Parenting is challenging. Many times I feel like I'm consistently correcting my son and nagging him to comply. When I see him misbehave, I am ready to pounce.
Knowing I have lots of room to improve, I am addicted to books about raising resilient children. As a stark comparison- to receive a drivers license you endure hours of studying and several exams, yet anyone can have a child and we are given very little training.
In her new book, the Strength Switch, positive psychologist, speaker and academic Dr. Lea Waters suggests the brain's negativity bias alerts us to anything that could cause harm or danger. The brain is hard wired to look for what could go wrong in life.
This is great for survival but can have a damaging effect on our relationship with our children. As parents we have an astute awareness of impending danger, we can nag and assault our kids with potential problems. Unaware of our bias to protect them, kids can take it personally.
Dr. Lea Water suggests we look first for the positive traits of our children before the negative. Traditional wisdom suggests Improvement is about fixing what is wrong with us.
Thus, we spend all of our emphasis on fixing our weaknesses instead of focusing on our strengths. Kids, self-esteem can be fragile, need to reinforce their value and strengths, not weaknesses.
Ways to capture kids strengths:
First, recognize strengths: Three core elements to a child's strengths are:
They perform it well, it gives them energy when they do it and they are self-motivated to do it.
Once you recognize a child's strengths focus on helping them use that strength in life.
It doesn't mean we ignore weaknesses but focus more on strengths. Children battered by their weakness become defensive and tune out.
The example used in the book is Dr. Water's daughter who is impatient when the school curriculum isn't moving fast enough, so she tunes out. However, Her strength is curiosity, thus, they encourage her to be curious about the subject and ask questions to stay engaged.
Some of the strengths Dr. Waters covers in her book are:
Attention, gratitude, grit and perseverance, mindfulness, self-esteem, optimism, and resilience.
However, I suggest getting the book through Amazon.Com because there is a very detailed list of potential strengths every parent should have.
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