Personality Makes the Person

How can parents shift their focus from talent-based skills and identify and develop personality-based skills in their children?

My son is not good at sports, and my daughter shows no sign of musical sense. My son is very good at math, and my daughter can draw really well.

These are the replies I often get when I ask my clients what they think their children’s strengths are. One client even told me with conviction that her son is not good at anything.

It is much easier for parents to identify talent-based skills such as sports, music or art because they are driven by performance. It is much harder for parents to identify character-based skills such as leadership, fairness or empathy because they are less visible. Yet, both sets of skills are of equal importance.

It can impact a child’s development in the long run if parents fail to, or put uneven emphasis on, talent-based skills only. Strengths are more than just good performance.

According to the Institute on Character (VIA Character Strengths), there are at least 24 different character strengths that people have. Having a child who is exceptional at the piano or at drawing is a joy that all parents love. What about the sibling of this child who does not have the same talent-based skill? How can we as parents celebrate the different strengths that our children possess?

Strength-based parents give an equal amount of attention to both sets of skills when helping their children discover their strengths. They recognize, value and respect individuality. Often, one of the key elements of sibling rivalry springs from the fact that parents put unfair emphasis on the different strengths that their children have.

In some context, character strengths carry more weight than talent-based strengths as they are like tools that children need in their life journey. For example, if resilience is one of the top five character strengths that your child has, it means they are more capable than their peers in dealing with challenges. They understand challenges are part of the process of growing up.

I work with many young athletes who are outstanding at the sport they excel in but some, if not most, lack the resilience that is needed in the growth of a good athlete. Do you know what sets apart the top 1 percent of professional athletes from the rest of the athletes in the world?

Stephan Curry’s basketball career was built on resilience. He was not recruited to an elite Division I basketball program for college nor was he a top-five pick in the NBA draft. But he stayed determined by practicing and putting in the time. He is now a two-time MVP, a three-time NBA champion, a six-time NBA All-Star and widely considered to be the greatest shooter of all time.

Interested in Positive Parenting? Contact Sandy Sinn by WeChat at Sandyparent.