We all have strengths and weaknesses, but our focus really should be on supporting our child in growing their strengths.
I work a lot with child who have learning difficulties and differences, and I spend a great amount of time supporting their educators. Unfortunately, not enough training goes into supporting the parents of these types of learners.
Most parents of children with mild learning disabilities who struggle with confidence issues don’t focus on the right solution – STRENGTHS! Without understanding your child’s true innate gifts, you remain in a constant cycle of trying to fix their weaknesses, which leads to more stress and frustration for both you and your child.
But when you begin to focus on what they CAN do, you begin to see improved confidence and improved effort, so that your child is happier and more motivated to learn. Focusing on their strengths is what will change the narrative!
Here are 3 reasons why we should focus on their strengths:
1. Increased positive emotions. A major benefit of focusing on strengths is the impact that applying strengths has on positive emotions. When children operate in their strengths doing activities that they love, they feel good doing it. Also, they most likely can engage in that activity for hours at a time. This simply brings them pleasure and joy.
2. Greatest potential for success. Another reason to adopt strengths-based parenting approach is that children’s greatest opportunities for success come from using their strengths. The same effort it takes to improve a weakness just a little bit can improve a strength significantly more. When a child experiences success more often their confidence is also boosted. This works wonders in the classroom, as well.
3. Enhanced self-confidence. A final reason to emphasize strengths is that focusing on weaknesses can actually undermine your child’s strengths. Trying to improve a weakness leads to negative emotions and lower self-confidence. Lower self-confidence in one area of someone’s life will eventually spread to other areas. Children will feel worse about themselves in general and start doubting their potential even in areas where they have strengths. This can sabotage their success.
You can mitigate them so that they are operating at a functional level – say like in reading. Of course we want to improve this area but just enough to function in school.
Be sure to provide support in weak areas but allow their strengths to be the main focus for tremendous growth potential and confidence building.
Jessika Shields is a Licensed Educational Psychologist, Mom of Four, and Founder of Stronger Minds, Stronger Youth where she coaches concerned parents of children with mild learning difficulties to improve their child’s confidence so that their child is happier and more motivated to learn. She is also the host of the Parent Them Successful podcast, providing insights and resources to help parents regarding early intervention services.
Jessika has nearly 20 years of experience working with families in the K-12 school system and has helped hundreds of parents focus on strengths in order to support their child’s educational journey and overall well-being. She has packaged her experiences as a classroom teacher and school psychologist to serve parents at the highest level through her Building Child Confidence Through Strengths parent coaching program, where she uses her signature framework to help parents transform their child’s mindset from feeling like they’re not smart enough in school to feeling confident in their ability to succeed.
In addition, Jessika has authored several books and resources to support parents in applying growth mindset principles and strengths-based parenting techniques to everyday life, which can all be found at jessikashields.com.
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