How to Help Your Kid Identify Their Skills

Since I was little, I’ve always wanted to be a writer. In school, there’s no shortage of assignments that require writing. You get an assignment, write a paper or a report, and get feedback on your grammar and overall organization based on the expectations. But it wasn’t until the end of my sophomore year in high school that I had someone else noticed my natural skill. My English teacher, Mr. Roelen, commented on a paper I wrote that said, “You’re a gifted writer! Keep it up.” That’s it. A small comment from someone I respected ignited a fire in me. 

Sometimes, all a young person needs is a little affirmation and validation to move from a hunch to a recognized talent. 

I always wanted to be a writer but never had an ambition for public speaking. Growing up with severe speech delays kept me quiet, reserved, and shy—especially in a public setting. It wasn’t until one day, when I was asked to give a short announcement in a club meeting, that an older mentor-type approached me and said something similar that I heard from my English teacher. He said, “You’re good at this. You need to start speaking!”

Sometimes, we have a sense of our own innate skills, but we still need validation from others. 

Other times, we can’t see it in ourselves—someone else must point it out. 

As the primary guides to helping our kids discover their identity and purpose, we don’t just wait for them to figure things out independently. We guide and prompt them intentionally at the right time to reflection exercises and conversations that create the conditions for them to gain the insights they need to thrive. 

Here’s an exercise we’ve developed and tested over the years with( literally thousands) of young adults as well as transitioning veterans that have proven to be effective and efficient:

Step One

Identify 5-7 stories illustrating moments when you felt accomplished, proud, or effective. 

Step Two

For each story, describe in as much detail as possible what exactly happened and what you did to impact the outcome. Pay particular attention to the specific things you did that you might not notice. Often, when someone is naturally skilled at something, they underestimate how unique it is—they assume wrongly that everyone can do what they do since it’s so easy for them. 

The critical piece of this exercise is to take the first pass in recalling, retelling, and providing the details for each event. You need to own your own skills and strengths. Other people can help you notice them and provide affirmation, but fundamentally, everyone needs to take ownership of their own wiring at the deepest level. 

Step Three

Summarize what you think are the skills that you embody based on the stories you remembered. 

Step Four

Share your summarized skills with someone you trust, and for each skill you share, tell the story as a for instance. 

Step Five

Invite feedback from the other person. What language or labels would they use to describe your strengths after listening to your summary and stories? Take notes on what they say. 

Step Six

Use ChatGPT or a thesaurus to develop a broader vocabulary to describe your skills. (Or, you can do a deeper dive into the database of skills brought to you by EnhanCV, plus how to integrate them into your resume). On one hand, it’s essential that you take ownership of your skills. However, throughout life, you’ll need to communicate your skills to other people, whether when working collaboratively on a team or in an interview. It will be important for you to use language that your colleagues or audience find to be most descriptive and relevant. 

Through this process, you can begin to clearly sense your unique wiring, own your innate skills and talents, and start using them as guideposts for your decisions. 

Don’t be surprised if you pick up a few more skills along the way. Doing well in school will lead you to accumulate a set of skills that can be transferable in countless ways in the future, even if you don’t value them or prioritize them. 

You might have some other skills, too, that might not seem totally relevant or valuable right now. Maybe it’s skills you’ve gained through gaming, developing your own YouTube channel, or the way you entertain your friends with funny stories. Our encouragement: take note of those, too. They belong as a part of your story, even if unclear.


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Do you know?

For years we’ve been studying what a young person needs in order to transition into a healthy, thriving adulthood.  

They're uncommon sense ideas, really.

Download this checklist and use it with your students (or kids).

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