How to Recognize Your Child’s Strengths and Play to Them

You glance over to the pride and joy you are glad to call your child while you sit there, perhaps on a sofa, perhaps in a lounge chair, or while having a meal at the table.

They return the smile, skipping around the table they learned to stand on or kissing you on the cheek as they grab your car keys for their first (or second, but hopefully final) errand in your vehicle.

You watch as they take their plate from the table, inquire if anyone needs anything on their way to the sink, and then finally make their way to the living room, saying, “Bed fort after dinner?”

What courtesy! What a brilliant idea! What foresight!

What you may not realize is that your child’s strengths—the initiative, creativity, ambition, passion, and introspective nature that turns other people off—are fostered every day!

It’s fine if you’ve never considered your child’s natural abilities. You’ve been conditioned to simply look at what they need to correct, as is all too common. [1]

It turns out that recognizing, growing, and managing your child’s abilities isn’t quite as difficult as you may think. In reality, a visit to the park can cover a lot of those three steps. Let’s look at some easy and successful techniques to draw attention to your child’s skills.

1. Identifying Strengths

Now, I know what you’re thinking: when do I have time to become a psychologist between workplace meetings, Zoom sessions, laundry, and grocery shopping?

I understand. Identifying your child’s strengths, on the other hand, is not difficult. In fact, a simple exercise—participate in their play—usually suffices. 

Participate in Their Play

Play can take various forms, but it is commonly characterized as an activity that has no intrinsic value and is enjoyed by adults—we call these activities “hobbies.” Children are children, after all, whether they are two or thirteen, and play is crucial.

Play is a means for youngsters to practice “problem-solving, self-control, and learning how to share,” according to a paper from the University of Utah.[2]

Isn’t it true that in our supportive position of assisting children to develop as adults, we should recognize and cultivate their tremendous strengths?

Children naturally demonstrate how they lead, sympathize with others, and collaborate with others (or not) to solve problems while they play. You’ll be able to discover how your child’s strengths appear in the simplest of activities if you spend time being present with them while they play.

Observing your children at play helps you to observe how they make mistakes, which is an important predictor of their self-esteem.

Allow (Supported) Mistakes—and Often!

It has nothing to do with identifying your child’s skills and expecting them to be flawless. In fact, it’s the polar opposite. Remember, you’re teaching them toward becoming self-sufficient and nurturing adults, and there aren’t many flawless people out there!

When your child is working to comprehend their impact on others, themselves, and the world, highlighting moments when they have made mistakes and working through how to bounce back or rectify that mistake may be wonderful.

Children, like parents who tend to focus on the negative, learn far more from their failures than from their accomplishments.

When your child makes a mistake, gently catch them and work out a plan to get them out of it. Of course, your purpose isn’t to solve their problem, but to help them develop the ability to make better decisions in the future.

You’ll be astonished at what your child can accomplish if you adopt the mindset of an engaged and present parent who is seeking opportunities to develop their abilities.

The following are some good examples of natural child strengths to look for:

  • Compassionate
  • Empathetic
  • Listener
  • Risk-Taker
  • Adventurous
  • Confident

These are the soft skills that are being developed as young as preschool and even before. In today’s global workplace environment, ensuring that your child is developing in these (and other) areas will set them up for success.

Okay, great. You’ve watched your children at the park or tag along with your teenager to a volunteer event and notice how gracious they are. How do we keep that going?

As is normally the case, you’ll see that cultivating strengths is no more difficult than identifying them.

2. Cultivating Your Child’s Identified Strengths

Consider the following scenario: You’ve just finished your fourth ten-hour day on Thursday evening. Your partner is late for work, and your three children each want something different for supper that should have been prepared yesterday.

“Hey, maybe we can all act like chefs tonight and prepare our own dinners?” your middle child suggests just as you’re about to snap under the strain. “It may be entertaining!”

Please, yeah, yes.

As you lie in bed later that evening, reflecting on that interaction in the kitchen, you begin to recall other instances of that child—and, as you drift off to sleep, your other children—stepping up and leading in their own ways. You know it’s not by chance, so what’s the deal?

Provide Many At-Bats

Simply because a child can carry their plate to the sink does not imply that they are capable of handling Grandma’s china. However, by providing “at-bats” for youngsters to develop capacity by utilizing their strengths, the road to them being able to handle more difficult settings becomes less and less clogged.

Your youngster will be able to travel China with ease one day, possibly very soon. Today isn’t that day, but with a little effort, it will be!

It’s a terrific idea to provide your youngster’s opportunities to develop their strengths. Everyone wants to feel capable, and your child is no exception! 

Teach Them to Trust but Verify

Leaders who are effective do not have all of the solutions. We don’t expect our children to know everything, and neither should you.

However, we should instill in them the ability to recognize what they don’t know and devise strategies for obtaining the information they require to solve their problems.

You can’t always have all the answers. So, what are your options?

Exposing them to the world of information that exists is a good start. Great, you’ve identified your child is empathetic, but must they assist and provide supportive care to everyone they encounter? Or should there be some healthy boundaries established?

3. Turning Weaknesses Into Opportunities

I can’t possibly write an article about child strengths without also addressing the fact that our children aren’t capable of being good at everything.

One of your most essential duties as a parent is to identify your child’s strengths and to encourage them to develop those strengths following the techniques and suggestions in this article. There will, however, be several opportunities for you to work through the difficulties your child faces.

I don’t want to come across as harsh, but everyone has competencies on a spectrum: you may work, hustle, and grind to develop aspects of your personality or skill set to achieve whatever goal you set for yourself.

Allowing youngsters to work with a progress-oriented perspective rather than a perfection-oriented mindset will aid their journey. After all, if you’re continually attempting to better, you can’t be weak.

Pay attention to how your child moves around the next time you take them to the park, to a professional sporting event, or even when you’re playing cards in the living room on a cold winter night.

Reference:

  1. The Washington Post: Focus on your child’s strengths to help them succeed. Here’s how

2. University of Utah Health: The Importance of Playtime for Children

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