Book Club: Dr. Reivich’s Pick05/02/2013
Strengths in Action – (Ages K-2, 3-5, 6+)
Positive Parenting by Dr. Karen Reivich
My daughter, Shayna, sat down with me yesterday and told me that she "had something serious" to talk about. She said, "I learned that there are a lot of poor people in India and that some kids there don't have clothes or books or toys. Some don't even have medicine when they get sick. That's not right, because all kids should have those things no matter where they live. I have a lot of clothes and toys, so I want to send some of mine to the kids there. They'll be excited to get a package and that'll help them feel happy again. How do I send stuff to kids in India?" We spent the next hour and a half sorting through her clothes so that she could choose what to send.
This one brief conversation gave me a glimpse into some of Shayna's character strengths. Her desire to help children in India shows kindness and a capacity to love. Her awareness that "it's not right" shows a sense of fairness and equity. Her willingness to pack up her belongings to help make other children feel happy shows her optimism and hope. Sorting through all of her clothes shows zest and perseverance.
As the pile of clothes and toys grew, I commented to Shayna about the various strengths I saw her putting into action. I wanted her to know that she was using her strengths to contribute to the happiness of others and that the more she put her strengths into action, the happier she would be as well.
Gratitude, hope, zest, love and curiosity are the character strengths research shows to be most strongly related to life satisfaction. In addition, the character strengths of perseverance, gratitude and hope predicted academic achievement.
Here are two of my favorite ways to help a child both develop awareness of character strengths and build new ones:
And, of course, a surefire way to help your children develop strengths is to praise them when you see them using one.
Karen Reivich, Ph.D.
Positive Psychology and Character Strengths: Application to Strengths-Based Counseling in Professional School Counseling, 2008. Volume 12, Number 2, Pages 85-92.
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