Every Monday, I’ll post about discovering genuine hope and authentic answers for living a healthy life.

little girl studyingRight attitudes toward our weaknesses are essential. Without them, we may struggle to meet our five needs in healthy ways. For instance, as I explained to a group of teenagers last week and as I’ve blogged about before, spelling isn’t my strength. Imagine if it was a bigger deal to me than it needs to be. Imagine if I hadn’t found ways to compensate. I might answer the core questions like this:

  • Security: Who can I trust? I can’t trust myself. I can’t even spell well!
  • Identity: Who am I? I’m stupid. Spelling is hard for me.
  • Belonging: Who Wants me? I have friends, but I better not let them know spelling isn’t easy for me. They won’t like me as much anymore.
  • Purpose: Why am I alive? Not being able to spell well is going to make lots of things impossible.
  • Competence: What do I do well? Not spelling!

How can we help children understand their weaknesses in healthy ways with a healthy perspective? Teach them that weaknesses don’t make them weak and having weaknesses doesn’t mean they’re stupid or bad. Make sure you really believe that so they can believe you! Also, weaknesses don’t negate strengths. Everyone has some strengths and some weaknesses.

If you know why your son may be struggling with something, let him know. Children benefit from knowing causes. It helps them believe it’s not stupidity. For example, spelling is hard for me because I’m not very picture smart so I can’t remember what the word looked like the last time I saw it. And, because I’m logic smart, I get frustrated when spelling “rules” don’t apply. Knowing these legitimate causes of spelling difficulty has made it easier for me to own the challenge and to know I’m not stupid.

Sometimes relationships can be strengthened by helping children find peers with similar weaknesses so they know they’re not alone. Peers may be able to work together to help each other improve. They can also be encouraged to talk honestly about their challenges with new friends so they’re not worried the weakness may be discovered in an awkward way.

Make sure children know their strengths. It helps them believe they can still have purpose and accomplish great things. What examples from your life could you share about using strengths rather than succumbing to weaknesses? Share my example, if you think it would encourage them. Spelling challenges me and I’ve still written two books and hundreds of articles. We can’t let weaknesses win!

Children can also learn to use strengths to compensate for weaknesses. For example, I’m word smart and genuinely enjoy words. Therefore, I’ve always enjoyed the thesaurus. I use one on my computer when writing and it’s a great way to find words I might not initially know how to spell. For example, I found out how to spell “picturesque” by looking up “pretty” in the thesaurus rather than trying to find “picturesque” in the dictionary.

I also have typed many words I often get wrong into the auto-correct function of the Word software I’m using when creating this blog. This way, the words are automatically corrected rather than highlighted as wrong. Make sure your children know to do that and to also right click on the words that are wrong to find the correct spelling.

Another tool I use is a Misspellers Dictionary. It allows me to look up the word the way I think it should be spelled to find the correct spelling. Especially when I don’t have my computer, it’s a life-saver.

It’s not that I don’t want to improve, but I know there’s a limit to my growth so having tools and strengths to rely on is wise. Observe children carefully so you can help them know if trying more, studying differently, tutoring, or other aides might help. If you think they will, then by all means, your children should keep working on improving the weak area. But, when we know these things aren’t helping, it does more damage than good to keep insisting children improve. Rather, help them own the weakness, but not be controlled by it.