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How to Teach Your Child to Identify Their Strengths – Boost Self Esteem

What’s inside this article: Tips for teaching your child about their strengths and how to identify them, which helps children build confidence and develop a growth mindset. Includes a printable list of strengths to use as a guide.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

Everyone, no matter who you are, has strengths and challenges. Some strengths are easy to notice, and some are more subtle. 

Helping your child identify their strengths is a great way to boost their self-esteem. With increased confidence, you can also coach your child on using their strengths to help overcome some of their challenges.

If your child has challenges that significantly impact their lives – such as anxiety, a learning disability, or a neurodivergence such as autism or ADHD – they may have a hard time seeing their strengths and may deal with low self-esteem. 

Helping them see that everyone has challenges and strengths and knowing their strengths is essential for their self-esteem and mindset.

Teaching Your Child About Strengths

Start by explaining to your child that everyone has strengths, and there are many different kinds of strengths.

Sometimes these strengths are obvious, like when someone excels at singing or playing a sport. But, often, strengths are a bit harder to notice, such as patience or being accepting of other people’s differences. 

You can use this free printable list of strengths, and the strengths and challenges worksheet below to help you.

Strengths and Challenges

Note: When you’re identifying challenges alongside strengths, you should always point out more strengths than weaknesses. You don’t want to make your child feel discouraged. That’s why the worksheet asks you to list 7 strengths and 3 challenges.

List of Strengths

There are so many different strengths your child may have. Heres’s a list of some to help you get started. These are the same strengths as the printable above.

List of child strengths:

  • honest
  • trustworthy
  • caring
  • kind
  • empathetic
  • loyal
  • hard working
  • resilient
  • independent
  • cooperative
  • shares
  • accepts differences in others
  • asks for help
  • good sense of humor
  • self-starter
  • focused
  • flexible thinker
  • understanding
  • good problem solver
  • brave
  • creative
  • patient
  • respectful
  • dependable
  • friendly
  • enthusiastic
  • determined
  • open minded
  • motivated
  • optimistic
  • responsible
  • persistent
  • assertive
  • sociable
  • analytical
  • positive attitude
  • forgiving
  • generous
  • confident
  • playful
  • athletic
  • compassionate
  • thoughtful
  • humble
  • appreciative
  • non judgmental
  • talented at ______________

What Are Your Child’s Strengths?

If you, and your child, both go through the list above separately and check off all of the strengths applicable to your child, and then compare lists, chances are you will have very different answers.

Most likely, you’ll check off significantly more strengths than your child did.

The problem is, many kids don’t notice the things they do well. When you have a child who learns and thinks differently, you probably notice they get discouraged easily, too. That’s because they may struggle with things more often than other kids their age.

If this is the case for your child, there are a few ways you can help them see their strengths.

How to Help Your Child See Their Strengths

The more “good” your child sees in themselves, the happier and more confident they will be. Here are a few ways to help your child recognize their strengths.

Acknowledge Their Strengths Verbally

Instead of just saying “great job” or “I like your drawing”, use words that acknowledge their strengths when pointing out your child’s accomplishments.

For example “You were very patient while we waited at the doctor’s office today” or “I like the way you colored that picture, the color choices really show off your creativity

You should also acknowledge their strengths, even when they aren’t finding success. For example “I know you can’t ride your bike yet, but you keep trying because you’re such a determined and persistent person, those efforts will pay off”

Create an Accomplishments Box

This simple activity is an easy way to help your child recognize their own strengths.

Get your child to decorate an empty tissue box however they like and display the box somewhere in your home or classroom.

When you notice your child doing something well, write it down and put it in the accomplishment box.

Also, get your child to try to make one of their own notes for the accomplishment box each day. If this is challenging, try prompts such as:

  • What’s something you worked hard on today?
  • What’s something you’re getting better at doing?
  • What are you proud of?
  • Did you help someone with something today?
  • Did you learn anything new today?

With time, your child will be able to write their own accomplishment notes for the box more easily. They’ll also see the notes grow as time goes on and you should take out the notes and read them together occasionally.

Complete the Challenges Kit from Big Life Journal

Big Life Journal offers a variety of tools and activities to help kids develop a growth mindset.

I recommend their Challenges Kit specifically when trying to help your child recognize their strengths. The challenges kit includes 5 different challenges:

  • 5-Day Growth Mindset Challenge
  • 5-Day Self-Love Challenge
  • 7-Day Positivity Challenge
  • 7-Day Gratitude Challenge
  • 5-Day Friendship Challenge

The self-love challenge in particular focuses on learning to identify strengths. But combined, these challenges help children develop a positive mindset, build self-esteem and confidence, supports social-emotional learning, and help your child see their strengths.

Designed for all learning styles, every challenge includes fun multisensory activities to help children develop a positive attitude and healthy mental habits.

These are adult-directed activities. The adult helping is the “Challenge Buddy”. This makes these challenges a great opportunity to spend special quality time writing, drawing, playing, and discussing strengths with your child.

The Challenges Kit is available on the Big Life Journal Website.

Build Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is one component of social-emotional development.

Self-awareness includes:

  • Identifying emotions
  • Accurate self-perception
  • Recognizing strengths
  • Self-confidence
  • Self-efficacy (having a ‘growth mindset’)

There are many ways to build on this skill. The better your child is at identifying their emotions, the easier it becomes for them to recognize strengths, and also to recognize their behaviors and thought patterns.

The Zones of Regulation is one Social Emotional Learning program that focuses heavily on this area. You can find some printables and other activities here.

If these are new skills for your child, you may need to start teaching about body awareness and emotional awareness before you can build more advanced skills like recognizing strengths and accurate self-perception.

Focus on Activities They Enjoy

People naturally gravitate towards activities that bring out their strengths, even if they don’t realize it. Think about what your child likes to do for fun, and why that might be.

When an activity is bringing out your child’s strengths they are probably able to sustain focus for long periods of time, find the activity fun and engaging, and perform well at the activity. Think of something your child likes and consider which of the strengths your child’s using while engaging in that activity.

Putting focus and energy into their “thing” builds their confidence, gives them something to feel proud of. And those activities could be anything and are different for different children.

For example, my son likes to design houses on the computer. He’s extremely creative, and he’s a visual thinker so he can imagine something in his head and bring it to life on the screen. He’s always been this way and when he was younger he would build with blocks and wooden train tracks.

My daughter is in competitive cheerleading. The obvious strength is athleticism, however, she’s also very aware of her body, and learning a new skill showcases her devotion and perseverance.

When doing something challenging, I’m able to use those activities to remind them what they’re capable of. For example, my daughter struggles with reading and says it’s too hard. I remind her “Remember when you couldn’t do a cartwheel because that was too hard? But you practiced, and now a cartwheel is easy. Reading is hard for you, but the more you practice the easier it will be.”

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