to my child. My excitement about teaching him new skills is going to be one of my strongest assets. Your creativity might make it so that mundane household tasks become games.
On the other hand, I am not a prudent person. In terms of my relationship, that means that my partner will have to pick up some of the slack regarding reserve.
Some people believe that this term of “leader for your child” is a metaphor and not so much a direct corollary, but I think it is a one-to-one or one-to-two comparison. Leaders need to be able to inspire, to delegate, to be responsible for the team, to be creative problem solvers, to be good communicators. These are all skills we need as parents.
Delegation is key. Knowing where and when to step in is an important practice to cultivate.
Don’t be a micromanager. It is demotivating and undermines a persons competence and independence. It gives you the delusion of control and the delusion of busyness. We want to avoid both of these. Trying to control things you can’t is suffering.
It may be hard to watch your shipmates stumble and fall over a simple task. But your shipmates will eventually become capable, if you allow them.
Get down in the dirt with your team. Model for them. Delegation doesn’t mean leaving your mates floating astray in the ocean and blowing the whole ship off course.
What does it mean to delegate to a child?
The first step is responsibility for themselves, to the extent they can handle it. Along with Janet Lansbury, I believe that independent play is an important place to start in extremely young infancy. The next skill they can develop by themselves is likely putting themselves to sleep. Eventually, it will be feeding themselves, which they can start between 4-6 months, whenever you decide to start solids.
As your children get older, there is more and more responsibility that you can pass off to your children. Cleaning their own mess, putting on their clothes, getting snacks from a low cabinet. This is all delegation. It is something you could do or they could do, and you’ll know when they are capable.
At some point, you can start giving them responsibility that has to do with the family, not just themselves. People like to contribute.
A good leader also knows when they’ve made a mistake. If you try to give your child responsibility for something and it is a complete catastrophe, consider pulling back. Be careful not to do it so quickly, though. You should expect a lot of mistakes whenever someone is first developing a skill. Let your child spill the milk several times before you decide the time isn’t ripe.
- What is one responsibility that you can pass off to your child starting today?
- What is one way you can use one of your strengths to lead your child?
- Take the VIA Character Strengths quiz
- Pass off that responsibility