Nurturing Youth, Strengths, and Future Generations
It’s often said that raising kids is the most important job in the world. Today’s children and teens are the next generations who will lead the world far beyond our own lifetimes. How do we interact with young people in our lives? Whether we are parents, grandparents, teachers, professionals, neighbors, friends or any other societal role, we can have a positive impact.
Positive psychologist, Lea Waters, PhD, author of The Strength Switch (2017) on the science of strength-based parenting suggests a radical shift in perspective. Dr. Waters recommends focusing on what is right with youth, emphasizing their strengths. This doesn’t mean ignoring weaknesses, but rather being in touch with our children’s strengths and our own, and learning to use them in positive ways.
Essentially, identifying our strengths involves knowing our capabilities and having a vocabulary to describe them. Researchers have developed several systems to classify strengths. Perhaps the most influential and well researched is the VIA Classification of Strengths and Virtues (Peterson & Seligman, 2004), which identifies twenty-four character strengths common to humankind. These strengths include curiosity, creativity, judgement, kindness, perspective, leadership, perseverance, bravery, zest, honest, social intelligence, fairness, forgiveness, teamwork, love, gratitude, love of learning, self-regulation, spirituality, humility, appreciation of beauty, prudence, hope, and humor (Neimiec, 2018).