Raising Healthy Kids: Tell Them “Who” They Are Before Someone Else Does

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. –Proverbs 22:6 NIV

My wife and I were privileged to raise three wonderful children; two daughters and a son. As a matter of fact, when I look back at those formative years, I simply sum them up as my “Golden Years” of parenting. My wife and I created wonderful memories, and had a great time interacting with them through all vital phases of their development. One of the things I am very proud of as a father was being able to reveal my kids identity before anyone else injected a false identity upon them. What I mean is, my wife and I were able to discern their gifts, talents and passions early on in life, and parented them with their own personal flow in mind. What I mean is, instead of injecting our own personal ambitions upon them, which wasn’t easy since I wanted my son to play baseball (Baseball was not a “fit” for him but football sure made up for it), we took note of what was threaded within each one, and went with what they had.

My younger daughter’s gifts were extremely evident early on. By these giftings I understood her better; who she was becoming, and where she was going in life. Here’s a good example on how much I knew her, and the gifts she possessed within herself. One day my daughter while studying at a Southern California university called me and said, “Daddy, I took a strengths based test and….” Before she could get another word out… I gently cut in, “Is it Gallup’s StrengthsFinder test?” She exclaimed, “How did you know?” I told her, “I once taught the subject in one of my leadership classes, so I’m very familiar with the assessement.” In my leadership class, I had my students take an online test. We then spent a few weeks analyzing Gallup’s 34 Strengths Themes (A well researched and refined list of innate gifts).” I then took a leap of faith and made the following request, “I bet I can guess your top five gifts.” She said, “No way!” Over the phone, one by one, I named all five of her gifts. Astonished, she asked, “Oh my God, how did you know?” I quickly responded, “You’re my daughter. I’ve seen you grow up in my house for the past 20 years. Of course I know what’s in you.” She was beside herself!

Gallup’s Strengths Themes assessment revealed her top five gifts, which are strongly oriented toward the “people” realm. She uses them quite effectively. Here’s her sample:

1. Positivity – This person has an enthusiasm that is contagious. They are upbeat and can get others excited about what they are going to do.

2. Activator – They can make things happen by turning thoughts into action.

3. WOO (Winning Others Over) – They love the challenge of meeting new people and winning them over. They derive satisfaction by “breaking the ice” and making a connection.

4. Communication – This person finds it easy to put their thoughts into words; good conversationalists and presenters.

5. Empathy – They can sense the feelings of other people by imagining themselves in their lives or situation.

Innate gifts are those unique qualities attributed to one person, which are threaded within each person while he or she were being formed in their mother’s womb. My daughter is gifted with natural people, communication and leadership gifts. When she was a child I would often tell her, “You’re going to be the first female, Hispanic President of the United States.” I said this to denote her natural ability with people. Why? She was very popular as a child and in High School; so popular that she was elected to student government all four years. In her senior year, she was elected Student Body President of a large High School, and left an indelible imprint upon her advisor and the school. As a matter of fact a few years after her departure from High School, I visited her school to present a community project I was working on. I happend to land in the principal’s office (funny how things are cyclical), which happened to be her student government advisor at that time. As we reminisced of my daughter’s days as Student Body President, I noticed her student body group picture on his wall. After making a reference to the picture the principal voiced his heart-felt sincerity stating, “They were the best student council group I was privileged to oversee. I miss that group.”

Do you want to build confidence in your child? If so, tell them “who they are” before someone else does. 

What gifts are you discerning in your kids? Once you understand their cluster of “gifts and talents”, how are you grooming them for success?

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