Mental health treatment providers and educators must work collaboratively with children and families to identify their unique skills, talents and interests. They should build on the positives to help kids and families have their needs met and solve life’s challenges. Currently, most schools and treatment providers are working to integrate a strengths-based framework into everything they do.
First, the program or school should start with a strengths-based assessment. Your child’s teacher, your family’s therapist, or you, should ask as many questions about skills and interests as they do about problems. A strength is something that gives your family or your child a sense of accomplishment (being a good cook, funny, athletic or artistic).
Next, any program that is truly strengths-based will put your involvement and your partnership at a premium. Without you trying to help your child succeed, they will not be successful in their effort. Strengths-based approaches focus on developing skills for the future. We now know the main areas of focus for youth who are struggling should be to help them develop strong relationships with caring adults, improve in school, have safe places to play, gain skills to bring into the workplace as they grow up, have opportunities to serve others, and to have constructive things to do.
In addition, to help anyone with emotional or behavioral difficulties heal and be successful, they need to manage stress, eat healthy, exercise, and sleep well.
Remember you do not have to work with a professional to benefit from strengths-based perspectives. Try it tonight. When you sit around the table with your family, ask everyone to say one nice thing about the other person. Or try yourself to notice and talk about one strength in each of your children. Watch how focusing on the positive can change the way your family life feels and the way you and your kids feel about yourselves!