The Power of Parental Influence – How Parents Influence Behavior & Self-Leadership

Power of parental influence

Parents, never doubt or diminish your ability to influence your child or teen’s behavior and self-leadership through the power of parental iInfluence.  A child or teen, properly influenced, will develop the ability to not only to lead themselves, but to lead their peers as well.  However, parents, it starts with your leadership. And the leadership of the mentors which you allow into your child or teen’s life. They are important as well. When you find an effective teacher, coach, Sunday school teacher, or other mentors, establish a relationship with them. Partner with your child’s mentor to positively influence your son or daughter.

Parents here is some great parenting advice. Leadership is simply you positively influencing your son or daughter.  Let me give you an example of positive influencing. Each summer I work with a group of teens at a leadership camp in Oklahoma.  When the young men graduate the camp, they will have earned a saber with their name and favorite scripture engraved upon it.   I and my assistant camp commander, who we call Graybeard, teach them servant leadership. We also teach them how to drill and march with their saber.  It is all silent drill with no cadence called.  It is essentially one big team building evolution, as they not only learn a routine, but how to work with each other.

Graybeard and I, both tell and demonstrate what is expected. Then we allow the teens to do it themselves.  Without a doubt some, if not all, will say how frustrated they are. How they will never learn the routine. Graybeard and I are patient. We explain, demonstrate and have them do it over and over until a key segment of the routine clicks in their actions. And when it does, that is when things really get interesting. I stop them in their tracks and have them fall in in front of me. This is when my “I believed in you, even when you didn’t” speech starts. Loudly, I go up and down the line praising each and everyone for their part in making the particular section of the routine work. 

One by one I repeated what that individual said they could not do, but ended up doing well.  I told them how Graybeard and I always believed in them.  They only had to believe in themselves.  Then we ask them what they were waiting for? Get back out there and show us again why we are right to believe in you. It’s basically a very loud, personal praise fest where we positively wind them up and set them back to the task at hand.  And it works every time.  The teens will jog back to the parade field and repeat the routine. 

When mistakes are made, they are the ones to catch it, explain how to do it correctly, demonstrate the correct way to do it and try again.  They often praise and edify each other.  Graybeard and I find a comfortable chair to pass the time.  Eventually a teen will run up and want to show us how the team is doing.  By graduation day, the routine has come together and they contribute it all to myself and Graybeard.  We have to remind them we only showed the way. We led them through influence. Then they made the journey to success by influencing each other and leading themselves.

And it is important to take the time to identify the mentors in your child’s life and team up with them to influence your child or teen.  When I was a pre-teen, I had a wonderful mentor in a boy/teen Christian mentorship program called Royal Rangers.  Between my dad and my Royal Ranger leader, I could not get away with anything.  They exchanged verbal notes on me on a regular basis.  I was positively influenced coming and going.  I did not make it easy on either one of them.  I frustrated both of them many times.  Never-the-less, they never stopped being a positive influence and I eventually learned to led myself and others.

My father and my Royal Ranger leader established a very solid foundation for me.  And even with all the temptations and distractions of this world; I never strayed too far from the path of common sense. Even when I left home and joined the military.  And when I did find myself straying from the path, there was that strong lighthouse. The one my father and Royal Ranger commander had established a lighthouse upon a strong foundation. 

The light from that lighthouse was the memory of what they had taught me and of what they had lived out by personal example.  Today, I’m a Royal Ranger leader.  I explain, show and allow my boys and teens to lead. Then I, publicly, acknowledge excellence the moment (or not too long after).  I have adults who are amazed when they see a junior high pre-teen take charge of a group of elementary aged boys.  And that the boys actually obey and follow the pre-teen. Parents working with their child’s mentors is an important element in your child and teen pathway to becoming self-led.

Parents, single parents, guardians, grand parents, foster parents, etc. I want to challenge you today to set a new standard for yourselves. Use the power of parental iInfluence with your child..  Determine in your mind that you are going to be a daily positive influence on your child. Take the time and build the patience to explain how to do things.  Demonstrate what you want done and then have them do it. 

And when, they get it right let them know it.  They may not have put the dishes and pots away like you would.  But they are not you. The main point was it done.  Take the time to positively acknowledge all the things that went right.  Then work with them on what could be better and how you know they are going to get it right. How you are looking forward to when they get it just right. And parent, in the end, if you take a step back; the way they organized the dishes & pots and pans may actually be more efficient than your way.

Parents, Leadership Develops Daily, Not in a Day

parenting advice

When we speak or hear about leadership, many will immediately think of the work place, as well as various charity groups like: churches, civic organizations, youth organizations, etc. And while many of these places do practice leadership, there is another important area of our lives where leadership should be practiced, the family.  Some of the best parenting advice anyone could give you is on the importance of leadership development in the home.  Hopefully, by the end of this article you will know that anyone can learn to become a leader, that leadership is all about the process and that the time to learn and practice leadership is today, not tomorrow.

  • The first piece of parenting advice is that everyone is capable of learning leadership skills and practicing those leadership skills. This includes your children. Granted a 5 year old would not have the same capacity level as a teenager, regarding leadership, but both can be taught the skills to be self-led.  In fact you want your 5, 6, 7…year old to begin taking steps to become self-led, but more on that later.  It is important to the child to see leadership modeled by the parent.  In other words, the parents actions and accompanying words, greatly influences what a child learns. Every child is like a sponge when it comes to learning. If the parent is living out leadership via their actions and words the child will soak it up. They will soak up the positive or negative influences seen and heard in your daily example at home. And because kids are learning sponges, they are going to soak up things which will effect their self image.  How they see themselves in this world. And if your child is not learning from you or you are not pouring leadership traits into them; then they will take their directions from someone else. And that someone else might not share your values. So take control over your child’s leadership development, with the knowledge they can be a self-led leader.
  • The second piece of parenting advice is that, while leadership is a complex skill, learning leadership is all about the process, parents.  Meaning it will not happen overnight and you children are not going to be perfect at it. And to be clear, it is not a matter of “if” they will make mistakes & missteps, but rather when. John C. Maxwell said, “This is true for the development of any skill. really .. and it’s particularly true of leadership .. it’s a process .. it evolves .. you don’t read one book and become a great leader overnight. You don’t attend one training program and become a great leader overnight. It takes time and commitment and a certain investment in yourself to develop your leadership skills.”  Like, Rome, your child’s leadership won’t be built in a day. It will take years, so be patient.  And parents don’t overlook your own need for leadership development. Also, none of us can ever know everything, so personal leadership growth should be ongoing. After all, you are a primary example to each of your children. If you make the investment in yourself as a parent leader, you can pour out your leadership example into each one of your children. This will result in both parent and child enhancing their respective leadership skills. 
  • The last piece of parenting advice is that the time to engage in developing leadership skills is today. In his book Today Matters, Maxwell says, “The only guarantee about tomorrow being better is if you do something today.” Therefore if you want to guarantee that your child’s leadership skills grow, along with those in your household, then you must start today. Again, leadership is a learnable complex skill that takes time to develop. And just because it takes time does not mean that you should take your time to begin starting the process. Tomorrow, next week, a year, 5 years are not guaranteed to any of us living today, so start now! Besides, that 5 year old will soon be 11 and then 18 years old, so get started now. And if you have a pre-teen or teen, don’t let their age stop you. They can still learn from you and be guided by you, even as you are developing your own personal leadership skills.

Again, I believe these three points are some of the best parenting advice regarding teaching your son or daughter to be self-led. There’s an old saying but it’s every bit as true today as it was when I was a kid, success occurs when preparation meets opportunity. Preparing  your child, in the home, to become self-led prepares them for life’s opportunities. Therefore put your processes in place now, so each child of yours, can embrace opportunity when it presents itself.  We all have the capacity to lead, but it takes a long, and consistent process to develop the complex skills needed for leadership. And it is a process we parents must initiate in the home and give children, pre-teens and teens the space to practice being self-led. And the space needed for recovery and growth from the inevitable errors and  missteps they will make. 

The Power of High Expectations – 2 Key Parental Tips For Today’s Parents

Power of high expectations

Parents, each one of us, as leaders in our home, has some level of expectation when it comes to one of our children, one of our teens.  Even if it is a negative expectation or no expectation whatsoever (which in itself is a negative expectation). What is your expectation for your children and/or your teens? Are they positive or are they negative.  Do your expectations arise from your personal desires or are they based on the gifts you see in your child or teen?  I wish to discuss the power of expectations, establishing an environment for high expectations through your own servant leadership in your home.

Parents one of the primary steps you can take to establish an environment, in your family, for high expectations is to exercise control over the words that your son or daughter hears from others. Like it or not, when you, I or anyone hears either a positive or negative description about us; it imprints a picture upon our mind about ourselves. John C. Maxwell, in his latest book “A Leader’s Greatest Return” says, “People often become what the most important influencers in their lives think and say they will become. If people you care about tell you how terrible you are, you’re going to have a difficult time rising up to a better life. If you’re told every day that you can’t lead, you probably won’t even try. But when people believe in you and communicate it repeatedly, you gain confidence and try harder.”

Many adults, even with all their life experiences, still have a difficult time with negative descriptions of themselves by others. Can you imagine what it is like for a child or teen, who does not have life experiences to fall back on? Thus you, I and every parent has to be careful as to the words used to describe our sons and daughters. And parents you have to be vigilant of what is said to your child outside your home.  Meaning you have to be observant of the negative descriptive words spoken to your child by a coach, teacher, or other adult leader.

If a child or teen is described often enough as stupid, worthless, ugly, etc., these negative words will imprint bleak pictures of themselves upon their minds. Likewise. a parent or mentor asking a child or teen why they can’t be more like (another student, brother, sister, cousin, etc.) Those bleak pictures often places a lid or boundary of low expectations and limits their personal development. It creates a negative image inside of them. They figure that if this is how they are seen by parents or those in authority, the negative image must be who they truly are.  As such, this negative image becomes a self for filling prophecy.  There is a technical term for this called the Pygmalion Effect.  The Pygmalion Effect is a phenomenon in which children, teens, and even adults increase or decrease their level of personal development depending on the level of expectation of others. As such, parents, teachers, mentors, etc. your expectations weld a great deal of influence over the level of performance of a child or teen.

So how do you as a parent build an environment of high expectations in your family?  You build it on a foundation of servant leadership in the home. J. A. Laub, describes servant leadership as, “Leadership which develops people by providing opportunities for learning and growth, modeling appropriate behavior, and by building up others through encouragement and affirmation.  So let us take a look at all three of Laub’s suggestions.

  • Regarding the first point, parents you have to be the type of leader, in the home, that provides opportunities for learning and growth for each child.  Every child and teen are going to make mistakes.  They are going to fall short, but every mistake and shortfall is a teaching opportunity. And negative descriptors are counter productive to learning and personal growth.  We can firmly correct and discipline our children without name calling. After all, discipline comes from the word disciple which means to mentor or teach another. Ensure you get them to own their mistakes by asking them what went wrong, what did they learn from it, how should you fix this and what’s the best way to not repeat the mistake again?  And do not be so caught up in the mistake parents that you do not see the positives in a situation. For example, the teen may have made a poor choice, but their heart was in the right place. You want your child to act out of good motives of the heart and to be able to make the proper choice to do so when appropriate.
  • Parents, you have to model the type of behavior you wish to see. Let each child know you hold yourself to a high standard by applying your unique gifts to be the best you can be every day.  Likewise you wish for them to apply their unique gifts to be the best they can be each day.  One time my dad raise his hand above his head and told me that he knew I had the ability to perform at this level. Then he would bring his hand down to his knee and tell me this is why he never lets me perform at this level. He told me I had too much going for me to ever allow me to get away with existing beneath what I was capable of.  Not what he, my father or anyone else was capable of, but what he knew I was uniquely capable of.  And because my dad modeled this, I now do the same with my children, as well as, the kids & teens I mentor and coach today.
  • Lastly, you have to build your children up through encouragement and affirmation.  Now I’m not saying to have a praise fest  or throw a party each time your child does something.  However, when your child makes noticeable strides in the direction your guiding them towards, affirm them for it immediately whenever possible.  Then encourage them to do more of the same. Your words of affirmation and praise are going to be imprinted on your child’s self image.  In doing so you are providing your son or daughter the best opportunity for positive personal development in self-confidence, self-discipline, and wisdom.

Robert Greenleaf, father of modern servant-leadership, once ask these questions: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? Parents be the servant leaders of your family. And set high expectations by serving each and every child through words of affirmation, wise discipline, and modeling positive behavior for them. And to do so in such a fashion your child will develop a self image of being healthier, wiser, freer,  and more autonomous servant leaders.

3 Highly Effective Ways To Improve Your Child’s Leadership Skills

children and leadership skills, teens and leadership skills, improving child behavior, improving teen behavior

#1 New York Times bestselling author John C. Maxwell brings his common sense self-help lessons to teens!

Any setback–a championship loss, a bad grade, a botched audition-can be seen as a step forward when teens possess the right tools and leadership skills to turn that loss into a gain of knowledge. Drawing on nearly fifty years of leadership experience, Dr. Maxwell provides a roadmap for becoming a true learner, someone who wins in the face of problems, failures, and losses

Parents there are many ways to enhance your child’s leadership level.  However, I want to focus on 3 highly effective ways to improve your child’s leadership skills.  You have to take advantage of home field, take charge of away games and take the time to explain the rules. I will walk you through and explain the importance of taking home field advantage.  How to make the most out of when your child is involved in away games (activities outside the home).  And the importance of both explaining and ensuring your child understands basic rules of life.

  1. Parents you need to play an active role in mentoring and assisting your children in the choice of those they play and hang out with.  This is best done on your home field. Parents, home field is your home.  You are there everyday.  It is the place both you and your kids live, eat and sleep.  Invite your children’s friends over to your home or yard for play time, activities, to work on school work, etc. so you can get to know your child’s friends.

    Now it is not going to be the most convenient thing to do. Home field can be loud, messy, demanding and infringe on your personal time.  I so get it, believe me I do. But think about it. Home is the best place to positively influence your son or daughter’s interactions with their friends.  This is much harder to do when your child is playing away from home. Outside your home you lose home field advantage and diminish your overall influence on your child’s interactions with others. Be the influencer and make play, homework, sleep overs or whatever the activity, a home field event. From you your child will learn to positively influence others.  And if your child is positively influencing others, they are moving well along the path of self leadership.
  2. Now while home is best, not every game is played on home field.  So mom, dad, grand parents, guardians, you have to take charge of away games.  Specifically, you need to place them in areas where they will have a chance to interact with adult mentor leaders who can inspire them.  I have a friend, who works with me in the Royal Ranger ministry.  Royal Rangers is a christian mentorship program created for boys and young men. Some of the kids call him Big Daddy Bill.  And he is that, a fatherly mentor to his young charges. He regularly challenges them to be the best they can be. He also holds them accountable for how they lead themselves. Parents place their sons into this program for its positive mentorship and its ability to teach leadership skills. Also, because the program helps develop their sons into the next generation of servant leaders.

    Joel Olsteen has said, “You need to associate with people that inspire you, people that challenge you to rise higher, people that make you better. Don’t waste your valuable time with people that are not adding to your growth. Your destiny is too important.” Parents, choose wisely where your child spends time away from home.  Engage them with mentors who can inspire them, as well as, affirm your family values. The foundation of your child’s life is being laid down here and now.  It is from this foundation that everything they can be, will be built upon.  Let’s not limit their leadership foundation.  Expand your child’s opportunities to become positively self led. Give them every opportunity to be around positive examples, so they can hear, see and learn from successful leaders. 
  3. We’ve touched on two of the 3 highly effective ways to improve your child’s leadership skills. The third way is this, Parents you need to teach your children the rules of the game. You have teach basic manners and how to behave. Rest assure, if you don’t teach your child how to behave, the world will.  More times than not, it won’t be the type of behavior you wish your child to emulate. If normal looks like being rude, disrespectful, discourteous, bad tempered, a bully, or any combination there of, this is what your child will likely gravitate downwards to.  Children need to know that it is abnormal to be rude, disrespectful, discourteous, bad tempered, and or a bully. 

    Solomon, King of Isreal said, “Though you may be wise, foolish friends will eventually destroy you. Though you may be foolish, wise friends will show and teach you success. This is an easy way to prosper.” Poor choices in friends and acquittances will have an eventual adverse affect on your child. A poor choice never enhances anything.  A foolish choice only has the power to lessen or destroy, never the power to prosper  This is what Solomon meant when he said foolish friends will eventually destroy you. And the same can be said in modern times. Vanilla Ice, a former pop icon and current DIY (Do It Yourself) TV host once stated, “Show me your friends and I would show you who your are.

    So, parents, who are your children? Are they the foolish ones or the wise ones? The answer, parents, has a lot to do with your influence as their parents. If you wish for them to grow to be the “wise ones” then influence who your kids to hang out with. Be watchful for those “friends” who regularly drift towards or revel in bad behavior. Such negative acquaintances will limit your child’s self leadership success. John C. Maxwell says, “Leadership ability determines a person’s level of effectiveness.” If your child cannot lead themselves, learn to respect others, be courteous, control their temper, and add value to others; they limit their overall effectiveness as future leaders. 

 The 3 highly effective ways to improve your child’s leadership skills are: Take advantage of home field by influencing your child and their friends in your home or yard; take charge of away games by placing your child where they can learn from positive adult mentor leaders; and take the time to ensure your child knows the rules of the game.  When you as parents and guardians take charge by playing an active role in mentoring your child, you are growing their ability to self lead.

Transformational Leadership: Parents You Can’t Lead Your Children Where You’ve Not Gone Yourselves

“We can’t lead farther than we have gone ourselves”  John C Maxwell

Have you ever needed  to get to a certain location like a store, a restaurant, or a doctor’s office, but you are not 100 percent sure of where it was. You may even have a general idea of where it is located. But, you cannot recall the exact directions on how to get there?  You may even be confident you could get there if you had to, but it may take a while to get you bearings.  I mean you can ask for directions or even research the route using various GPS or map apps, but where is the sense of adventure in that?

Parents, when it comes to leadership, it is difficult to find your way unless you get directions.  And if you are going to mentor your children in leadership and direct them towards positive growth, you have to go there first.  John C. Maxwell says, “We can’t lead father than we have gone ourselves.”  Thus if you have not grown your leadership, it makes it difficult to take your child where you have not ventured yourself.

So what steps do you need to take in order to enhance your personal development as a leader, so you can guide your child on their leadership journey?  The steps are not always easy, but all four steps calls for consistency on the part of the parent or guardian. They are: Expand, Explain, Experience and Encourage.

Expand –  Expand calls for expanding your own personal development.  Parents lead by example. Again, you will have great difficulty taking your children where you have not gone yourself.  And to expand yourself, you have to be aware of where you are in your growth and development, before you can chart out where you want to go.  Robert Greenlieaf (Founder of modern day servant leadership movement) noted another special aspect of awareness. Greenleaf says, “Awareness also aids one in understanding issues involving ethics and values. It lends itself to being able to view most situations from an integrated, holistic position.”  As you expand your personal growth and development, as a leader, you can begin to pour that knowledge into your children, as you explain leadership concepts to your children. This is key in element in how parents influence child behavior.

Explain – If your child is going to learn how to take control of their lives as a leader and add value to others, you are going to have to explain to them what a leader is, along with, the values important to being a good leader.  And it needs to be in such a way they can imagine themselves as a leader. And it would not hurt for you to add to their imagination by helping them dream cast about what type of servant leader they can be now as a child, teen and as an adult.  Robert Greenleaf tells us, “For any thing to emerge there must first be a dream, an imaginative view of what might be. For something great to happen, there must be a great dream.

Experience – Your child needs to experience your leadership.  They need to see you model it. They need to see you put it into action on regular basis. I once heard John Maxwell say, “You should keep your bar of excellence high.  Never lower the bar on yourself and always raise it with others.” I remember when my children were young. I took them grocery shopping with me. We had a great time. When I got home, I discovered the cashier had not charged us for all of our items.  I gathered my children into the car and took my receipt and the unpaid items to the store.  I found the manager and explained the situation to him.  I told him I wanted my kids to see me do the right thing.  The manager told my kids they should always be honest like their father and follow his example.  I’m far from perfect and my kids will tell you the same.  But the grocery store manager’s words really hit home, with me.  And I was reminded that my example; the way I model my life before them would be critical in how my children would eventually live their lives.

Encourage –  You have more control over your child or teen’s environment at home than you do when they are in school or with friends. You need to encourage your child to seek out friends with positive self leadership traits or they may gravitate to hang out with friends or peers who have low leadership levels of self-leadership and defective moral compasses. But again you have to model a Leadership level your child/teen can aspire to.  Or you risk them spiraling down to dwell within the realm of lower expectations of pseudo friends and thus limiting their overall leadership capacity. Jim Burns, a writer with CBN wrote, “Knowing your teen’s friends will definitely provide insight into the morals and family values that are influencing your son or daughter. In the process of getting to know your teen’s friends, you will learn a lot about your own daughter or son as well.” One of the best was to know your son or daughters  friends is to open your home to them. Invite your child’s friends to play, do homework, have sleep overs, etc., at your home where you can get to know their friends.

Again, the steps do you need to take in order to enhance your personal development as a leader, as well as, your parenting skills as a parent or guardian, so you can guide your child on their leadership journey. While not always easy, all four steps: Expanding, Explaining, Experiencing and Encouraging will call for consistency on our part to raise the next generation of leaders. 

Children Spell Love – T I M E

How can we best use time to influence a child

Work days will come and go. Life’s situations will come and go. Even our friends and associates will  come and go, but family and your children forever. They may drive us crazy at times, but there’s no doubt the time we spend with our children play an integral role in influencing their lives. For many, family is everything and there’s nothing better than spending time with child. When life gets busy, it’s important to pause and enjoy some family time with each child.

In what ways, can we as parents, use time as a positive means to influence our children?