Balancing strengths and weaknesses.

Saturday October 28, 2017

When I was seven I was very clumsy and unco-ordinated so my mother decided to send me to ballet classes so I could gain some poise and confidence. I found I was surrounded by slim accomplished ballet dancers whereas chubby me had trouble accomplishing first position. I used to hide at the back of the class. I heard the ballet teacher tell my mum she would not make me do exams as it would spoil the standard of her class. My brothers teased me by saying even the elephants from the movie Fantasia had more grace than I did. My parents were simply following parenting advice of the day that is still used today, to concentrate on the child's weakness.

Recently, I heard a radio programme about positive psychology applied to parenting where a parent is encouraged to focus on extending a child's strengths and not concentrating on the weakness.

This is sometimes called Strength-based parenting, an approach where parents deliberately identify and cultivate positive states, processes and qualities in their children.

A strength-based approach to parenting focuses first on the child's strengths - their talents, positive qualities, what your child does well and their good behaviour - before attending to their faults and shortcomings.

This approach is the opposite the more typical approach to parenting that places the bulk of attention on fixing what's wrong with our kids (which brings them up to scratch) but rather highlights what's right with children (which brings out their uniqueness).

My parents like their peers were trying to fix my clumsiness and other flaws. They also praised me and loved me but there was an emphasis on correcting one's behaviour.

I suppose I tried to concentrate on my children's strengths but I also wanted to improve their weaknesses.

I am not saying one approach is right or wrong, I am interested in exploring the effects each approach has on children and parents.

Would or did having your parents concentrate on the strengths rather than fixing your flaws, helped you growing up?

Do you think trends change all the time in psychology and parenting and this is just another one?

A Moodscope member

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