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*** Monthly Feature Column ***
Building Assets in your Kids
Your Child’s Strengths
by Kelly Curtis from Pass the Torch
(I’m giving away a copy of Your Child’s Strengths on my blog this week – please stop by and sign up!)
It’s so easy to get overwhelmed by weakness.
The crashed computer. Unfinished taxes. Those 10 pounds I keep meaning to shed.
I’m guessing I’m not alone. And with children in the house, it seems there’s always something that isn’t quite how we pictured it: a whiny morning, a messy room, a bossy playtime, a spaghetti-stained shirt.
But if we’ve trained ourselves to look for them, there are also details that turn out better than we expected, or at the very least – are moments to cherish. Sometimes these identified “moments” show up often, becoming character traits. I invite parents to join me weekly to celebrate this – it helps to keep perspective in a busy and stressful life.
Research shows that the more 40 Developmental Assets children have, the more likely they’ll resist risky behaviors in the future. The premise of the Asset Approach is to focus on what’s right about kids – this in turn makes those strengths more influential on a child’s life, than his or her weaknesses are.
Jenifer Fox, author of Your Child’s Strengths: Discover Them, Develop Them, Use Them, agrees. She says that when parents focus on developing and utilizing their children’s strengths — rather than trying to fix weaknesses – children grow up to be happier, healthier and more productive adults.
She writes, “…strengths are not talents or skills, or what your children are good at. Strengths are far more personal – they are the activities that make someone feel strong.” Although a child might be good at math, if it isn’t energizing for that child, it isn’t a true strength.
Jenifer offers four ideas for parents who want to set the stage for a young child’s self-discovery:
• Record observations of preferences, quirks and choices
• Stimulate imagination through creative play
• Create rich memories with tradition and ritual
• Model positive attitudes and positive approaches to life.
The more we can help our kids identify their strengths, and channel them into the paths that work toward those strengths, the more likely they’ll pursue positive life choices that energize and motivate them.
So go ahead. Join the brag-fest! What are your child’s strengths?
Thanks for joining in to build assets in your kids! I look forward to seeing you again next month for Positively Speaking.
Kelly Curtis is a Wisconsin school counselor and author of Empowering Youth: How to Encourage Young Leaders to Do Great Things. To read more about Kelly, please visit her Weblog, Pass the Torch.
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