Why getting to know your teens strengths is important
Understanding our strengths play a crucial role in shaping our self-perception and overall wellbeing.
Often we have a list of things we’re not good at, areas we would like to improve or work on, but we’re not as good at identifying our strengths.
There seems to be a misconception out there that if you praise kids or let them know their strengths that they’ll stop trying and rest on their laurels. Emphasising children’s weaknesses decreases their motivation to do better rather than motivating them as some people may assume.
Parenting that focuses on a child’s weaknesses can lead to problems, conflict and poor mental wellbeing.
Just like adults, children can get demoralised, defensive, or annoyed when they are called out for things that they are not good at or given ‘tips’ on how to improve.
Feeling demoralised and unacknowledged isn’t motivating us and or children to do better and try harder.
When parents acknowledge and highlight their child’s strengths, it can have a positive impact on their development and your relationship with them.
Focusing on strengths can help with
Recognising and sharing with your teen their strengths can boost their self-esteem. By focusing on their positive qualities and accomplishments, parents help their children develop a healthy self-image. Which can contribute to their overall confidence and resilience.
Identifying a teenager’s strengths provides them with valuable insights into areas where they excel. Are they great at art? Sport? Music? When parents acknowledge and discuss these strengths, it encourages their children to set meaningful goals that align with their passions and talents. It empowers them to pursue activities and endeavours they may enjoy and can thrive in.
Cultivating a Growth Mindset:
Emphasising strengths fosters a growth mindset in teenagers. When children’s strengths and abilities are noticed, it sends the message that they can improve and develop their skills further. This mindset encourages teenagers to embrace challenges, persevere through obstacles, and see setbacks as opportunities for growth.
Reducing Stress and Anxiety:
Knowing and utilising their strengths can help teenagers navigate stressful situations with more ease. By focusing on their positive attributes, it may help alleviate the pressure to conform to societal expectations or compare themselves with others. Recognising and understanding their strengths can provide teenagers with a sense of security and confidence during challenging times.
Acknowledging a teenager’s strengths reinforces positive communication and strengthens the parent-child bond. In my practice, I often hear teens say they feel their parents don’t like them or anything about them. That most of their interactions are with things they need to do, school grades and what they’re doing wrong or not enough of. By expressing admiration and appreciation for their child’s qualities, parents create a supportive and nurturing environment. This open and affirming relationship can lead to better parent-teenager connections, improved trust, and enhanced emotional wellbeing.
How to Share Strengths with Your Teenager:
Download our a of strengths here
I encourage you to share with your teen their strengths in a face-to-face chat. You can get creative and send memes, and messages and write in cards too.
- Offer Specific Praise: Instead of generic compliments, be specific about the strengths you observe in your teenager. For example, you might say, “Your creativity really shines through in the way you designed those fliers. It was impressive!”
- Share Genuine Admiration: Express your genuine admiration for their qualities or actions. For instance, you could say, “I admire how thoughtful you are. The kind gesture you did for ____ last week was really heartwarming.”
- Encourage Self-Reflection: Prompt your teenager to identify their own strengths by asking questions such as, “What do you think are your greatest strengths?” or “What activities make you feel most confident and capable?”
- Create Opportunities for Growth: Encourage your teenager to explore and develop their strengths further. Provide resources, guidance, and support to help them hone their skills and pursue activities that align with their strengths.
Remember, sharing strengths with your teenager is an ongoing process. By regularly acknowledging their strengths and fostering a positive environment, parents can contribute to their child’s overall wellbeing and personal growth.