Focus On Teen Strengths

By: Bercedeh Stark

Turn What You Love about Your Teen Into a Strong and Lasting Friendship

Oh, that Emma, thinks Mum. I can’t believe her. She’s only 15 and all she does is play video games. She used to be so active. Now she won’t try out for sports or join a club at school… She won’t even come to dinner. I practically have to yank her off the computer or she’ll starve. I’m so frustrated. Emma makes me feel like a rotten mum.

It’s hard to feel good about teens when they act up or shut down. Erratic behaviour is common in teenagers, but that doesn’t make it any easier on parents. In fact, participants in my workshops often struggle to find admirable traits in their teens.

Despite this difficulty, knowing your teenager’s strengths is worth the effort. Here are some reasons why:

• You feel great about being the parent of such a super teenager
• You understand your teen better and see things from their viewpoint
• They feel heard and valued and together you create a safe place for sharing
• Your teen’s self esteem blooms when they feel accepted and loved
• You experience more positive feelings when you focus on their good sides
• You see in them what you like about yourself
• You form a common ground for communication throughout your family

Let’s look at how you can identify your teen’s strengths and help your child grow into an adult you admire.

There are loads of reasons to look past defiance and focus on strengths. Aside from building trust through clear communication—and enjoying a little peace and quiet around the house—strengths show personality.

That’s right. Hidden under those layers of rebellion and indifference your teen is actively interpreting the world in their own enchanting way.

Remember being a teenager? Like most teens, you probably battled uncertainty. Maybe you shouted from the rooftops, or, like Emma, you found solace in a solitary obsession.

There’s a reason for this. Teenagers are trying on new behaviour to see what fits. And the good news is that you can help just by accepting them. Point out your teenager’s strengths and give them the courage they need as they encounter the world.

What’s more, encouraging strengths builds trust. When you focus on strengths your teen will likely open up and share more with you.

Sadly, many parents miss this brief opportunity to see life from their children’s point of view. Instead, they become embroiled in power struggles and watch their influence as parents slip away.

But that’s not for you.

Find your child’s strengths and focus on them. Teens are magnificent human beings eager for your acceptance and support. When you focus on their strengths and accept them as they are you’ll see the wonder of the world through their bright and shining eyes.

And here’s the most important reason to focus on your teenagers’ strengths. When you notice what’s going well in your teenager’s life you can see what’s going well in your own life. It’s true. Soak in all the good things around you. Develop a sense of thankfulness and let it spread throughout your whole family.

Now, here are some action steps you can take to identify and nurture your teenager’s strengths.

Step 1: Choose three strengths you admire in your teenager. Consider your child’s strengths in mind, body, family, community, spirit, skills, and money. A good place to start is by finding in them what you admire in yourself.

Step 2: Once you’ve chosen three strengths, observe them in your child over the next four weeks. Don’t force anything; just notice what comes up.

Step 3: Keep a diary to note positive changes in behaviour or communication. Remember, all you’re doing is observing. No need to do anything other than notice.

Step 4: Reward yourself for staying focused on your teen’s strengths. Treat yourself to small gifts and feel good as you strengthen your relationship.

Step 5: After a month, answer these questions:

• What have you gained?
• Are you closer to your child?
• Do you understand your teen better?
• Has this exercise helped you in unexpected ways?
• How can you bring what you’ve learned into other areas of your life?

Consider continuing your journal after you complete these steps. You might focus on other people’s strengths and see how your relationships improve over time.

This exercise can turn strife into pleasure. It’s amazing. When you take the time to find and focus on your teenager’s strengths you save yourself years of misunderstanding and hardship. And, as you follow these simple steps, you build a lasting foundation of trust and understanding—not for your teen alone, but for your entire family.

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