Ask the Experts

Four Ways to Foster Your Child’s Strengths

Four ways to help your child succeed by recognizing – and developing – his talents.

“People with ADHD improve their chances for success by focusing on their natural talents — the ones that consistently yield excellent performance — and by developing a plan to make those talents even stronger,” says ADHD coach David Giwerc. How to help your child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD) do this?

1. Change your perspective. Don’t ignore your child’s weak points, but don’t overlook her strengths either. What is she good at? What does she enjoy doing? In which subjects does she excel? Observe your child closely.

2. Be encouraging. Once you identify your child’s natural abilities, encourage him to make the most of them (but don’t push). Tell him how proud you are. You may wish to start keeping a “success diary,” in which you record his achievements. Praise from parents goes a long way toward encouraging self-esteem.

3. Enlist teachers’ help. Let them know of the talents you’ve noticed in your child – and ask if they have noticed any others. Suggest that they find ways to hone these abilities. If your daughter is a math whiz, for instance, perhaps her teacher could challenge her with more advanced material. If your son loves music, maybe his English teacher could allow him to write reports on his favorite composers or performers.

4. Create a “safe” environment. Some kids exhibit their strengths only in the right environment. One child might be extremely creative – but only if he’s allowed to “talk to himself” while brainstorming. Another might be a spellbinding storyteller – but only if she’s permitted to pace around the room or rock in a chair as she talks. Let your child do whatever it takes to succeed – and see if his teacher will, as well – even if his behavior seems unusual.