Types of Strengths in Kids

By Amanda Morin
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Children have many different kinds of strengths. Sometimes these strengths are obvious, like when a kid 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 your child thrive. This is especially true for kids who are struggling in school. Use this list to help identify your child’s strengths.

Character Strengths

  • Honest and trustworthy

  • Caring and kind

  • Helpful

  • Empathetic

  • Loyal

  • Hardworking

  • Resilient

  • Independent

  • Cooperative

  • Eager

  • Curious

Social Strengths

  • Shares, takes turns, and can compromise

  • Tries to be a good conversation partner and not interrupt too much

  • Puts effort into making friends and keeping them

  • Is a good listener

  • Likes to help and is sensitive to the needs of others

  • Accepts differences in others

  • Asks for help when needed

  • Has ways of coping when frustrated (like not hitting)

  • Knows when it’s OK to follow the crowd and when to resist peer pressure

  • Accepts personal responsibility for actions (good and bad)

  • Can be redirected away from a negative situation to a positive one

  • Doesn’t argue when told by adults what to do

  • Tells the truth and can apologize when needed

  • Has a good sense of humor

Language Strengths

  • Uses words to express needs, wants, and ideas

  • Likes talking to people

  • 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 age-appropriate grammar

  • Uses lots of words and likes learning new words

  • Likes learning the words in songs

  • Likes listening to stories

  • Can answer “who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” “why,” and “how” questions in conversation (or about a story)

  • Understands jokes, puns, and sarcasm

Literacy Strengths

  • Can rhyme and do other tasks that involve understanding the sound structure of words

  • Enjoys reading or being read to

  • Seeks out fun things to read like magazines and comic books

  • Can sound out unfamiliar words

  • Can easily recognize sight words

  • Understands and uses written information (like following written directions)

  • Can remember details and retell stories after reading them

  • Can make predictions based on what’s happened so far in a story

  • Can pause when reading and return to that sentence after being interrupted

  • Reads with expression, like the way an actor talks on TV shows

  • Can figure out what new words mean by looking at the context or asking questions

  • Makes connections between reading material and personal experiences

Math and Logic Strengths

  • Has strong number sense, like being able to quickly compare groups of items and know 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 cutting a recipe in half)

  • Understands math terms used in word problems

  • Solves puzzles or word problems

  • Likes playing games that involve strategy, like chess

  • Likes taking things apart and figuring out how they work

Study Skills Strengths

  • Understands and sets goals

  • Can plan ahead

  • Is a self-starter

  • Can ignore distractions and stay focused on tasks

  • Can think about something in more than one way (flexible thinking)

  • Keeps information in mind long enough to use it in some way (working memory)

  • Organizes thoughts and physical items like a backpack

  • Follows rules and routines well

  • Can keep track of time and obligations

  • Can recognize and try to control “big feelings”

  • Can pause to think through decisions or choices

  • Can learn from mistakes and solve problems

  • Self-advocates/asks for help

  • Can work or play independently

  • Works well/gets along well one-on-one

  • Works well/gets along well in groups

  • Has a growth mindset and believes skills can improve with effort

Other Strengths and Talents

  • Is creative

  • Likes drawing and doodling

  • Can dance, act, sing, or play a musical instrument

  • Can swim or play sports

  • Practices yoga, mindfulness, or meditation

  • Is gentle with animals and/or younger children

  • Enjoys entertaining people by telling jokes or stories

  • Likes doing community service projects

  • Likes problem-solving in video games

Get tips on how to talk to your child about strengths and challenges. You may also want to try a hands-on activity to identify your child’s strengths—one you and your child can work on together. If your child has an IEP, you might want to do this before your next IEP meeting.

While your child’s strengths are top of mind, learn about the best ways to praise your child’s efforts and achievements. You can also download activities to help your child develop a growth mindset.

Key Takeaways

About the Author

About the Author

Amanda Morin 

worked as a classroom teacher and as an early intervention specialist for 10 years. She is the author of The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education. Two of her children have learning differences.

Reviewed by

Reviewed by

Donna Volpitta, EdD 

is coauthor ofThe Resilience Formula: A Guide to Proactive, Not Reactive, Parenting.

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