Your Child’s Strengths
When we focus on our children strengths and not their weaknesses, we can provide them with confidence and stability for the future. Children are not little generalists; therefore, our parent expectation should be on what your child has a passion for, rather than your passion or the passion you hoped your child would have. The author and Psychologist, Wendy Mogel says, "in the real world there is no room for the generalist except on Jeopardy! Accept your child’s flaws and encourage her to follow their interests and help foster their strengths.
A Few Ways to Build Your Child’s Strengths
- Encourage your child/children to play, observe and explore to find what they enjoy. Yes, that means putting down the electronic device and using that time to engage and interact with another human or the environment. It also means joining new clubs or trying new activities to ‘try and see’ if it is an area of interest. For example, photography, piano, painting, drawing, soccer, etc. In the long run that is where they will find happiness and fulfillment.
- Once you and your child have identified their area of strength or passion, build it. Try to stay away from gearing your child in a direction that they are clearly not showing an interest in. For example, if your child has the talent to be a horse jockey, you would not want to encourage him to build his science background in an effort to enter into the field of medicine. When we ignore a child’s natural strengths and force greater achievements on them, it can hinder their true spirit, which can result in a stifling of interests, worry and unhappiness.
- Identify your child’s strengths in discussion with him (e.g., You’re a really great out of the box thinker. In our house, you’re going to be the person I go to when I am struggling to solve a problem. You find unique and new ways to think about the problem and solutions). In general, have discussions with your family, casual ones in the car or at the dinner table. This helps to also build your child’s sense of self, identity and confidence.
As we all know it to be true, “the days of parenthood are long, but the years are fast.” Create a home environment of positivity that focuses on strengths rather than weaknesses. Make it a point to give your child 3 praises each day (morning, evening, night). For example, “Thank you for putting your shoes in the closet. Thank you for helping to clear the table,” instead of “Your shoes are out in the middle of the living room again? Can’t you ever just put your plate in the sink?” It’s so easy to point out the negative, but it takes the same amount of energy to say something positive. That positivity will also help to build a greater bond between you and your child.
Here’s to finding your children’s strengths, building them up, and making them strong!