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What are Your Child’s Assets?

22 09 2006

by The National Center for Fathering

Dad, are you more likely to point out what your child does wrong, or what he does right? The Search Institute in Minnesota affirms the value of positive reinforcement for children. They surveyed over two million youth to help determine the effects of the assets at work in their lives. Their research revealed a strong correlation between the number of assets present in young people’s lives and the degree to which they develop in positive and healthful ways. They identified 40 assets that help young people grow up well-adjusted, caring, and responsible. For fathers, these findings highlight the importance of staying positive when relating to our children — focusing on their assets and helping them build on those instead of falling into the habit of being critical or dwelling on negatives.

To Think About …

Rick Johnson recently wrote a book for fathers of sons where, in one chapter, he lists 10 common mistakes that dads would do well to avoid.his week’s topic speaks to mistake #1 — emphasizing weaknesses instead of strengths or assets. For many dads, the first tendency is to notice and point out what a child does wrong. After all, mistakes or shortcomings are probably more likely to cause a bother or inconvenience, and every dad wants to make sure his children know what behaviors are unacceptable.

But it’s more productive for our children if we notice and point out their strengths, gifts and assets. As Rick notes, we need to discover what they are good at, what they enjoy, and how their temperament, personality, and even physical build fit into the equation. Then, by focusing on those assets and cultivating them in our children’s lives, we can help create more positive experiences for them, build up their self-esteem, and set them up for more success in life.

Rick’s list of “mistakes all dads make” includes avoiding physical affection, giving too little time, and forgetting to have fun. Get a copy of Rick’s book — with free shipping this week — to learn more about avoiding that top 10 list.

In the Trenches …

Trainer Spotlight: Rick Johnson is one of about 900 men who have been trained to lead seminars and workshops using our materials. He now leads a non-profit organization in Oregon called Better Dads, which is dedicated to strengthening fathers and families. He also has a unique
outreach (and book) for single moms with sons.

Action Points for Committed Dads

* Pay careful attention to how you talk to your children — not only the words, but also tone and volume. Make every effort to be positive, and avoid being even mildly sarcastic or degrading.
* Check out the Search Institute’s asset lists and, together with your children’s mother, review the appropriate lists for your children. Brainstorm together and come up with at least one way you can help each of your children develop one of the assets.

* Try to take the word “don’t” out of your vocabulary when speaking to your kids in order to help you (and them) focus on a positive target rather than on mistakes or weaknesses.
* Take advantage of opportunities to praise your child in front of others.
* What are your strengths and areas for improvement as a dad? Take a self-scoring survey on your involvement in your child’s education here, or take a more extensive one here.

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