Okay, we have to admit that parenting is a constant struggle, sometimes it is a really fun and enriching experience and there are times that you see the worst of your kids.
All of us would agree that as a parent, we are uniquely placed to see their strengths and to identify what those strengths are and how your teen can use them.
Professor Lea Waters emphasized the benefits of strength-based parenting backed up by her research and worth checking out her book, The Strength Switch, where we as parents focus on our children’s strengths rather than always trying to correct their weaknesses. Most parents struggle with this shift because they suffer from a negative bias and see their worst side.
To find out our children’s strengths, it requires us to watch their behaviors and dig deeper – what their talents and abilities are, as well as who they are and how they act in various situations.
The key benefit of strength-based parenting is that a teenager who knows their strengths and continues being reminded, will have stronger self-worth, and be more positive in any situation and resilient. Strengths are not dependent on anyone or anything but it is a big part of who they are.
A good example of a strength here is kindness – someone who is kind is kind to everyone, as opposed to just being nice to the people they want to impress.
If you are looking for language around strength, we strongly recommend the Free online VIA character strengths survey.
VIA (Values In Action) Character Strength Survey which has 24 common values of humans developed by professors Martin Seligman and Chris Peterson ranks character strengths from highest to lowest.
Here is a list of 24 common values.
- Appreciation of Beauty and Elegance
- Love of Learning
- Self Regulation
- Social Intelligence
This weakness-based parenting is understandable. We want the best for our children, so we keep telling them how the world works and how to improve their weaknesses to behave in a way acceptable in our society. If we don’t do it, they may fall behind in their developmental milestones in any certain areas.
So, our intentions are good. The question is if this is the best way for our children.
Strength-based parenting also focuses on children learning how the world works and the expectations set on them by the society we live in. But it does it through not their weakness but their strengths.
Instead of reminding children, “You are not enough,” strength-based parenting reminds them, “You have unique admirable strengths” and “You have what it takes to get whatever outcome you want.”
Strength-based parenting helps children to understand what they are good at and improve upon it. It involves parents and their children discussing their strengths.
Okay, it sounds great, and I understand the benefit. How do I do it in my daily life?
Great question and there are many ways and here is an example.
Step #1) If you have not already found out their strengths, please do the free online survey at least, VIA character strengths survey.
Step #2) Select one strength a week for each of your children. It can be bravery, curiosity, love of learning, persistence, or any other strength from the list. Pay closer attention to your child during the following week and reflect on the situations in which they used the chosen strength.
Step #3) At the end of the week, sit down with your child and tell them of the strength you admire in them and give examples of how they used the strength that you observed last week.
Step #4) Continue giving them your feedback as you notice them in daily life while they use their strengths. This will reinforce their awareness of their strength and help them to realize more often and continue sharpening their strengths.
Step #5) When they have any struggle or setback they encounter, ask them how they can use their strength to overcome the setback. You do not need to give your suggestions straightaway but let them think and come up with their options based on the strengths they are aware of.
When they do something wrong, do not scold them but ask them what strength they could use next time or how to use it differently to get better results.
How does it sound? It can be a daunting task since we as parents are used to pointing out what children have done wrong and telling them what to do. Yes, it is a hard habit but children will love the new approach and it will certainly help them to develop the unique strengths that will enrich their life ahead of them.
We sincerely hope you enjoy reading and take action on strength-based parenting and make a positive difference in your child’s life.