School's Out, Strengths Are In!
Summer holidays can be a wonder or a wreck! The treats of being on summer vacation – sleeping in, letting go of routine, family trips, abundant downtime - can also throw a family off center and lead to tension and boredom.
Take a strength-based family journey this summer
Taking a strength-based family journey this summer can be a fun way to embrace the positives and steer away from the negatives of holidays. The abundance of time and energy we have during summer break affords us the capacity to help our kids explore and build upon their strengths. Seeing as strengths give us energy and self motivation, they steer us away from boredom and help us use our time in ways that build our wellbeing and family harmony.
Taking a strength-based family journey means we need to know what our strengths are. You can start the holidays by exploring each other's strengths through free surveys and a free strength library on my website (www.strengthswitch.com). Once you are clearer about the strengths of each child, you can sit down as a family and plan out a range of holiday activities that will then build and amplify their strengths. For example, kids who have analytical and problem solving strengths might collect up on a range of puzzles and quizzes to do in their downtime. For those who are artistic, plan some visits to galleries and drop by the art store to make sure the supplies are there for an art project at home. If your kids strengths are more along the social and relationship side of things, ensure they get to see their friends and maybe get them connected to a social improvement project in your local area that will meet their social needs.
Holidays are also a great time to create stretch goals, longer term projects that will take six weeks (on and off) to complete, that tap into your kids' strengths and help them get a sense of accomplishment and growth. Maybe it is getting fit, learning to cook, completing a model airplane, redecorating their room etc. When you feel they have been gaming, eating or sitting for too long invite them to work on their project.
You can also play strengths bingo and whenever you see your kids using a strength, mark it up on a poster or the fridge. Create a friendly competition for who is the best ‘strengths spotter’ in your household; set a family goal for a strength that as a family you’d all like to improve, establish mini-goals along the way and reward your family with a nice dinner or movies for working towards the goal.
Dealing with arguments and problem behaviors
Holidays bring conflict. Fact.
It’s impossible to spend so much time together and not fight occasionally. As parents, this gives us the opportunity to learn a different approach to handling conflict: the strength-based approach.
First, as counterintuitive as this may seem, try to look at the conflict or problem behavior from a strengths perspective. Misbehavior could be an overuse or underuse of strengths rather than deliberate naughtiness or intention to be annoying. The nosy child who is being intrusive towards their siblings may simply be overusing their strength of curiosity. Curiosity is a good quality but it may backfire if overused, so this is the moment to teach your child how to best use their curiosity in ways that cultivates connection rather than leads to annoyance. The child who has natural leadership, undoubtedly a good strength in many situations, might go too far in the holidays and become bossy. Instead of criticizing your child for their bossiness, educate them about the valuable strength they have and show them when and how their natural leadership works best for them. Teaching your kids how to dial down or dial up their strengths is a great gift to give them and break is the time when we are best placed to do this because as parents we are not so busy rushing around with our other tasks.
Second, when there are arguments or problem behavior ask yourself as the parent “What would I rather see instead of this?” Think about what the positive opposite is that you want and call that forward. This changes the way you react from "Stop Fighting!” to “How about we cooperate here?” or “Let’s use our kindness to fix this”
Third, use your own strengths to redirect the behavior and reduce the tension. Your strengths such as humor, perspective, fairness or kindness can be really useful in the heat of the moment to take the sting away and reset family harmony.
Tips for making the Strength Switch in the heat of the moment
Pause and recognize your own emotions before you react.
Think about the moment as an opportunity for learning.
Think about the positive opposite that you want, this way you’re not just telling your kids what not to do, you are showing what to do instead and this provides a positive pathway forward.
Look for a strength that your child has that can be used to resolve the situation.
Teach the importance of forgiveness in a family.
Taking it further
Have some downtime this summer? Consider taking the Strength-Based Parenting Online Course made up of 5 sessions, done over 5 weeks. Each session is made up of a) an online Parent Lesson with Lea, b) Family Time, and c) Keeping It Alive activities where you get to practice your new skills during the week. The course also includes extended learning opportunities where we share the underlying science behind the lessons, if you want to learn more.
Learn more about the Strength-Based Parenting Online Course here.
The summer holidays can be a time of boredom and tension but it can also be an opportunity to develop our children’s self esteem and create family bonding if you take a strength-based perspective. I hope you enjoy your break and may your strengths shine!
To learn more about Strength-Based Parenting visit: www.StrengthSwitch.com.
Photo credits (in order of appearance): Jude Beck, Daiga Ellaby, Jared Sluyter, Nik Radzi, and Adam Sherez on Unsplash.
Tags: #StrengthSwitch, #SBP, #StrengthBasedParenting, #PositivePsychology, #Parenting, #Strengths, #SummerBreak, #Vacation, #Kids, #Parents, #PosPsych, #PositiveParenting, #PositiveEducation, #ParentingTips
Copyright © 2018 Lea Waters. All rights reserved.