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Wellbeing News – 13 June 2019


A Focus on Strengths in Relationships

In her book The Strength Switch, Dr Lea Waters writes about the benefits of strengths based parenting. She challenges us to shift our focus from weakness and areas of improvement as our starting point, to identifying and emphasising the strengths of our children and each other. She says, “We mistakenly believe that the way to make our kids optimistic and resilient is to weed out all their weaknesses. Strength-based science show the opposite is true. It tells us to turn the bulk of our attention to expanding their strengths rather than reducing their weaknesses”. In this way, where we pay our attention is where we will see the most energy spent and it is most productive and beneficial for this to be on areas of strength.

According to her research, and other studies, teenager who experience strength-based parenting report better psychological outcomes, including:

  • Higher levels of life satisfaction
  • Higher amounts of positive emotions
  • A better understanding of their own strengths
  • Using their strengths to help with academic and social situations
  • Coping with stress in proactive ways and experiencing lower levels of day to day stress
  • Higher grades


To help us identify strengths in others, Dr Lea Waters outlines 3 signs for us to look out for. These signs point towards a strength area to focus on.

  1. Do I see performance?

When I look at this person and what they do, where do they perform better than the average? Where do they reach they personal best? Where are they proud of their own achievements?

  1. Do I see energy?

What brings joy and energy to this person? What stories get told with a lot of excitement or interest?

  1. Do I see high use?

What activity can the person do for hours because they love it so much? What do they fall in to wanting to do regularly?

Of course, we don’t just want our young people on video games (for example), because that is what we see them enjoy and spend hours on. A focus on strengths calls us to look for those element of character and life-purpose which call us to be the best possible version of ourselves. A great starting point for this strengths-based approach is the exploration of character strengths which is outlined below.

Information from: Book – The Strength Switch by Dr Lea Waters


Character Strengths

For a number of years now, the College has been committed to a strengths-based approach to working with students. The VIA institute on Character has informed much of our work in helping young people to identity and enhance their individual character strengths. Even when things go wrong we can often reflect on a character strength that has been ‘overplayed’ or ‘underplayed’ that has led to the challenge. For example, while honesty is a great character strength and we can all identify people who we value for their integrity and authenticity, there is clearly such a things as too much honesty. A strength like honesty in ‘overplay’ can lead to hurt feelings and damage to relationships. However, the more we can understand and fine tune our strengths the more positive influence they can have on our day to day lives.

Knowing your character strengths isn’t just interesting information. When skillfully applied, character strengths can actually have a significant positive impact on your life. Research shows that using your character strengths can help you:

  • Buffer against, manage and overcome problems
  • Improve your relationships
  • Enhance health and overall well-being

According the research done to create the VIA Character Strengths, every individual possesses all 24 Character Strength in different degrees, giving each person a unique character profile. To examine these strengths and explore your personal strengths, there is more information and a survey on the VIA website.

Information from:


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