Types of strengths in kids

By Amanda Morin

Kids have many different kinds of strengths. Sometimes these strengths are obvious, like when a child is really good at drawing or playing sports. But some strengths can be harder to notice — like being a good listener or working well in groups.

Recognizing and talking about these strengths can help kids thrive. This is especially true for kids who are struggling in school. Use this list to help identify a child’s strengths.

Character strengths

  • Is honest and trustworthy
  • Is caring, kind, and empathetic
  • Helps others
  • Shows loyalty
  • Works hard
  • Is resilient
  • Shows independence
  • Cooperates

Social strengths

  • Shares, takes turns, and can compromise
  • Puts effort into making friends and keeping them
  • Is a good listener
  • Accepts differences in others
  • Asks for help when needed
  • Accepts personal responsibility for actions (good and bad)
  • Tells the truth and can apologize when needed
  • Has a good sense of humor

Language strengths

  • Uses words to express needs, wants, and ideas
  • Participates in discussions at home, at school, and with friends
  • Can change tone of voice when telling a story or asking a question.
  • Tells stories that have a clear beginning, middle, and end
  • Uses lots of words and likes learning new words
  • Can answer “who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” “why,” and “how” questions in conversation (or about a story)
  • Understands jokes, puns, and sarcasm

Literacy strengths

  • Understands the structure of sounds; can do tasks like rhyme
  • Can sound out unfamiliar words
  • Easily recognizes sight words
  • Can remember details and retell stories after reading them
  • Can make predictions based on what’s happened so far in a story
  • Reads with expression, like the way an actor talks on TV shows
  • Makes connections between reading material and personal experiences

Math and logic strengths

  • Has strong number sense, like knowing which is larger and which is smaller
  • Sees and understands patterns in nature and in numbers
  • Remembers math facts (like 5 + 4 = 9)
  • Can do mental math (“in your head”)
  • Uses math concepts in the real world (like doubling a recipe)
  • Understands math terms used in word problems
  • Solves puzzles or word problems

Study skills strengths

  • Understands and sets goals; can plan ahead
  • Is a self-starter
  • Stays focused on tasks
  • Tries different approaches (flexible thinking)
  • Organizes thoughts and physical items like a backpack
  • Follows rules and routines well
  • Learns from mistakes and solves problems

Other strengths and talents

  • Is creative/artistic
  • Dances. acts, sings, or plays a musical instrument
  • Plays sports or games (including video games)
  • Practices yoga, mindfulness, or meditation
  • Takes care of animals and/or younger children
  • Entertains people by telling jokes or stories
  • Does community service projects

Make a Strengths ChainPDF

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Get tips on how to talk with kids about strengths and challenges. You can also read about how to identify signs of resilience. And download a list of activities to help kids develop a growth mindset.

Key takeaways

  • Identifying kids’ strengths is just as important as focusing on their challenges.

  • Some strengths may be easier to notice than others.

  • Developing a growth mindset can help kids improve executive functions and other kinds of strengths.

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    About the author

    About the author

    Amanda Morin is the director of thought leadership at Understood and author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education.” She worked as a classroom teacher and early intervention specialist for more than a decade.

    Reviewed by

    Reviewed by

    Donna Volpitta, EdD is the founder of Pathways to Empower. Her work draws on the latest research in neuroscience, psychology, and education.