With so much focus on what is challenging for our children, it can be hard to see all of his or her strengths. We have been conditioned to look for weaknesses or areas that are mediocre. Our intentions are good and we believe we can “help” our children or students. As parents, we are natural fixers, whether it be a broken bone or a difficult time in school.
In our effort to fix what’s wrong with our children, we often lose sight of what is right with them. We tend to pay less attention to strengths, interests, and talents. Research shows that paying attention to the positive has enormous benefits. Dr. Ned Hallowell, prominent psychiatrist and expert on ADHD explains: “I have learned first and foremost to look for interests, talents, strengths, shades of strengths, or the mere suggestion of a talent. Knowing that a person builds a happy and successful life not on remediated weaknesses but on developed strengths, I have learned to place those strengths at the top of what matters.”
Focusing on strength allows a child to create a positive self image. Engaging in activities where intelligence shines creates importance about what you can do, rather than being defined by what you can’t do. This helps children develop a sense of self-efficacy and leads to positive problem solving.
Below are four steps that can help recognize a child's strengths.
1. Consider different types of strengths: Strengths can be large or small, visible or hidden. Look through this checklist to identify your child's strong areas.
2. Let your child's interests lead the way: Strengths may surface as a child explores varied interests. Supporting a child while they find their strengths and passions (and take healthy risks) can be a self-esteem booster.
A few activities to consider:
- Group sports teach the value of communication, team work and problem solving.
- Music uses many different parts of the brain at once to process rhythm, emotion and movement. There are an abundance of musical ways to shine.
- Art classes allow kids to express themselves and visualize how they see the world. Drawing and painting build motor skills.
3. Talk about strengths: Having an open and honest dialogue about strengths and weaknesses will allow both you and your child to appreciate his or her abilities.
4. Pay attention to your child's strengths and successes: Watch children in action and make a note about what you see, just like you would when observing their challenges. You will proudly be able to say "This is what I saw you do and you did a really good job!"
Every student has a different learning style. For an individualized plan customized to your child's needs, please contact Dana Aussenberg at danaaussenberg.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.