Understanding and Building on Children’s Strengths

By Carol Dores

Not every child is a star athlete, and that’s the focus in the town we live in.  I remember trying to help our boys find the things that they would enjoy to do.  When we saw that they loved to use cooking utensils on pots and pans at an early age, and he took drum lessons for many years.  When they loved to create games, we got them involved in industrial design during high school. When they took things apart and put them back together, they designed and built structures for Odyssey of the Mind teams.  What was most important to us and them is that they were involved in things that they enjoyed doing.  And it paid out.  The structure builder is now a mechanical engineer.  The game creator is now an industrial designer.  They both love what they are doing.

Besides observing what our children are naturally good at, we can also talk to them about their strengths.  When there is time for just the two of you to sit quietly, work together to come up with a list of their strengths. This can include things like caring for pets, playing cards with a grandparent, listening to friends talk about their problems, as well as more concrete things like being fascinated with the body and how it works, cooking or building things.

The video game passion may grow into next game designer.  The drawer may grow into a movie animator.  The pet lover may grow into a veterinarian.  The child that loves understanding the body may be a nurse or a doctor.  The listener may become a therapist. The car enthusiast may become a mechanic or car designer.

Once the list is built, your child can put a copy in their room, and you can keep a copy.  When your child is feeling down, or you are upset with your child, it’s great to look at the list, to remember all of the positive things.  It’s also a guide to what kind of clubs and activities your child might be most interested in, as well as guidance for potential career paths.  It can also guide the classes that they take in high school and beyond.

What we focus on grows, so focusing on these strengths and passions will help them grow to achieve their full potential.  It will also help them find their passions in life.

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