Today, I opened my inbox to find my "weekly insights" from Grammarly. If you're not familiar with Grammarly, it is a cloud-based "typing assistant."
One day I mentioned to a colleague that writing is hard for me, and that often, no matter how many times I "proofread" my work, inevitably, mistakes still appear (after I've sent the email!). I'm sure you've found a typo or two along the way. :) He recommended I try Grammarly.
So, I gave it a try, and I LOVE it.
Yes, it's helpful for checking spelling errors, missing punctuation, and word choice, but do you know what I love the most?
The weekly emails always begin with something positive like, you've reached a NEW MILESTONE, or you've used more UNIQUE WORDS, or you've UNLOCKED a new badge. Then it tells me something encouraging about my progress. This week it was:
You're on fire! You've reached a new weekly streak milestone and unlocked another badge. Great job – keep it up!
It then summarizes my work into three categories: productivity, accuracy, and vocabulary.
It summarizes my work using affirming language and compares it to other Grammarly users, giving me perspective and motivation. This week, I was more productive than 87% of users, more accurate than 76%, and used more unique words by 89%.
Every week, I look forward to opening up this email. Why? Because it shows me my accomplishments and tells me what I'm doing WELL.
This week, for example, I've reached a writing streak of 81 weeks straight! I joined last year, and I've written more than ONE MILLION words. Pretty cool, right?
Ok, you might be asking yourself— what does this have to do with parenting?
Well, it reminded me once again of the power of acknowledgment, validation, and encouragement. Every week, I feel seen (my efforts are noticed), I feel validated (my accomplishments are acknowledged), and I feel encouraged (my perseverance is highlighted).
Wouldn't it be great to do this for our kids?
Let’s start by focusing on their STRENGTHS! When we highlight their strengths, we acknowledge, validate, and encourage them to SEE what they are doing well.
As humans, we are keenly aware of our weaknesses, and we live in a culture/society obsessed with "fixing those weaknesses" instead of building from our strengths.
Our kids receive more "correction" than the average child. They are too often reminded of their mistakes and where they fall short!
Let's be their "soft landing" where they can hear from us what they do WELL.
We can be their "strength mirror" and reflect what they often don't see.
Our kids grow stronger when we build from a place of strength, not weakness.
Are you up for the challenge?
To shift from negative to positive, we first must acknowledge our starting point. "Awareness is the first step to change."
Step 1: Jot down how many times a day you correct, re-direct, admonish, or criticize your kiddo. This is only meant to build awareness (no beating yourself up).
Step 2: Jot down how many times in a day you SHOW them their strength. How many times in a day do you acknowledge what they do well?
Step 3: Write down their strengths. If you're thinking, hmm…I don't really know my kid's strengths; simply start by writing down what you LOVE about them. Try to find 3-5 things and write them down somewhere you can refer to them on a daily basis - maybe on a "notes" app or on an index card you can keep in your purse.
If you still need help identifying their strengths, check out these categories to get your juices flowing.
Honesty, Caring, Kind, Helpful, Loyal, Friendly, Sensitive to the needs of others, Eager, and Curious.
Shares with others, takes turns, is a good listener, takes responsibility, has a good sense of humor, is inclusive, makes friends easily.
Easily expresses wants and needs, likes to talk to others, is a good storyteller, has a good imagination.
Flexible thinker sets goals, is organized, and/or excels in certain subjects (math, science, history, etc.).
Enjoys music, dance, sports, art, nature, animals.
Step 4: Acknowledge and highlight their strengths MORE than you correct, re-direct, or criticize. Relationship experts say the magic number is FIVE positives to ONE negative, which can feel overwhelming, so I believe in taking tiny steps toward our goal. Here's one exercise that will get you moving in the right direction:
Then the next time you talk to your kids, think, "Strengths First." Pull out your list of strengths and things you love about your kids—and choose to highlight one of the things on your list.
"Do you know what I love about you? I love your hugs; I could use one this morning."
"You know what, honey? I was thinking about how well you play with your younger sister. You are so kind and patient with her. I so appreciate that about you!"
"You were a real help today when you helped me bring in the groceries."
Thinking "Strengths First" takes patience, practice, and conscious effort. Often taking the first step is our biggest challenge. Start small, try once a day, and build from there.
Here's to building a "strengths first" relationship with our kiddos!
As always, it's me on the other end of this post. I would love to hear your thoughts, perspective, and WINS! Post in the comments below.
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