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5 Key Reasons to be a Strength-Based Parent 

via Gallup

Strength-based parents zoom in what their kids are doing well 

Focusing on strengths can reduce stress, have a calming influence, and in many ways be an energy boost. Strength-based parents are less likely to criticize, complain, and worry.  The bottom line, strength-based parents are happier and so are their kids. 

Strength-based parenting is not rocket science

Below are 5 strength-based tips that will turn moms and dads into strength-based parents.  A more detailed summary of these tips can be found at Be a Strength-Based Parent by Dr. Lea Waters. 

1) Strengths provide tools for success. We must make a special effort to appreciate the good stuff over the bad. We are hardwired with a negative bias causing us to be continually on the lookout.  As part of our human evolution, our ancestors focused on problems and potential danger — it was a matter of survival.  To change this, we have to develop strength-based tools based on common sense thinking that success breeds success.  In this way, our kids don’t simply survive, they thrive.  When our kids focus on strengths, they have the tools to make their potential a reality which encourages them to work even harder.  

2) Strengths provide a framework for success. We tend to overestimate our kids’ problems over their success. Again, we’re wired to do this so we must make a special effort to magnify what our kids do best.  But before you think this is some feel-good exercise it’s important to note that you are actually creating and supporting positive habits for your kids. In other words, you are creating a framework for success. Our goal is to show our kids the connection between their behavior and their success; how certain behaviors lead to success. 

3) Strengths provide resilience for success. Grounded in Positive Psychology, resilience and strengths have a reciprocal, increasing relationship.  The more kids believe in their strengths the more resilient they become in the face of adversity.  By emphasizing strengths you are helping your kids adapt to the stressful conditions they may face as they grow into adulthood. Connecting kids with their strengths lead to confidence, independence, and character-building; goals any parent would want for their kids.

4) Strengths provide opportunities for success. But having strengths do not guarantee success.  As your kid’s parent, you play a critical role in helping your youngster understand that having natural talents are not enough.   Time, hard work, and self-discipline are required to be successful.  Let’s explore each of these components of success.

Time:  Every person learns at their own rate. Some kids read before they can walk and some kids can learn their multiplication tables in a few days while others require weeks.  How long it takes really doesn’t matter and if you think it does just remember the story of the tortoise and the hair. 

Hard Work – Talking about the value of hard work Oprah Winfrey said, The big secret in life is that there is no big secret. Whatever your goal, you can get there if you’re willing to work.   There are no shortcuts to hard work, you either do it or you don’t.  But hard work does not need to painful. We call it the Three Ps – Potential, Practice, Perfect.  For kids, the Three Ps is a game worth playing where they learn from the most important people in their lives — their parents — that they can be perfect with lots of practice because they have potential.  Introducing a strong work ethic to kids this way can have a lasting effect and become part of their character. 

Self-Discipline – Our strengths give us the self-discipline to stay focused on our goals and as our self-discipline increases, our strengths lead to more opportunities for success.  Self-discipline is a skill which evolves as kids begin to see the power of their strengths.  Parents can help develop self-discipline skills by showing their kids how self-control — controlling your actions and reactions — makes their strengths stronger.

Through persevering and resisting distractions, parents can show and help their kids understand how good it feels to stay the course and complete what you started.  Pay close attention to your kids and reward and support them when they finish what they start.  A pat on the back and a sincere comment telling how glad and proud you are to be your kid’s parent goes a long way.

5) Strengths provide independence for success. A strength-based approach plants the seeds for independence and self-reliance.  Kids are empowered knowing they have the capacity to control their own lives and create a successful future.  With this empowerment, kids are less likely to be manipulated or swayed by others.  When parents reinforce the importance of independence in a combination with their kid’s natural talents, the result is internal happiness and success and how great is that?

Emphasize your kid’s talents every chance you can

Let’s say your kid loves baseball but does not like math. Since his first days in school, he has had failing grades in math.  He is convinced that math will always be his worst subject.  On the other hand, he loves to read, debate, and analyze baseball.  He even has his own baseball blog.

As his parents, this is your opportunity to change your kid’s negative feelings towards math by focusing on your kid’s interests and talents.  By using baseball as a backdrop, you can create a learning experience where your kid can discover for himself that mathematics is a very diverse subject and that the math he has had in school is very narrow and limited in focus.  

As any baseball fan knows, baseball is a game of statistics. Math is critical to understanding and communicating the ins-and-outs of baseball. But this is just the start.  Numbers are in many ways the words or terms of baseball and when you combine numbers a story is told that reveals the past, present, and future of players and teams.   

Here’s an activity which connects baseball to mathematics, while emphasizing your kid’s talents of reading, debating, and analyzing 

Every breakfast or dinner, ask your kid a baseball question that involves numbers.  Start easy and build up.  Here are 10 sample questions:  (1) What left-handed hitter had the most homers in a season?  (2) Name the pitcher who had the most strikeouts in a nine-inning game?  (3) What does an ERA of 3.00 mean for a baseball pitcher?   (4) What baseball manager signed 23 1-year contracts?   (5) What third baseman hit .363 and won the National League MVP award in 1971? (6) How do you calculate a batting average for a season? (7) In 2011, Albert Pujols became the third player to do what in the World Series? (8) Who was the best all-around hitter during the 2018 baseball season and why? (9) If you were going to draft a pitcher, which statistic would you look at the most: The ERA or the WHIP?  (10) What are 3 statistics you normally find in a box score?

Obviously, each of the above questions can be a great conversation starter and they represent an example of how interest and talents can be connected to a school subject.  

It is hoped that this baseball math activity will stimulate your own thinking to create some talent and interest activities for your kids.  A little bit of thinking on your part can generate a number of activities that can reframe how your kids view school and the problems they may be having. 

It’s not that difficult and with a little practice as we say in baseball, you will surely hit a home run.

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