monthly action plan:

10 steps you can take to help your child develop their character strengths


Welcome to your character strengths action plan.

Below we set out 10 practical steps you can take that will help you to:

  • create the right home environment so that character strengths become part of the day to day family conversation
  • develop your child's character strengths

1. take the VIA
strengths survey

Before you do anything, you will need to take the free VIA Character Strength Survey. There's one for adults and one for kids (age 10-17). It's definitely worth you taking the survey-not only will you find out what makes you tick, it also helps you understand your kids' character strengths much better as you have a personal reference to relate to.

If your child is at the lower end of the 10-17 age range, we'd recommend that you sit with them as they take the test to answer any questions.

2. talk about strengths the right way

Your survey results will rank your strengths in order- highest strength to lowest- and before you begin to discuss character strengths it's important to recognise a few points:

  • each of us has and uses ALL 24 character strengths
  • strengths lower down the list are not weaknesses, often they are strengths that are underused, underdeveloped, or are used only in certain situations
  • the report is a snapshot of where you are right now- all strengths can be developed and improved
  • each strength is a positive aspect of character and can be used for good

3. make strengths

We found it great fun to go through each other's profiles, and after discussing our individual strengths, we printed the profiles out and put them up on the kitchen wall as it was easier to make reference to strengths during our family interactions.

We'd also recommend that you print the VIA character strengths poster and put that next to your individual strength reports, that way you have the strengths organised into their respective values groups- it will make life easier especially with the next step.

4. catch your
kids using their strengths

The next thing for you to do is to catch your kids using their strengths and then praise them for doing so.

Most of us tend to guide our kids by correcting their mistakes, consciously steering your mind away from this approach and towards appreciation is what Dr. Waters describes as flicking the ‘strength switch’. 

This is why it helps to have the strengths profiles and the strengths poster where you can see them. 

5. make sure that you praise properly

When you praise your child it's important to explain why you are praising them otherwise the praise can seem empty, so make sure you follow up the 'well done' bit with a specific reason.

"Well done for showing your PERSEVERANCE there. I'm impressed with the way that you kept on trying even when you didn't get it the first time."

A big smile and a high-five also helps to reinforce the positive message.

6. look for strengths all around you

Each day we are presented with many opportunities to witness character strengths in action- in books, TV shows, films, experiences you had a work, things that happen at school, when you go to the shops. People display their character strengths ALL the time, get used to spotting them, this helps you and your child become fluent in the language. Again it helps if you have the poster and the survey reports where they can be seen.

7. develop strengths

You might look at your child's report and see some key strengths languishing at the bottom of the list and be tempted to go in to 'fix it' mode. It's worth remembering that kids are growing and some strengths such as perspective come with age, also studies show that it is better to develop strengths than fixing so-called weaknesses.

Having said that ALL strengths can be developed and if you feel that your child could so with a boost in a particular strength we recommend tackling just ONE at a time and we've designed a tool that will help.

8. regular discussions

When you schedule something, it tends to happen, so schedule a time to actually discuss character strengths. It can be daily or weekly, frequency is not as important as actual execution. We like to do it at the dinner table where our strengths profiles are on the wall.

Remember, character strengths are rarely expressed in isolation, have fun exploring how many your child uses. 

9. plan ahead using strengths

This is a great thing to do and it's tremendously helpful to do it regularly.

Ask your child what they have coming up (that day or that week) and ask them to think about the character strength or strengths they might want, or need to use.

This helps them to see their strengths as resources to be called upon when required. 

If the situation requires a lower rated strength, work through ways they could approach that situation using that strength. 

This is a great exercise to do as a family as you can draw on the strengths and experiences of others.

10. practice
makes perfect

What you believe about who you are and what you are capable of will help to determine how successful you are in life. In order for you to BELIEVE something, you have to have  EVIDENCE to support that belief and the more evidence that you have, the STRONGER your BELIEF.

Help your child to gather the evidence they need to support the belief that they are RESILIENT, using our checklist below. Pop it on the fridge and ask your child each day if they can check off a behaviour.

don't let your kids sleepwalk into their future

In a world where a traditional education is no longer a competitive advantage, we'll help you to teach your kids the skills they need to thrive in school and beyond.