Many a parent is familiar with the notion that children do not come with instruction manuals. Since babies are not born with instruction manuals, the best way to raise children is open to interpretation, and interpretations often lead to theories on parenting.
One such theory is strength-based parenting, an approach that focuses on developing and nurturing a child’s character. Dr. Lea Waters, a Melbourne, Australia-based psychologist and author, has studied ways to improve interactions between parents and their children for decades. Dr. Waters emphasizes the value of identifying and nurturing children’s character strengths, and the value that such efforts can have in regard to promoting children’s long-term happiness and achievements.
In an article for Greater Good Magazine, Dr. Waters defined character strengths as those things that are personality-based and internal, including curiosity, courage, humor, and kindness. These character strengths work in conjunction with talents, which may include things like athletic ability, musical skills and problem-solving. Strength-based parenting espouses the importance of cultivating kids’ character strengths as much as their talents. Dr. Waters notes that it would be hard to find anyone who made the most of their talents without also relying on their character strengths. For example, even the most gifted natural athletes need to draw on their work ethic in order to reach their full potential as athletes.
Dr. Waters’ research has led her to conclude that children and teenagers whose parents help them to identify and use their character strengths benefit from that assistance in myriad ways. Such children experience more positive emotions and flow, are more persistent, are more confident, and are more satisfied with their lives compared to children whose parents did not help them identify and use their character strengths. Dr. Waters’ research, published in 2018, also found that children whose parents took a strength-based approach to parenting earned better grades, were less stressed, more capable of coping with friendship issues, and more capable of coping with homework deadlines than children whose parents did not employ a strength-based approach to parenting.
Parenting is a big responsibility, and parents can explore various approaches to raising happy children to fulfill their responsibilities as parents.