Strengths and Weaknesses

By Leslie Interiano, Launch Specialist

Life is short and yet we spend it worrying constantly about everything.  And the worrying starts when we are very young.  Look around! Most of our children, teens and young adults, stress constantly. They compare themselves against the expectations of others, against their own overblown expectations and most of the time, the result of this comparison is not positive.

What is the best medicine for this stress?  Are there any preventive measures that can be taken to better prepare our children for the world they live in?

I believe the key to this issue is found in self-acceptance.  Though it sounds too adult and complicated to apply to those who are young, the truth of the matter is that unless our children can see themselves for who they are, they will continue to want to be who they are not.

Therefore, we should engage our children in conversations that help them define their strengths and their weaknesses.  A child needs to understand early on that he/she is the “perfect” balance of strengths and weaknesses.    Some super heroes fly while others have super strength.   And it is in that unique set of qualities that the child should find empowerment.

It is crucial for pre-teens, teenagers and young adults to internalize this important concept.  They are at risk of succumbing to negative influences if they do not define themselves and if they are not ready to stand by that definition.  They should be asked:

  • What do you think you are good at?
  • Why do you think that?
  • Are there any areas that you think you could improve on?
  • Why do you think that?

This situation materialized for me this weekend during a conversation with a fellow mother.  Her youngest daughter, age 11, stresses out constantly about her grades and about her ability to cope with academic pressure.  Her grades are good and she should not be worrying. However, she has established a negative comparison that has made her unsure about her abilities.  If I could sit down with her, I would ask her to make a list of her strengths and would encourage her to think about the uniqueness of her qualities.  With that list in hand, we would talk about where she wants to go, where she sees herself and how to get there.  At the end of the conversation, she would know about her strengths, she would be able to talk about them and she would have a clear vision of herself and her path.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of this concept.  I try to engage my girls quite frequently in this type of dialogue.  It may not always go smoothly, but I know that I have planted a seed in their minds.  They will be more open to noticing a compliment, taking criticism and turning it into positive action, to making a good decision and avoiding the pitfalls that may come from social pressures.