I will never forget my first parent teacher conference where I was the parent and not the teacher.
It was Rooney’s first year of preschool, and I went into that meeting reminding myself that it was just preschool. Her teacher explained that, for the most part, things were going well.
She did bring up the fact that there is some ‘ebb and flow’ of friendships happening between my girl and the other girls in the Panda Bear class.
A lot of the normal stuff.
Friends one day. Not as close of friends the next.
Playing in the sandbox together at morning recess and, by the afternoon, a group of girls is scampering around playing Doggy Tag while one lonely puppy wags her tail despairingly over by the tire swing.
Even though this is normal behavior, it got me thinking.
How do we raise girls who will notice when someone is in need of love and kindness and then step in to do something about it?
“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another.”
Hebrews 10: 24-25
Let’s start by teaching our girls that leadership is so much more than simply being in charge or telling people what to do. One of the most important skills every great leader needs is the ability to give support, confidence and hope to others, otherwise known as encouragement.
God wants us to encourage — to inspire others and incite them to action.
The word ‘encouragement’ literally means to ‘put courage’ in somebody.
So how do we do it? Here are three simple steps to begin teaching this skill.
First, have a conversation with your daughter about a time when you were struggling and someone encouraged you. Talk to her about what you were facing. Who was the person who came alongside you? What did this person say to you? What did they do to fill you up, to put courage in you? How did it make you feel?
Second, grab a journal. Make a list of areas in her life where she feels like God is calling her to encourage others. In the classroom. On the playground. At her team’s practices or during games. Clubs or activities at school. Whether it’s within a group of her peers or one-on-one with a friend or family member, developing her skill of encouragement is essential for her leadership journey. Roleplay a few scenarios together.
- Someone in her class is experiences a hardship
- Her sibling is embarrassed about something that happened at the bus stop
- A neighbor two doors down has trouble connecting with other kids on the street.
- Her soccer team is playing the #1 ranked team in the county on Saturday.
What are some words she can say or choices she can make that would fill the person or people involved with courage? Identify a few verbal and nonverbal ways she can encourage in each of these scenarios.
Third, pray together for the Lord to guide her in developing this skill. Ask God to increase your daughter’s trust in Him and elevate her confidence to lead others by putting courage in them with her words and actions.
Help her understand that being a good leader means doing the work God wants her to do, but it also means encouraging those around her to do the same.
I’d love to hear how these conversations go with your girls. Be sure to leave a comment below and let me know!
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