A brief anecdote of talks between parents
During some of our recent interactions with parents, we hear them discuss about their child, complaining on ‘missing skills’, ‘not having talent’, and ‘which class to enroll’, ‘books to read’ to fix the gap. Well, as a Positive Psychology student, it becomes my responsibility to educate them in recognising the “Strengths” of their child.
In other words, I guide them through the process of focusing on “What is Good In The Child”, as opposed to the traditional process of fixing “The What Is Wrong/Bad In My Child”.
We read through The VIA Character Strengths, taken their survey and delved into the book, ‘The Power of Character Strengths‘. These exercises helped us, our friends and especially our 5-year-old son, in identifying the 24 Strengths.
These Strengths have been coded after a research-based exercise under the 6 virtues viz. Wisdom, Courage, Humanity, Justice, Temperance, and Transcendence (Seligman & Peterson, 2004).
When it comes to explaining to children, one possible way that comes to our mind is the one that we use for our son, Ivan. We mention to him about the toolbox we have in our home. That toolbox has many tools e.g. screwdriver, wrench, pliers, hammer, scissors, L-key, and the like. Whenever, we are faced with a situation, we do not waste our time complaining, instead we reach to our toolbox and pick the right one. And just like each tool has an intended purpose, similarly each of the 24 Character Strengths have a focused purpose to shape ourselves in the scenarios of our life. Now, it is important to mention here that we all have these Strengths and just like we know our tools’ inventory, and sharpen, polish or oil our tools for their longevity, similarly we need to know our tools (Strengths Spotting) and for our children. And for a flourishing life, we need to keep making use of them every now and then. Besides, we also need to be mindful of not overusing/underusing them.
Another analogy that strikes to us well is in the words of Dr Neal Mayerson, “Character Strengths are like facial features, each one of us has the same, but it is in the composition of these features that gives it a unique identity, and it is the composition of these strengths that gives us a unique character.”
It is with the help of these Strengths, we will be able to harness the true potential of our children and help them acquire new skills. We hope that the process becomes effortless for parents having known the Power of Character Strengths, through practice it spreads to many more families.
We are currently reading the book titled, “The Strength Switch” by Dr Lea Waters and aim to utilise the mechanisms that she has discussed in the book for children.
Following our reading and practice, we have recently developed a summary of the importance of these Strengths and the Positive Impact that they can have on an individual’s life and summed up into a picture with this article.