It is natural for parents to focus on the things their child doesn’t do well and to spend time trying to help them improve in these areas.
But focusing less on weaknesses and more on strengths could hold the key to his success.
Strength-based parenting is a positive psychology approach that aims to help parents unlock their child’s potential and improve their wellbeing.
Strength-based parenting expert, Professor Lea Waters, Director of the Centre for Positive Psychology at the University of Melbourne and author of The Strength Switch, believes connecting children’s inborn strengths, such as strengths of character and personality traits, with pursuits, such as sporting or musical ability, allows them to tap into the inner resources that help boost life satisfaction.
While it’s often believed that a strength is simply something someone is good at, her research identifies three elements of a strength:
1. Performance: Something a child is good at
2. Energy: Something that leaves a child feeling energised and motivated
3. Use: A child will naturally choose to use that strength
Your son may be good at something, but if he doesn’t feel motivated to do it or doesn’t do it often, then it’s not considered a strength. Strengths may relate to sport, academics or music, but they can also be related to character traits such as kindness, resilience and humour.
Here are five ways to help your son play to his strengths:
1. Say it
If you see your son displaying a strength, let him know. Give his inner strength a name. For example, "that was thoughtful of you" or "that was very imaginative".
2. Provide experiences and environment
If your son displays the hint of a strength, nurture it. Give him the opportunity to experience it again. For example, enrol him in a holiday art course if he shows a creative strength. If he enjoys nature, give him opportunities to explore the natural environment.
Your son needs the right tools to develop his strengths. For example, if he is lacking in ‘use’ of the strength, provide tools that will encourage him to use the strength more often. For example, a music stand for practising or an easel for drawing.
While some strengths are innate, if we are to develop them they require ongoing practise.
5. Role models
Do you know someone with a similar strength? This could be someone you know, an older child, relative or family friend. Alternatively, choose someone more well-known that your son could read or learn about online. This is a great way of learning how other people apply their strengths to everyday life.
For over a century Trinity Grammar School has been nurturing boys to help them realise their potential, passions and purpose in life by identifying their strengths and developing them within the context of a supportive Christian environment.
To find out why we’re one of Sydney’s leading schools for boys and to learn about the excellent academic and co-curricular programmes we offer to educate boys in mind, body and spirit, download our Prospectus.