“Play to your strengths.”
“I haven’t got any,” said Harry, before he could stop himself.
“Excuse me,” growled Moody, “you’ve got strengths if I say you’ve got them. Think now. What are you best at?”
― JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Focusing on strengths benefits all individuals. But parents may find it very difficult to take this strength-based approach while dealing with their children as they find themselves responsible for the all-round development of the child. This is something that Dr Lea Waters, an Australian psychologist, faced as well. She then researched and came up with an approach based on optimism and resilience that she thinks best supports the child’s ability for self-development. This approach allows children to play to their strengths while working on their areas of improvement.
In this article, we will cover:
An Australian psychologist, Dr Lea Waters’ book, The Strength Switch: How the New Science of Strength-based Parenting Helps Your Child and Your Teen Flourish, mentions a working definition of strengths. Strengths are:
The aforementioned book, The Strength Switch…, helps us understand strength-based parenting. We all have some positive personality traits such as kindness or fairness and a few specific talents. This strength-based approach to parenting encourages children to discover their talents and character strengths in the form of personality traits. However, this does not mean ignoring their areas of development.
Strength-based parenting is more about praising the child for their actual strengths rather than excessive praising. It helps children understand that strengths may make us unique but not special, since everyone has strengths of their own and areas of development. The focus of this approach is to use strengths to help one grow during challenging times and thrive during good times. It builds on what we already have inside, instead of fixing what is not there.
Here are some results that Dr Lea Waters has observed while researching children and adolescents who have strength-focused parents:
In a world that is focused on fixing imperfections, it is empowering to have parents who help children see their strengths. It will help your child understand that there are certain resources that are always available to them, and it will make them feel more secure. And for parents, it will help their parenting be more coherent and consistent.
Are you likely to explore this approach? What challenges do you think you will face while adopting this strength-based parenting approach?
Let us know in the comments below or drop a note at [email protected].
“Me-kha-la!” That happens at least once when she introduces herself to new people. She’s the only ‘Mekhala’ she knows, and she takes a bit of pride in that. She is a quintessential introvert. Mekhala loves tea but cannot make a good cup of tea and often ends up having coffee. She claims that she takes all adjectives as compliments unless specified otherwise. Mekhala is an organizational psychologist and psychometrician. She was a class teacher of 36 adorable girls for two years, grade 2 & 3, as a part of Teach For India Fellowship. And has worked as an independent consultant for a couple of years.
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