This decades old song from the WWII era was a popular response to the struggles and sorrows of the early to middle 1940’s and a time of war. Families were separated and loved ones were called upon to defend freedom. Loneliness and painful losses prevailed. But Mr. Johnny Mercer, singer and song writer, wanted to offer strength and take away fear and crippling weakness. Mercer’s words encouraged folks to look to the bright side, build on your strengths, and “latch on to the affirmative.”
Sixty years later, research shares the same message about raising strong resilient kids growing up in the 21st C. If we give greater attention to a child’s weaknesses and flaws, we teach them to ignore their strengths. Being so preoccupied with what is wrong rather than what is right, will eventually bury and overpower the strengths. The child sees himself as a failure, someone who has many flaws and negative attributes. At that point, neither the significant adults surrounding a child nor the child himself knows what those golden goodies, morsels of success-in-the-making are.
Help your child to discover where her/his strengths lie. Look for them. Are they especially caring, are they organized, are they good at drawing or singing or sports? Everyone has strengths, and the most critical time of a child’s life is during those early years when they are gaining in self-confidence and searching for their own personal daily gold nuggets. If you notice your child being especially effective at some task or endeavor, let her/him know. In your sincerest explanation tell them what you observed and why you think they were very good at the response/action/task. Another aspect of this gold panning is to provide them with activities that will help them discover exactly what they are good at doing and what they enjoy. When we offer opportunities for dance, learning an instrument, being a member of a scout troop, team sports, performing arts, and drawing to mention of few choices, we help them to find out who they are and what their strengths are. By taking these steps, your kiddo will be well along the path to becoming a happy and productive adult.
How did you find out what your strengths were? Who helped you and how did that person(s) help? How have you helped a young person discover his/her strengths?