Once in awhile, I catch myself checking out the shows on television that my 4 year old might be watching at the time. While I believe a little bit of SpongeBob’s optimism isn’t a bad thing, most of the time I find these shows mind numbing. That is, until I started paying attention to see what leadership messages might exist in shows that cater to our children. I was surprised by what I discovered. I found mixed messages in shows that cater to boys versus shows that cater to girls. While leadership lessons were taught in both types of shows, they went about it in a different manner.
For example, in a “girls” show, leadership was considered more of a collaborative effort – everyone showing one another kindness and working together toward a common goal. In a “boys” show, leadership was typically demonstrated by one main character and that individual rallied others around him to handle the crisis at hand.
Do we expect our children to lead in different ways depending upon their gender? Do we expect our boys to take charge and deal with whatever comes their way, while expecting our girls to work together and be nice to one another?
Don’t give up – Such easy words to say, not so easy to believe. At one time or another in our lives, these very words have been spoken to us. And honestly, it is not always easy to believe when things may not go as planned.
Many times we will tell our children the same thing; that anything is possible with hard work and perseverance, and we hope they believe us. Unlike adults, young children still have that sense that they could fly to the moon tomorrow if they wanted to, they don’t consider how difficult an endeavor it could be. At what age do we learn to give up because something may not be easy or practical? How do we keep our children from doing the same thing?
I would be curious to hear what you think?
Maybe the title is a little corny? Yes, I write stories about Ricky the Pirate Dog, but please pardon the analogy! I was thinking about leadership the other day and how it could be related to steering a ship, driving a car, etc. When the waters are calm, or the weather is good, we tend to lead on autopilot – we know what to do and implement it somewhat effortlessly. When the seas are rough or the weather is bad; we really have to consciously think about what we are doing and how our leadership will impact the final outcome. Some leaders become stressed, some go a little crazy, or some will rise to the occasion and lead the group to safer waters.
What about children? How do they lead when the waters get rough? Have we done enough to help pave the way for children to lead through adversity? Do we present a good leadership example to the children around us? If you are one to go a little crazy when faced with a challenging situation, how can you expect a child to do anything different? Think about that the next time you have to steer your ship through bad weather and big waves!
I always find it interesting to look at a group of children and watch how they interact when given a task to do. Many times we do not see how leadership takes on many roles in a group like this. People typically see the gregarious child and automatically label them as the leader. What many do not realize is that there are many facets to leadership; a leader is not just the most charismatic person in the room.
Think about those children who may not say much, but look at the task and try to figure out the best way to approach it. There will be others who will support their friends when they get discouraged because things are not working out as planned. And yes, there will always be the extroverted kids who will speak up and rally the group to charge forward. These are all forms of leadership – whether it is taking the lead by speaking up or supporting one another to get them to where they need to be. Leadership is exhibited in all children, and sometimes it is up to the grown ups to recognize it!
The next story in the Ricky the Pirate Dog series is well under way. “Ricky Leads the Pack” is starting to take shape and it is going to be great! Ricky and his friends are busy preparing for the pirate school carnival. When the kids elect Ricky to organize the class popcorn stand, he creates chaos by confusing leadership with bossing everyone around. Will Ricky understand the true meaning of leadership in time to create a great popcorn stand for the school carnival?
My illustrator Amy, is excited to share a new sketch from “Ricky Leads the Pack”! Watch for more sneak peeks to come!
Today I have decided to embark on a new adventure – dog blogging! No, I am not a talking, blogging dog like the one in that Disney show, I am helping Ricky out since I have opposable thumbs and Ricky cannot type!
After I published my first book, “Ricky the Pirate Dog – Ricky Finds His Voice”, I thought that it would be cool to share my ideas about character-based leadership for children, how Ricky inspires me in my writing, and how the next book is coming along!