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Leadership Skills Start at Home


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Most children’s first leaders are their parents — a huge responsibility for anyone with kids. While it’s easy for parents to hold themselves to an unrealistic standard of perfection, the reality is that no parent is perfect. According to Michelle Felder, founder and CEO of Parenting Pathfinders as well as a mother of two herself, not only is this okay, it can actually be a good thing.

In this week’s episode of Motivational Mondays, Felder joins Corey Andrew Powell to discuss how accepting imperfection and being willing to learn is all it takes to become a better parent and raise healthy children. In fact, exhibiting leadership skills as a parent can lay the foundation for children to become future leaders instilled with positive values.

Leadership Begins at Home

Parents are ultimately just people who come with limitations, mistakes, and regrets. In Felder’s eyes, that’s an invitation to drop performance pressure and stop chasing perfection to focus instead on what kids really need: healthy adults and behavior to model. Felder drives home the importance of awareness of the impact words and actions have in development. “The way that we parent, the way that we respond — that's going to really guide who they are, as children and as grownups,” she tells Powell.

Maintaining this clear-mindedness is challenging with so many societal pressures, but Felder recommends that parents stop thinking of their role as a performance they can measure and critique. Instead, she encourages parents (and everyone else) to simply focus on the human journey by embracing all its ups and downs and to practice admitting when you’ve made mistakes. Let your own leadership skills be their guide.

Modeling Accountability

“It’s hard to go back and say, you know, ‘I messed up. I wish I’d done it differently,’” Felder points out. “But we want our kids to be able to do that, right?” One of the biggest lessons kids need to learn is how to fail. This includes acknowledging and growing from their mistakes as well as taking accountability for their actions. And they can learn those leadership skills from their parents.

At the heart of accountability is empathy, one of the most essential leadership skills a person can develop. How does someone else feel? How do your actions and behaviors impact them? Kids already know when their parents’ behavior makes them feel negatively, but they need guidance to see how their behavior can make others feel the same way. If parents let their child’s emotions go unacknowledged, it can create a pattern where the child won’t take accountability for how their own actions impact others. Regardless of any obstacles parents may face, one of the most empowering steps toward raising responsible kids is modeling how to take accountability for their own actions.

Treating Children as Whole People

Felder reminds Powell that it’s not just parents who model behavior for children — it’s all adults. How do you interact with kids on a day-to-day basis? “When you go into a store and you see a child, they make eye contact with you. Are you looking away?” Felder asks. “Are you saying ‘hi,’ and keeping it moving? What are you doing?”

She reminds Powell that the way adults respond determines whether kids feel seen and heard, and that affects what they view as normal later on. Recognizing kids as whole people already and interacting with them accordingly models respect, empathy, compassion, and all of the other traits necessary for getting along in the world. Every interaction is a lesson in how to be an adult, as well as how to lead and interact with the rest of our community and the world at large.

Listen to this episode to learn about...

[1:29] What conscious parenting looks like
[5:20] What it takes to raise accountable children
[9:00] Why we must value children as whole people
[11:25] How to handle kids’ “big feelings” in a nurturing and productive way
[17:27] Why age-appropriate language is so important
[23:23] What parents need to know about navigating our increasingly complicated world

Listen to the bonus episode to learn about how children can pick up unspoken values and why self-care is so essential for parents.



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