Ron Clark is one of People magazine’s “Heroes of the Year.” He is a humble, yet dynamic man who has influenced many children to succeed in school and in life. Ron Clark is a teacher. This is no surprise to me. The happiest and healthiest families I know have a parent who is a teacher in spirit. Such a parent provides leadership by balancing structure, high expectations, and a sense of fun and enjoyment for their family. These families seem to have strong bonds and fewer power struggles. Their ability to bounce back from hardship tends to build skills in family members and reinforce collaboration, regardless of the struggles that they face.
Having just finished reading The Excellent 11: Qualities Teachers and Parents Use to Motivate, Inspire, and Educate Children, by Ron Clark; I want to encourage you to inventory these leadership qualities in your parenting.
- Enthusiasm. Parenting is not passive. Share your interests and abilities with your children, be verbal about your excitement, and you will both learn from the exchange.
- Adventure. Planning a family trip to the grocery store can be an adventure if you think about making the ordinary extraordinary.
- Creativity. Flexible thinking is key to helping your child solve problems from preschool through high school. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box.
- Reflection. Families with a sense of history—through shared memories, photos, or traditions—build a legacy.
- Balance. The time to be your kid’s best friend is not while you are raising them. Have the courage to lead without losing your sense of emotional connection.
- Compassion. Growing up is hard. Acknowledging your child’s positive and negative feelings helps them learn to empathize with others.
- Confidence. Kids need experience to gain wisdom. Preparing your children to meet new challenges encourages them to make smart use of their opportunities.
- Humor. The ability to laugh at our own mistakes, and appropriately express joy and laughter during stressful times is an incredible gift.
- Common Sense. As a parent, it is easy to take for granted the skills you need to be successful. Organization, time management, and preparing ahead for projects are not common sense skills to kids. Teach what you know!
- Appreciation. Be a role model of gratitude both inside and outside of your home.
- Resilience. Learn when to say “no” to optional demands that drain your time or energy away from your family. Demonstrate that taking care of self is not selfish, it empowers us to give more to our priorities—our families.
All families face problems. Identifying and strengthening these qualities in your parental leadership will not magically ward off all obstacles to raising successful kids. However, you will be better equipped to deal with whatever challenges are presented to your family when you have the tools of excellence to lead through the “teachable moments” in life.
You can learn more about Ron Clark by visiting his website at RonClarkAcademy.com.
Dr. Lisa Marotta is a psychologist within the offices of Paul Tobin, Ph.D., PC, and Ann Benjamin, M.Ed., Inc. Her private practice includes young children, teens, adults and families. She is a consultant to local schools, and a frequent public speaker.