Building on your child's character strengths

What are the character strengths you love in your kids?
What are the character strengths you love in your kids?  Photo: Getty Images

Most of us can describe our kids at their worst. When our kids are tired, hungry, irritated or frustrated they act out, and we have to manage the repercussions. They can be stubborn, selfish or spiteful, aggressive, whingy or mean-spirited. Challenging times indeed.

But our children also have many shining moments – times when they show wonderful strength of character.

So how many of us can describe our kids at their best? Can you describe what kind of a person your child is being when they make you happy, content or proud? Are they being creative, courageous or funny, or perhaps they're being kind, curious or loving?

When we're at our best, we reveal who we truly are. We show the world our character strengths.

Character strengths are what distinguish us from other people. They are a part of our individuality, they guide our behaviour, and are based on what we value.

Pioneers in the field of positive psychology completed a wide-ranging study of qualities that are admired across cultures and across generations. They then identified 24 character strengths that are classified under six qualities or virtues.

These character strengths are what bring us alive. When we're using our strengths we feel good about ourselves, and we have a positive impact on others.

It's certainly important to encourage our children's literacy and numeracy. But it's equally important to encourage their own individual character to develop and shine. While literacy and numeracy may educate their mind and give them important life skills, character strengths educate their hearts, which is also vital in life.

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So what are the character strengths you love in your kids? How can you identify them? Here's the list of the admired qualities.

  • Creativity: Does your child think of new and interesting ways to do things?
  • Curiosity: Does your child take an interest in different things? Do they like exploring and discovering?
  • Judgment: Is your child good at thinking things through and considering things?
  • Love of learning: Does your child love to learn new things?
  • Perspective: Is your child interested in different ways of looking at the world?
  • Bravery: Does your child show courage?
  • Perseverance: Does your child really stick to things even if they are hard to do?
  • Honesty: Is your child honest and sincere?
  • Zest: Has your child got lots of energy and life? 
  • Love: Is your child loving, caring and sharing?
  • Kindness: Is your child generous and kind? Do they like helping others?
  • Social intelligence: Is your child good at understanding how other people feel? Do they look out for others? 
  • Teamwork: Is your child good at working and doing things with others?
  • Fairness: Is your child fair and giving?
  • Leadership: Is your child a leader?
  • Forgiveness: Is your child good at forgiving?
  • Humility: Is your child humble and respectful of others?
  • Prudence: Does your child take care with what they say or do?
  • Self-regulation: Is your child self-disciplined? Can they manage their emotions?
  • Appreciation of beauty and excellence: Does your child really appreciate beautiful things from nature and life?
  • Gratitude: Is your child thankful and appreciative?
  • Hope: Does your child have a positive outlook? Are they optimistic?
  • Humour: Is your child funny? Can they make other people laugh?
  • Spirituality: Does your child show a sense of faith and spirit?

These strengths may look different at different ages, and some strengths may be difficult to spot until they are older. But all of our kids have their own strengths, and the more we recognise and encourage our kids to show their strengths, the more contented, happy and healthy they will be.

Jodie Benveniste is a psychologist, parenting author and the founder of Parent Wellbeing. You can find more parenting inspiration at parentwellbeing.com.