GOAL: Help kids develop leadership skills
The ADVENTURE: Participate in one or more of the activities listed below, or other activities you know of that will help your kids develop leadership skills.
- Having a friendly competition can be fun and create a natural reward as long as everyone has a chance to be the winner. Be careful to avoid creating a negative experience by having one child feel like they are always the loser.
- Providing natural rewards like surprise treats at the end of Activity #2 when they get to the other side of the room, or deviled eggs with dinner after completing Activity #5 provide rewards for everyone for participating.
- Spending quality time together during the processing part of the activity, if done correctly, will be an intrinsic reward for your children, even if they don't show it at the time. Be sure that you give them your full attention, validate their experience and the observations they share, build them up and compliment them on the things you noticed that are worthy of complimenting.
- Let the family members come up with their own leadership activities, and let them take the LEAD when you do it!
- After completing this adventure, be sure to notice and point out leadership skills your children demonstrate in real life. A simple 'Wow! Those were great instructions you just gave. You are an effective leader that is easy to follow."
Learning leadership skills from a young age can provide kids with an excellent head start in life. Not every child has a personality that is automatically predisposed to leading other people, but it can be extremely valuable to learn different leadership techniques to develop confidence and overall mental well being.
Below are some of the best leadership activities for kids that you can easily replicate and teach in the home. If you only have one child you may want to invite a cousin or friend over for these activities. Before you know it, you’ll be swarming with the next generation of the world’s leaders!
Activity #1: Same or Different
Have your family sit in a circle and face each other. One child will go first. Have them look around the circle and point out someone who they believe they look similar to. Once they’ve chosen someone, have them explain what their similarities are. Afterwards, have them identify some differences. Then have the family member they chose go next and do the same thing with someone else.
- They will always enjoy what’s in common with each other, even though they have differences too.
- We all have similarities, but we all have differences as well.
- Sometimes both the similarities and the differences are more difficult to see with the naked eye. We need to get to know people to really understand them.
- Some differences will impact our behavior (gender determines which bathroom you go to, vision will determine whether or not we wear glasses, etc.), while others have no impact on how we impact each other (eye color, hair color, family make-up, etc.)
- There may be exceptions to the above . . . discuss those
They key is to normalize this concept of everyone being similar and different at the same time. This will bolster everyone's confidence in themselves both physically and mentally.
Activity #2: Leader of the Blindfolded
Choose one family member to be the leader first. All other family members need to be blindfolded. It is then up to the person who is the leader to guide their blindfolded family across the room with clear and easy to understand direction. Time the process to see how long it takes. Take turns being the leader. You may want to spice it up by moving some of the furniture or putting obstacles in the route after everyone is blindfolded so that they can't memorize the path. You can create friendly competition by giving a prize to whoever gets their group across the quickest. Make sure everyone gets a turn at being a leader and experiment with different environments. This is a fantastic confidence builder for the leader as well as an awesome trust exercise.
- What skills were needed by the leader to help get the blindfolded followers safely across the room?
- What skills were needed by the follower to get across the room safely while blindfolded?
- Aren't we all sometimes leaders and sometimes followers in real life?
- What happened if someone assumed they knew the layout and didn't follow the leader's direction?
- Did it get easier for the leader after the second or third try? for the followers?
- Did you notice any differences in leadership style?
- Why is communication important?
- What was your experience with this activity?
Activity #3: The Listener
Split the family up into pairs and have each set find somewhere private to sit. One person from each set is to be designated “The Listener”. Stress the importance of this role heavily so they begin to understand what will be expected of them as a leader. Their job is to listen to the other person talk about themselves and take notes. The family member who is talking should be encouraged to talk about basic information such as who their friends are, favorite activities, things that have happened that week, etc. It is up to “The Listener” to listen carefully and note down this information. Once they’ve finished, it’s your job to quiz “The Listener” on the information they have found out about their partner. The more they’ve listened, the more information they will have. This is a great way of learning the invaluable management skill of listening to the people you lead, to ensure a harmonious environment. After they’ve finished, have them swap around and have the talker become “The Listener”.
- What did you learn from this activity?
- Was it hard to listen and not respond?
- Did you learn anything new about the family member that you didn't know?
- Which was easier- talking about the other person or talking about yourself? Why?
- How does this apply to your life?
Activity #4: This is Me!
As you will have figured by now, confidence is key to building up leadership skills in kids from an early age. One of the best activities to foster and unlock this type of confidence is called This is Me! It’s pretty self-explanatory-- it's a celebration of the self. Give each family member a piece of paper and draw themselves on it. Now have them put things on there that they think help define their identities. This can be things such as hobbies and interests, their school, their favorite vacation spot, or a cut out from a magazine one of their favorite athletes or celebrities. Once they have finished creating this shrine to themselves, have them swap with other family members and get them to compare differences and what they have in common. This is an instrumental technique in ensuring kids become comfortable in who they are and what they wish to represent.
- Was it easy or difficult to build a shrine to yourself?
- What did you learn about yourself as you thought about the things you wanted to include?
- What did you learn about differences and similarities you have with other family members?
- How does understanding ourselves help us be a better leader?
- How does understanding those we lead help us be a better leader?
Activity #5: Direct the Egg
Split the family into two groups and give each side an egg. The aim of this game is to get them to ferry the egg across the room in the most interesting and creative way possible. Of course one technique could just simply be to pick up the egg and walk over to the other side of designated area. But that’s not the type of activity that you should be encouraging. Allow family members to appoint their own leader in this task and give them an appropriate amount of agency. Don’t restrict them from doing anything in particular unless of course it is a threat to health and safety.
- Analyze the ways in which they choose to move this egg across the room.
- How many people do they get involved?
- Are they making sure everybody is made to feel useful?
- What was your experience with this activity?
- What was the hardest part?
As you can see, there is a wealth of leadership skills that can be cultivated and blossom from this task as well as the other activities. The most important part with each of these activities is for family members to EXPERIENCE the game, and then to process it, and discuss what worked, what didn't work, what they noticed, how it made them feel, and how it applies to their lives.
We hope you find the activities listed here to be helpful and engaging. Remember, some kids are more naturally talented when it comes to leadership skills than others. This gives them an advantage, but it’s still your job to encourage and foster these habits to ensure they are used properly.
On the other hand, just because one of your kids isn’t showing natural leadership qualities doesn’t mean they can’t yet be molded into a great leader. That’s what these activities are here for after all. Have fun directing and encouraging the leaders of tomorrow!
by Building Character: