It goes without saying that every parent wants his or her child to be an expert in all fields. A child who can get good grades and excel in sports at the same. Not only that, if the child can play Violin like Vanessa Mae, paint like Leonardo da Vinci, and sing like Mariah Carey, the much the better.
All parents seem to be going into that direction. But is it possible?
I am reading a book called Play to Your Strengths: Focus on What You Do Best – and Success Will Follow. This revolutionary book was written by Donald O. Clifton and Paula Nelson. And it’s been used by many Fortune 500 companies to recruit the right people to help them to achieve outstanding success.
And I really think that school curriculum should educate students based on what Donald taught in his book and this the #1 reason why parents must stop thinking of raising your child as an all-rounder (I modified it to suit parents):
“Everyone has a different set of strengths and weaknesses. If you want your child to be highly successful, focus on his strengths and develop from there.”
While the book is more about helping adults to play to their strengths, the points brought up by the authors are valid for our children too. Why not start helping the kids to be on the right track now by identifying what makes them tick?
After reading the book, I have listed some important points (facts taken from the book based on Donald’s 40 years of research) which I think it’s important to help parents on how they should educate and train their child.
You should raise your child based on an existing strength, not what you want him to be or fixing his weaknesses. In other words, you should not focus on what your child doesn’t do well, the emphasis should be on helping him to do more of what he is good at. How many times parents and teachers will try to help students in their weak subjects by having extra classes? We should focus on the strong areas of the students, not the weak. Fixing weaknesses will make everything alright is a myth. Doing this only puts a person at normal or average the most, and he will not be great.
You can’t do anything you put your minds to. We often hear phrases like: “If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.” “Practice makes perfect.” “If you can conceive it, you can achieve it.” “If I can do it, you can do it.”
This is utter rubbish. Why? It’s not true because every one of us has a different set of strengths. One size fits all hoo-haa doesn’t work here. And we are definitely not robots that can be programmed to do whatever we want. So are your kids. Donald wrote that the phrases should read: “You can be anything your strengths allow you to be.” “If at first you don’t succeed, check to see if you’re building on a strength.” “Practicing a strength makes perfect.” “If you can conceive it and achieve it, it was probably there all along.” “If I can do it, those with the same strengths can too.”
Wrong expectations can destroy your child. When no match exists between expectation and strengths, the result is wrong expectations. Expectations must be in tuned with your child’s strengths for your child to succeed in life. Otherwise, frustration builds up and self-esteem becomes low if they see no results even after they have worked hard at it.
A popular example of wrong expectations is: “I want you to be as good as your brother at school.”
So parents! Please don’t overwork your child by sending them to every class you can think of. Stop for a moment and find out what you child is good at and focus on developing that strength. Don’t ignore but help him manage his weaknesses. When you follow this, as Donald put it in the subtitle of the book, success will follow.
Author: Donald O. Clifton was cited by American Psychological Association as the Father of Strengths Psychology and the Grandfather of Positive Psychology. He was the Chairman of Gallup, Inc. and he also invented the Clifton StrenghsFinder – a strength discovery assessment. Donald passed away in 2003.
The Secret To Developing Your Child’s Genius And Talents