Teachers are often faced with different kinds of personalities all in one in their classrooms. Parents often wonder and ask how teachers are able to control all children in class. We teachers often giggle at the feeling of possessing some of ‘Tinkerbell’s pixie dust’ powers. It is that one time teachers feel genuinely acknowledged for all the work they do. However, knowing what to do to get our students in order can be an uphill battle; because we often identify the seemingly ‘rule-breaking’ ones as those with certain special child leadership skills.
Leadership qualities emerge in early childhood and fostering such qualities in young children can have benefits in future. It can be easy for many teachers to misidentify leadership behaviours because characteristics of leadership in young children can often present as rule-breaking or boisterousness. As teachers try to achieve classroom tranquility, (which is often consecrated as a gift to the most special teachers), careful strategies must be applied so as not to inadvertently discourage leadership behaviours. Teachers who are aware of and understand leadership in young children can promote development of leadership behaviours. When a child feels discouraged in their leadership attempts, they may suppress or hide leadership qualities. As parents or teachers, we must be mindful when doling out punishments for ‘disruptive’ behaviours in young kids.
So, what are some of the characters to look out for in identifying if your child is developing leadership qualities? Skilled child leaders exhibit both leadership and good followership behaviours. They also reject other children’s play suggestions tactfully, using negotiations and compromise. Here are the combination of things to look out for.
1. Problem solver – Your child creatively solves problems (cognitive skills)
2. Communicates well verbally with peers (social skill)
3. Sensitive and empathic to the feelings of others (social/emotional skills)
4. Your child is sought out by peers (social/cognitive skills)
5. Has high energy levels (physical)
6. Flexible in thought and action (cognitive skill)
7. An independent person (cognitive skill)
8. Is responsible, accepts and carries out responsibilites.
9. Self confident (social/emotional skill)
10. Organizes materials and activities (cognitive skill)
Teachers and parents can improve their recognition of leadership by reading books and articles like this online.
Educators should go the extra mile by attending professional development meetings where strategies for dealing with child leaders are discussed. Everyone should follow up by reading books on leadership to children and/or discuss famous people who exhibit leadership behaviours. Point out special traits of noted famous people that can inspire children and youths to engage in these behaviours that may ordinarily stayed hidden. Nigeria needs children who would grow up with strong leadership qualities. Great leaders are resourceful followers!
What other leadership behaviours have you identified in young children? We’d like to know. Please share in the comment box.