Your Child's Strengths: Discover Them, Develop Them, Use Them

Your Child's Strengths: Discover Them, Develop Them, Use Them

by Jenifer Fox M.Ed.

With this groundbreaking work, renowned educator Jenifer Fox argues against the flawed and maddening paradigm that "fixing"kids' weaknesses is the way to achieve success. Rather, Fox promotes focusing on kids' natural inclinations in three interdependent areas: Activity Strengths, Relationship Strengths, and Learning Strengths. Pairing inspiring firsthand


With this groundbreaking work, renowned educator Jenifer Fox argues against the flawed and maddening paradigm that "fixing"kids' weaknesses is the way to achieve success. Rather, Fox promotes focusing on kids' natural inclinations in three interdependent areas: Activity Strengths, Relationship Strengths, and Learning Strengths. Pairing inspiring firsthand accounts of success with practical workbook tools, alongside an outline of the award-winning strengths-based Affinities curriculum Fox has implemented in her own school, Your Child's Strengths is a user-friendly and indispensable guide for parents, teachers, and administrators alike.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Brilliant, innovative, enormously practical . . . this book could change the world."
Edward Hallowell, M.D., author of Driven to Distraction

"Jenifer Fox has extraordinary insight into the minds of young people and an unshakable belief in their potential. . . . This is one program that the schools must have."
Marcus Buckingham, from the Foreword

Prominent educator Jenifer Fox counsels parents to think positively. She deplores schools where students are treated as defective learning engines waiting to be fixed. In this book, she describes a strengths-based teaching philosophy that bolsters self-esteem, creativity, and adaptability. She identifies three essential dimensions of this mastery: activity strengths, relationship strengths, and learning strengths.
Michael Riera
Your Child's Strengths puts in plain view what has been in front of us all along – that education and character development always do best to first identify and deepen strengths, rather than to first (and too often exclusively) focus on deficit and weaknesses. Fox's approach is more interesting, more effective, and ultimately more humane. (Michael Riera, author of Staying Connected to Your Teenager: How to Keep Them Talking to You, and How To Hear What They're Really Saying)
Christopher Peterson
Jenifer Fox has vision, passion, intelligence, and experience. All show in Your Child's Strengths, which contains a wealth of practical ideas for parents and educators who want to encourage among children the strengths that make possible the good life. (Christopher Peterson, Professor of Psychology, University of Michigan and author of A Primer in Positive Psychology)
Patrick F. Bassett
Your Child's Strengths is a tonic for the regret one feels for all the children burdened by schools and a world preoccupied by weaknesses rather than strengths. Countless compelling stories illustrate vividly the theme, that focusing on children's strengths is the roadmap for all parents and teachers to give what we want inherently wish to provide: a means for children to find their own path. The Strengths Inventory and Affinities Program curriculum in the Appendix offer a remarkably practical means to start down the path and are worth a read by themselves, but then you would miss the journey of revelation the book evokes. (Patrick F. Bassett, President, National Association of Independent Schools)
Edward Hallowell
This is a brilliant, innovative, enormously practical, and hugely important work. Where positive psychology and strength-based philosophies usually stumble, this book soars, namely, in practical application. If teachers and parents would all read this and implement its suggestions, our broken educational system would be fixed in no time. Truly, this book could change the world. (Edward Hallowell, M.D. author of Driven to Distraction: Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder from Childhood to Adulthood and Delivered from Distraction: Getting the Most out of Life with Attention Deficit Disorder)
Dan Kindlon
Your Child's Strengths contains clear, interesting, step-by-step techniques for identifying and utilizing children's cognitive and emotional strengths - an excellent starting point for any parent, teacher, or student who wants to take the more effective step of focusing on assets rather than liabilities. The wisdom contained in this remarkable volume will be a godsend, not only for those who are just beginning to try to understand a child's learning style but also for those already battered by a misguided an educational system. (Dan Kindlon, Ph.D., co-author of Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys )
Jonathan Mooney
When I was labeled ‘learning disabled,' the educational system tried everything to fix me, from giving me purple-colored reading glasses to putting me through hundreds of hours of remediation. Through all these efforts to fix what was supposedly wrong with me, my strengths, gifts, and talents were not simply neglected or ignored, but negated. Jenifer Fox has taken a groundbreaking and important stand against the standardized deficit and remediation education that dominates the lives of millions of students. Philosophical yet extremely practical, innovative yet grounded in solid research on effective pedagogy, Your Child's Strengths is a must read for any student, parent and educator. (Jonathan Mooney author of The Short Bus: A Journey Beyond Normal and Learning Outside the Lines)
Children's Literature - Paula McMillen
There is never any question that this author is an advocate for kids, teens, and, when it comes right down to it, for adults. She believes schools, and society in general, focus too much on identifying and trying to "fix" deficits rather than helping children, teens, and adults identify and optimize their strengths. The book is divided into three parts: "The Weakness Habit," "A Strengths Awakening," and "Create Your Future, Play to Your Strengths Workbook." Author Fox, a school principal, argues the pressing need today and in the future for people who can adapt and innovate, be creative, and flexible; she asserts that people who have a clear idea of their strengths—in activities, in relationships, and in learning—are the ones who can fill the bill. Her intention is to offer guidance for parents and teachers in helping children discover their strengths so they can become fulfilled and vital adults. Short case narratives are liberally sprinkled through the text, illustrating Fox's strengths-focused approach when working with "problem" students over the years. She provides very detailed workbook activities and inventories in the final third and appendices of the book to help parents, teachers, and children/teens develop their observation and reflection skills so they can begin to identify their strengths. Focusing on strengths is a habit of mind that must be cultivated consistently over a period of time, and the author offers realistic options for working with kids at different ages based on their cognitive development levels. Although this is clearly a book targeted for general readership, it is nevertheless frustrating that sources of claims and statistics are not consistentlyidentified. In the positive column, the book offers a good index and an extensive list of resources in addition to all the other practical guidance already discussed. Anyone who has grown weary of teaching to the test and trying to fit all children into an inflexible educational machine will surely resonate with this approach. Reviewer: Paula McMillen, Ph.D.

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range:
18 Years


Meet the Author

Jenifer Fox, M.Ed., has worked in day and boarding schools, single-sex and coed schools, as a teacher and administrator for twenty-five years. She is currently head of the Purnell School in Pottersville, New Jersey. She holds a B.S. in communications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and M.A. in English from Middlebury College, and a M.Ed. in school administration from Harvard University. She lives in Pottersville, New Jersey.

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