Children in a gang eating candy

There are always leaders and followers in any social setting. We all know what they mean but which one best describes your child?  They may naturally have strong leadership qualities and like taking charge. Or they may like to follow, this shows they have the ability to respect the needs of others.

However, is it good for children join in something or follow an idea or action that has negative connatations? Children should only follow others when it’s appropriate  – they shouldn’t follow the  ‘leader’ if they are being unkind or doing something dangerous or disprespectful.

Show Respect to All

For example, in the playground children playing a game of one-upmanship. The leader puts a child down by saying something disrespectful to them to gain the respect of their friends (followers) and to look powerful.

It makes the ‘victim’ feel rubbish about themselves but they themselves look good in the eyes of their peers. No one wants to be the victim and to stand their ground, the victim joins in the game of one upmanship by coming up with a witty quip.

So, the followers join in this game too and the victim does not escape the wrath of the group.  Now they are being insulted by lots of people instead of one person. And they may feel bullied or ridiculed. The leader and their followers have won.

In this situation children need to know this is not the way to behave. Their peers are people and they have feelings. Banter is one thing but one upmanship is another when it involves cussing and real truths.

We need to teach children to respect others and how they are. They should turn away from this game and not ‘follow the leader’. Talk to your children about this. How would you feel if they were the target?  No matter what their role of leader/follower this is something to be practised at home, to use at school.