Parent to Your Child’s Strengths in Order to Address Weaknesses
All children have good character qualities that, when taken to the extreme, have a negative side. One child may be quite organized, but if not careful, may become inflexible and react poorly to the unexpected. It’s like the saying, “your strength can be your greatest weakness.”
One mom told about her son who had a genuine sensitivity to others’ needs. He was compassionate and cared for others and often felt things deeply. “I remember one time when he was younger, he began to cry when he saw an ambulance speeding down the road because he knew that someone was hurt inside. He’s very caring. Unfortunately, sometimes this sensitivity can cause him to become moody or overly emotional, pouting or crying over the least little problem.” The positive quality is sensitivity but it can have a negative side of being moody or being prone to emotional outbursts.
Another mom saw that her son had the ability to work hard at a task without being distracted. “He focuses intensely, with real determination to succeed.” This quality of being persistent can be a real asset, but sometimes it would show itself as stubbornness.
Some Examples of Good Qualities Misused
As you look at your children’s weaknesses, look for a positive character quality they may be misusing. Look for ways to balance it with other character qualities. Give praise for the positive quality and encourage practical ways to bring balance.
Here are a few more good qualities and ways that their misuse might be revealed:
Analytical – Picky, petty, critical
Confident – Prideful, bossy, insensitive, always has to lead, overconfident
Content – Unmotivated, apathetic, lazy
Courageous – Reckless, foolish, can’t see consequences of actions
Creative – Deceptive, manipulative, mischievous, always has a better way
Determined – Hard-headed, stubborn, obstinate, argues, badgers
Efficient – Inflexible, demanding, must have things a certain way
Enthusiastic – Intense, insensitive, fanatical, extreme, thrill-seeker
Expressive – Talkative, wordy, dominating conversation, poor listener
Neat – Perfectionist, inflexible, unwilling to share
Identifying positive qualities misused will not only encourage you as a parent but it helps you develop a strategy for training. One father told us this story, “I used to get so irritated by my son’s inflexibility. If I didn’t give him warning before some kind of change he’d get upset. But one day I was talking to another father who was frustrated that his son’s room was always messy. I mentioned that we don’t have that problem in our home. My friend was shocked and told me how blessed I am to have a son who is neat. It was then that I realized that my son’s neatness and his inability to be flexible come from the same character strength. He likes order and when things aren’t in order he has a hard time.
This Makes Your Parenting More Positive
“I still need to work on my son’s flexibility and he needs to be able to go with the flow a little more, but now that I see his character strength, I’m less frustrated as I discipline him. I don’t want him to become a slob and give up his orderliness. I just want to bring some other character qualities alongside this one so that he can enjoy his strength more fully.”
This dad is right and he’ll do well parenting his son in this area. It’s sometimes hard to enjoy someone who is very different. The apostle Paul recognized this truth as he looked at God’s family, the church. He saw that people all have different gifts and that they have a tendency to minimize the importance of others’ qualities. So he gave this advice in Romans 12:6-8, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.”
Notice how in some of these qualities Paul recommends another quality to help make it stronger. This advice for the church has similar application for the earthly family.
Admiration is Strategic
When you recognize a child’s strength in an area of character, take time to demonstrate admiration for it. Appreciation tends to focus on what a child does and is important in family life. Admiration focuses on who a child is and goes straight to the heart. When you spend time admiring a child’s strengths, you help form a child’s beliefs about self. Those beliefs are important because they form the way a child acts and develops.
You might say, “Son, you are an emotional person. I think God gave you an extra scoop of emotions when he designed you. I know you’re trying to work on your anger control now, but I just want you to know that I admire your emotional sensitivity. You’re the kind of person that livens up a party and you can see a problem developing before others because of the emotional cues. I like that. You do very well and God is going to use that in your life in some powerful ways, I’m sure.”
Each child is unique and has certain character strengths. Your parenting strategies will be stronger as you take those strengths into account and bring balance to them to make them most effective.
This idea is just one of fifty tips in the Christian Parenting Handbook. You can learn more here.
If you’d like to develop a full strategy for your parenting with a particular child, please check out the Biblical Parenting Coaching Program.
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