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Discovering your Character Strengths

Finding out our own character strengths can be invaluable - recent evidence suggests that recognising and using them daily can help us build happier, more meaningful lives.

"We need people who know how to do the right thing, even when others are not looking. We need to prepare children & young people with strong character strengths so they can lead us into the future"


Our personalities play a very important part in our lives in 3 different ways;

  1. Built into all humans is a search to’ become me’ . Our personality defines our individuality which fulfils our ‘need to be me’ .

  2. Having a positive personality is useful because it helps us be around others, communicate our needs and understand the needs of others.

  3. It is our human instinct to belong to someone or others. Positive characteristics, such as kindness and humour, help us build meaningful relationships with others.

Knowing your own strengths

Everyone including you, your friends, colleagues and each child or young person you live or work with has their own set of character strengths to be discovered, valued and used. When young people discover and use their strengths it gives them a strong base to develop into well-rounded adults.

Before beginning any discussions with young people it's a good idea to consider your own character strengths. In order to be a good role model, you can know your strengths, be proud of them and use them actively. Knowledge of your own strengths can help you to recognise them in others - what makes us good models is not that we are perfect, but that we openly work to improve ourselves​.

There are 6 classes of virtues that are made up of 24 character strengths:

The VIA Character Institute survey can help to establish your strengths and has a youth survey for 8-17 year olds.


Self-esteem & self-confidence

Helping people to build self-esteem and self-confidence is always a sensitive process and it takes time. Our sense of selves is usually created from a mixture of experiences and observations. Initially these observations come from others e.g. a child receives comments, validations, criticisms or acknowledgment from adults.

Whether positive or negative, these observations contribute to our sense of self. In time children internalise these external voices and become their own commentator. In order to develop and grow this voice of judgement, it can be useful to invite them to consider their own positive attributes.

Character Strengths emerge from the field of Positive Psychology which focuses on emphasising positive emotions and strengths in our lives as a way to support psychological wellbeing.

It's important to remember we possess all of the character strengths but in varying levels. We can focus on a handful of our defining "signature strengths" as the first step to building self-esteem.

Our Character Strength Cards are the perfect visual aid for an endless amount of activities.

Character Strengths are a great basis when working with children and young people who suffer from low self-esteem and as an aid to mood-boosting.

Try making a point of noticing their strengths...

  • Thank a child for their honesty in admitting to a mistake.

  • Congratulate a young person on their perseverance in getting a task finished.

  • Say how much you enjoy their humour when a child makes you laugh.

  • Point out their fairness when they treat their friends equally.

  • Tell them how kind they are being when they do a favour without being asked.

  • Show them you are proud of them when they forgive their sister, brother or classmate for having upset them.

  • Tell a child they are showing great courage when you see them coping with a difficult situation, like a parental separation or a bereavement.


Why not focus on an individual strength and look for activities related to it?

e.g. Kindness - Pack up some old clothes and take them to a charity shop, write a thank you card to someone or do a chore for someone that you know they don’t like doing

Helping someone to recognise the depth and richness of their personality and their own signature strengths is a precious and empowering act in itself. The process of owning their strengths and articulating them to someone else leads to a valuable change in how the person sees themselves.

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