Four Secrets to Leading Kids for Teachers and Parents


Tim Elmore offers four practical ways to prepare children for adulthood.

1. Enlist your kids in their own growth.

Effective parents I know allow their children (ages 8 and up) to choose their own rewards and punishments. Our instinct is to seize control and order our kids around, but that hasn’t worked too well for many. When we enlist our kids in their own upbringing or class regiment, we give them skills for life. Teachers can do the same thing in class. Let students and their peers choose rewards and disciplines, and let them become judge and jury for each other. This helps them “own” it.

2. Get creative in conflict resolution.

When students hit a speed bump with each other and conflict arises, they often resort to a “my way or the highway” mindset. Why not follow the example of many effective teachers and parents who’ve adapted a conflict resolution process from the Harvard Negotiation Project, used in peace talks and union strikes:

  • Separate the kids for a few minutes to let the emotions calm a bit.
  • Encourage them to come up with two to three solutions, not just their own.
  • Vote on a winner, involving both peers and caring adults. 

3. Connect them with their heritage.

Some families I know play a little game called, “Do You Know?” At a meal, they ask, “Do you know where your grandparents grew up?” Or, “Do you know how your parents met?” Or, “Do you know someone in your family who overcame a life or death hardship?” This is not only amusing, but it connects them with their past. Teachers can do the same type of thing with classmates, other faculty or coaches. It’s a healthy exercise helping a “Touch Screen” generation take a break from Google. 

4. Create environments for them to connect with adults.

Did you know that the majority of a teen’s time each week is spent with peers, not adults? As kids grow, they spend less time with the demographic they will need to know how to connect with as they become adults. So, why not plan parties that adults attend, but have kids host them? Or, set up mentoring meals where your student can meet an adult who has a job in the field they want to enter. These inter-generational connections cultivate emotional intelligence in kids and enable them to feel more comfortable with future bosses.

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