Know the Elements of Strength in Your Children

Just because your child is good at something does not mean it is a strength they want to use. Know how to identify your child’s true strengths.

It is important to know that being good at something is only half the equation. Parents need to look beyond what their children are good at if the goal is to empower them to discover and develop their strengths and talents.

Three key elements are used to identify true strengths.

The first element is performance. This shows that a skill is performed at above average levels and the aspect of behavior or action is mature. For example, a child who protects other children being bullied in school has a strength in empathy.

The second element is energy. When our children cannot stop talking about how much they enjoy what they are doing, it is a true strength. The language they use to describe what they love doing is a clear indication for parents to know that they are motivated and engaged in it. For example, a child spends hours playing and practicing baseball despite the heat. Every time they talk to their friends about baseball, they get more and more excited.

The third element is use. Use is shown when your child is motivated and engaged in a skill they are not only good at but enjoy doing and want to do more and more. They choose to engage rather than being told to do so.

For the skill to be called a true strength, a person must have a combination of all three of these elements and not just one or the other. For example, a teenager who is very popular and vocal in school but is not willing to give their time to take up any leadership role, does not have leadership as a true strength. It does not mean they are not a good student or unkind person.

Strength-based parents look for an intersection of high performance, high energy and high use in the qualities and talents expressed in their children. When we find them, we know we have unearthed true strengths in our children. With effort, our children are eager to use their strengths and put them to positive use.

Once we understand the key elements that distinguish strengths from more normal behaviors, we can use this understanding to unlock our child’s potential and build their wellbeing. Simply understanding strengths increases self-confidence.

I encourage all parents to take the time to observe their children and look for clues such as a skill or behavior they improve quickly. A skill and behavior in which they are excited and motivated to use the strength is the first step in Strength Spotting, which I will talk about in my next article.

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