Grégory Besnard is the author of the blog “ des sciences pour changer de vie ”. Through the content he offers, his wish is to make concrete concepts and applications, scientifically proven, available to as many people as possible, allowing everyone to lead a happier and more fulfilling life.
As parents, we are often confused when it comes to the “personality” of our dear toddlers.
On the one hand, we are inclined to think that the education we provide necessarily plays a role in the development of their personality and at the same time we can also feel that they manifest personality traits very early on. regardless of our actions.
Moreover, it is not uncommon to hear around us sentences of the style “It is naturally this or that: nice, shy, jealous, happy …”
When these “natural” personality traits strike us as positive and socially valued, we usually don’t ask ourselves more questions. On the other hand, when these are more negative and they seem to us to be able to harm our child, we worry about the means at our disposal to influence the situation.
In view of these prerequisites, I will present in this article a way to support your children in the development of a positive personality that will lead them to live their life on solid foundations.
But before that, a quick review of the notion of personality is in order.
What is personality?
To define the personality without going into overly convoluted conceptions, it is possible to say that it is about: “all the psychological characteristics of a person which make him a unique and original being”.
These characteristics, which are commonly referred to as “character traits” (for example: shy, open, generous, happy, angry, etc.) are relatively stable throughout a person’s life and influence their ways of thinking and thinking. ‘to act. They therefore have an extremely important role in the daily life of each of us.
In view of the weight of character traits in our life, it is legitimate to wonder about the way in which the personality is built and especially about the levers we have as parents to ensure that the personality of our children. serve and allow them to be comfortable in their shoes.
Towards a positive personality: strengths of character
Using the definition of personality that I gave just above, I would say that a positive personality is “a set of character traits that make a person (adult or child) unique, original and HAPPY”.
In short, a positive personality leads an individual to feel positive emotions, resilience (that is to say an ability to face and recover following a negative event) and therefore fulfillment.
For some time, under the impetus of positive psychology, a body of research has been carried out with the objective of highlighting the personality traits that lead people to behaviors recognized as socially good and allowing people who express them to lead a life that they consider fulfilling and happy.
These positive personality traits, the researchers gave them the name of “character strengths”.
To bring them to light, a number of scientists have embarked on a somewhat crazy project (let’s face it): To study all the great teachings and writings produced by the various human civilizations over time to identify the personality traits they value. I grant you it’s been a bit of a job …
Very concretely, these researchers (a little crazy) have read and analyzed multiple sources such as the work of great philosophers and thinkers (Plato, Socrates, Confucius, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson …), the major writings on spirituality (La Bible, the Koran, the Talmud …), certain specific codes linked to martial arts (such as bushido which is the code of the samurai) but also song lyrics, artistic works such as novels … and I omit a large part of them that goes without saying.
In all, 3 millennia of human production have been scientifically and systematically milled.
The results of this titanic work reveal 24 strengths of character that can be classified according to 6 fundamental virtues.
Let me do the introductions …
Just before, I would like to tell you that I am fully aware that the following list of strengths may seem a bit long to you. And indeed, for presentations 24 new things, that’s a lot of people. Do not be afraid of it and simply remember that these forces exist and that they represent 24 opportunities for the development of your children …
First fundamental virtue: wisdom and knowledge
This virtue brings together 6 forces that allow the acquisition and use of knowledge aimed at serving a full and rich life.
Strength # 1: Curiosity and interest in the world
Curious people are on the lookout for anything that comes their way. They like to have new experiences, they are not bored easily and are open to unusual ideas.
Strength # 2: The love of knowledge
If your motto is “No matter what, it’s always a learning opportunity,” you are certainly expressing that strength of character. People who love learning take pleasure in learning and mastering new skills and knowledge even when setbacks and negative feelings arise.
Strength n ° 3: Critical thinking and open-mindedness
Critical people look at things and situations in all their facets to make robust evidence-based decisions. So, for them, deciding on the basis of their intuition is certainly not the best way to proceed. Finally, individuals expressing this strength do not consider changing their minds to be evidence of weakness.
Strength n ° 4: ingenuity and resourcefulness
The ingenious seek, whatever the circumstances, for ways to achieve their goal. They are imaginative and like to find original ways of doing things. People expressing this strength tend to be independent, open to new experiences, have multiple interests and take risks easily.
Strength # 5: emotional intelligence
It is a force that allows people who manifest it to be aware of their emotions and to master them before taking action. They are therefore not impulsive. They also perceive what others are feeling and know how to adapt to it, which allows them to communicate with everyone.
Strength n ° 6: Perspective and discernment
People with discernment have a clear vision of what is most important to them in their life. They know how to make sense of what is happening to them and cope with uncertainty very well. Usually, these people are asked by others to give them advice.
2nd fundamental virtue: Courage
This virtue brings together 3 forces that allow us to achieve our objectives and goals when we have to face adversity, oppositions and fears.
Strength # 7: Bravery
The brave are people who do not shy away from threat, pain or unpopularity to achieve something they deem good for themselves and / or for others. In short, they are not easily defeated. However, they do not act recklessly in the sense that they understand the risks they run.
Strength n ° 8: Perseverance
For a perseverant, it is essential to always finish what he started and to respect his commitments in all circumstances. A person who demonstrates this strength is not easily distracted when he achieves something.
Strength # 9: Integrity and Honesty
People with this strength cannot stand lying either to others or to themselves. They are clear about their feelings and intentions and they communicate them easily.
3rd fundamental virtue: Love and humanity
The 2 forces that make up this virtue bear witness to the care taken to establish good relationships with others.
Strength n ° 10: Kindness and generosity
Kindness characterizes people who see the other as important just for themselves. As a result, they are genuine individuals, always ready to be of service even to people they do not know. They sincerely rejoice in the happiness of others.
Strength # 11: Love and the Permission to Be Loved
Those with this strength enjoy being close to others and care about the well-being of those who matter to them. At the same time, they are aware that they are also important to some people and have no difficulty in accepting love and affection from them.
4th fundamental virtue: Justice
In this virtue are 3 forces that promote positive and constructive cooperation with others.
Strength n ° 12: Citizenship and teamwork
People showing this strength of citizenship identify with a community or group. They enjoy working with others to achieve a common goal. Therefore, they are ready to sacrifice their personal interest in order to work for the common good. They are loyal and have a sense of duty.
Strength n ° 13: Impartiality and fairness
Fair people seek justice and believe that in similar cases everyone should be treated the same. Their motto could be “Everyone should have their chance”, which applies even to people they don’t like.
Strength # 14: Leadership
People with the quality of leadership like to organize activities involving several collaborators. They ensure that these activities are successful while ensuring that this is done on the basis of good relationships between people. They have an intelligence that allows them to influence, lead, motivate and help others to bring the group to success.
5th fundamental virtue: Temperance
The 3 forces of temperance protect against excess.
Strength # 15: Self-control
Self-mastery or control is characterized by the ability to regulate one’s wants and needs to achieve a particular goal. A person with this ability can easily restrict themselves and control their impulses to achieve their goals.
Strength n ° 16: Caution
Cautious people pay particular attention to the potential consequences of their decisions or actions. Before taking action, they reflect in depth on their future and ensure that all the conditions are favorable to them. In short, they like to plan things in advance.
Strength # 17: Humility and Modesty
If you are the bearer of this strength, you do not try to put yourself forward and prefer to let your actions speak for you. Modest individuals are aware and accept their limits, they know how to recognize their mistakes, are open to opposing arguments and advice. On the other hand, they are happy to change the subject when they are complimented.
6th fundamental virtue: Transcendence
The 7 character forces of transcendence allow people to build links with the universe and give deep meaning to their lives.
Strength n ° 18: The appreciation of beauty and excellence
People who appreciate beauty take pleasure in contemplating what is beautiful in the universe. They can appreciate the physical beauty of nature (stars, trees that lose their leaves in autumn, sunsets, landscapes …) but also experience wonder when they witness great qualities or feats (in art, science, sport….).
Strength n ° 19: Gratitude
In someone, gratitude is expressed by the importance he places on thanks, even for small things. In short, he knows how to thank for what happens to him good. Gratitude can be addressed to other people or to a higher power like a god for example.
Force # 20: Hope and optimism
Hope is a positive orientation towards the future. A person with this strength knows that the future is going to bring good things for him if he works hard for it. She has a natural tendency to see the bright side of things.
Strength n ° 21: Spirituality
A spiritual individual believes that there is a dimension in life that is beyond him. For him, it is obvious that something bigger exists. This belief guides him in his actions and is a source of comfort in more difficult times.
Strength n ° 22: Forgiveness and mercy
Kind people considered the past to be the past. They forgive easily and adopt the motto “Everyone has the right to another chance”
Strength n ° 23: humor
People who are good at humor love to laugh and make people laugh. In addition, they know, in this way, to take a step back in the face of adversity and make others smile in difficult situations.
Strength n ° 24: Lust and vitality
People with vitality wake up impatiently each morning to think about the day ahead. They are generally in good physical shape and go all out in what they do.
What does the expression of strengths of character bring to children?
One of the main scientific lessons about strengths of character is that the most fulfilled and happy children (like adults for that matter) are those who act in accordance with the strengths most present in them.
Thus, the expression of these forces has for our children several interrelated benefits:
- They allow them to experience and feel positive emotions
- They boost their self-esteem
- They facilitate their development and learning
- They promote their sense of usefulness for others and for the world in a more global way
In the end, they lead them to live a life tending towards happiness and fulfillment.
How to support your children in the development of their strengths of character?
Before offering you a concrete application that will allow you to accompany your children on the beneficial slope of a positive personality, it seems relevant to me to mention 3 things:
- In my opinion, it seems to me that this application can be carried out in its entirety with children from 7/8 years old. Of course, this is only an indication and, as parents, you are in the best position to feel the best way to proceed.
- The learning of strengths of character is done in the same way as happens for the acquisition of language. Thus, each newborn has the capacity to learn any of the 24 forces and it is through his experiences that he forges some of them and puts others further back. It is by looking for areas and ways of behaving that bring him praise, love and attention that he does this blacksmith work.
- This application is freely inspired by the works of DAHLSGAARD and PETERSON & SELIGMAN
1st step: Identify with your child his most developed character strengths
- Using the description of each of the strengths of character that you have just read identify the main strengths of your child, those that you have perceived in him. The idea is to retain the 4 or 5 forces that seem most present to you.
- Write down for each force you identified a recent and admirable little event in which it expressed that force.
For example, if you see that your child forgives easily and that he therefore shows the strength of character of FORGIVENESS, you can illustrate this by noting that the last time his brother or sister broke one of his toys, after him having said that he was not happy, he was able to tell her quickly that it was not so serious and that he did not blame her anymore.
- Go to your child and offer to make, with him, a little game that will allow you to know all these things that he can do well and that bring him joy.
- If your child is able to understand and complete the table below, let them identify their strengths in private. Ask him to come back to you when he’s finished.
- If your child is not yet ready to do this exercise on their own, help them.
- Based on your answers and those of your child, discuss with him in order to make him fully aware of his strengths of character. You can do this by using the following questions:
- What are the strengths that you have?
- What does this strength mean to you?
- Can you give me an example of a time when you had this strength?
- How did you feel in this situation?
- Then tell him the strengths you saw in him and the examples in which he manifested them.
- Collect together the strengths of character that are most present in your child.
- Ask him what he remembers from this little game and congratulate him for all these forces that are in him and that he knows so well how to express.
2nd step: Get your child to express his strengths of character as often as possible
To do this, here are 2 tips:
- Tip # 1: Value all manifestations of one of the strengths of character in your child.
For example, if your child made you laugh when you were not in good shape, value them and thank them for their humor, or if your child was able to stop playing a game on their own. to help set the table, point out to him that you appreciate his self-control.
- Tip # 2: Allow your child to express their personal strengths as often as possible in family activities.
For example, if your child has the strength to CURIOSITY ask him to research a question that you do not have the answer to and then praise him. Likewise, if it is LEADERSHIP’s strength, ask them to organize a game for the whole family for the next vacation …
In this exercise, there is no limit. To your imagination then …
I have come to the end of this article, you are free to make your own experiences knowing that you are in no way likely to do anything wrong.
A small thank you to Camille and Olivier for allowing me to publish on this blog which is, I must say, excellent. Thank you and BRAVO to you.
My references and sources of inspiration …
Martin-Krumm, C. (2011). Treatise on positive psychology. De Boeck.
Seligman, ME (2011). La fabrique du Bonheur: Experience the benefits of positive psychology on a daily basis. Prohibitions.
Gaucher, R. (2010). Positive psychology: Or the scientific study of the best of ourselves. Editions L’Harmattan.