Every parent wants their child to develop the skills to construct a satisfying life – one full of purpose and meaning, positive emotions, successful relationships, accomplishments and well-being.
Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer studies characteristics of individuals who report the highest levels of life satisfaction and found that those who are generous, loving, authentic, direct and open to new experience have the greatest life satisfaction and well-being.
Dr. Martin Seligman, considered the father of positive psychology, adds that those with the highest levels of well-being report an abundance of positive emotions, are fully engaged in the world around them, nurture mature and satisfying relationships, identify meaning and purpose to their lives and celebrate accomplishments.
But how do you teach your child these skills? One technique is to help your child identify their top five character strengths and allow them to pursue activities and environments where their strengths shine.
Broadly, there are six categories of strengths that individuals naturally possess.
Wisdom – acquiring and using knowledge
- a love of learning
Courage – accomplishing goals in the face of opposition
Humanity – befriending and tending to others
- capacity to express love
- social and emotional intelligence
Justice – strengths that build community
Temperance – strengths that protect us against excess
- forgiveness and mercy
- prudence and discretion
Transcendence – strengths that connect us to the larger universe
Assisting your children to call upon their top five strengths to solve problems, learn new skills, face difficult challenges and engage in the world around them will lead to higher life satisfaction, increase their ability to bounce back from misfortune, and improve self-esteem.
Daniel Trussell, Ph.D., MBA, LPC is the author of How Families Flourish and Breaking Free: Using Positive Psychology to Conquer Depression. He provides training to mental health professionals and coaches on applied positive psychology. To learn more, visit www.howfamiliesflourish.com.