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The Strength Switch : How the New Science of Strength-Based Parenting Helps Your Child and Teen to Flourish - Lea Waters

The Strength Switch

How the New Science of Strength-Based Parenting Helps Your Child and Teen to Flourish

Paperback Published: 29th May 2017
ISBN: 9781925324426
Number Of Pages: 352

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This game-changing book reveals the extraordinary results of focusing on our children’s strengths rather than always trying to correct their weaknesses. By showing us how to throw the ‘strength switch’, Dr Lea Waters demonstrates how we can help our children build resilience, optimism and achievement.

As a strength-based scientist for more than 20 years, Waters has seen how this approach enhances self-esteem and energy in both children and teenagers – and how parents find it an exciting and rewarding way to raise them. With many suggestions for specific techniques to interact with your children, Waters demonstrates how to discover their strengths and talents, use positive emotions as a resource, build strong brains, and even how to deal with problem behaviour and talk about difficult situations and emotions.

The Strength Switch will show parents that a small shift can yield enormous results.

About the Author

Dr Lea Waters is a psychology researcher at the University of Melbourne, where she has worked for over 20 years. She is the founding Director of the Centre for Positive Psychology, holds the Gerry Higgins Chair in Positive Psychology, and is a registered psychologist with the AHPRA and a member of the Australian Psychological Society. She is recognised as a world expert on positive parenting, positive education and positive organisations and has affiliate research positions with Cambridge University and the University of Michigan.

Dr Waters is the President-Elect of the International Positive Psychology Association and has been listed in the Marquis Who’s Who in the World since 2009. She was listed as one of Australia’s Top 100 Women of Influence by the Financial Review and Westpac Bank.

Dr Waters is on the Board of the South Australian Health and Medical Research Board and is the Ambassador for Australia’s Positive Education Schools Association. She featured in the ABC TV documentary Revolution School and is regularly featured in newspapers and on radio. Her TEDx talk focuses on how we can spread positive messages through social media.

Her Positive Detective school program is being used in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Finland, Ghana, Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand. Her Visible Wellbeing™ program is being run in schools across Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Tasmania, Queensland and Victoria in both the state and independent education systems.

Industry Reviews

"Practical tips for parents from the wise and wonderful Lea Waters! So many parents, including me, struggle to translate scientific research into real-world strategies. This terrific book not only helps us understand ourselves and our children better but also makes that understanding actionable!" - Angela Duckworth, PhD, New York Times bestselling author of Grit.

The tools we need to parent the way we want


I knew there were many ways I wanted to parent differently to how I was parented, but when I had kids I discovered I had no road map or role models to show me how. Lea Waters book is that road map. A wonderful, down to earth read that makes me feel normal as a parent who is also struggling to figure out what I'm doing. Having read her book and played with the ideas and activities she suggests in my own family I feel more confident in being able to raise resilient and happy kids. I can't recommend this book enough.



I was NOT disappointed!


Wow-Dr. Waters has managed to make a wide range of scientific evidence easy to read and enjoyable. Not to mention, the joy it is to read of how we can actually focus on strengths and what is going well, in order to build up our children and ourselves-rather than the usual behavioural modification or "diagnosis" style methods. I was really looking forward to reading this book and I can honestly say I have not been disappointed. I now have a list of friends I want to buy copies for, to encourage them in their relationships with their children and learn of ways to enhance what is the toughest (and of course most rewarding) job in the world! Thankyou so much Dr. Waters for the wisdom, creativity and warth that shines through your book.

Macedon Ranges


Life enhancing, particularly for blended families.


As a (step)mum, thanks for providing further evidence that you don't have to give birth to be a good parent. I think your book will soothe & strengthen many families particularly: blended families, aunts and uncles, grandparents and caregivers. Thank you so much Lea for your life enhancing Strengths Based Parenting Book. Bravo !

Melbourne, VIC


Totally transformed my relationship with my son.


This book is gold. Parenting at the best of times can be a difficult land to navigate, we so much want the best for our kids - but how do we make that happen? I flicked my 'strength switch' the other night and completely avoided what would usually have become a complete meltdown...ended up with hugs, snuggles, giggles and a happy heart instead. Thank you Prof. Waters for sharing the science, your wisdom and stories with us fellow parents...I'm hoping a sequel is on its way!




5.0 4


Sometimes we find our callings; other times our callings find us. I certainly didn’t expect to be handed mine at a cocktail party. It was 2011 and I was in Philadelphia for the World Congress of Positive Psychology, sipping wine and mingling with a group of fellow positive psychology scientists from as far away as South Africa, Korea, and (in my case) Australia, at the gracious home of Martin Seligman, PhD, and his wife, Mandy.

Martin Seligman is widely known as a leading authority on positive psychology, a branch of psychology that scientifically studies how positive emotions, strengths, and virtues help us thrive. Since its inception in 1998, positive psychology has grown rapidly, with tens of millions of dollars invested in research and thousands of members from more than seventy countries joining the International Positive Psychology Association. Through Marty’s many appointments and activities, including as director of the Penn Positive Psychology Center, and his best- selling books such as Learned Optimism, Authentic Happiness, and Flourish, he is passionate about making positive psychology a global movement. So this evening’s informal gathering, which brought together professionals from around the world to connect and crossfertilise ideas, felt very “Marty” to me.

I had met Marty when he came to Australia to establish a positive psychology approach at a school near the University of Melbourne, where I work. I had just transferred to the Melbourne Graduate School of Education from the School of Economics and Business, where as an organisational psychologist I’d been studying and consulting for organisations on integrating positive psychology into the workplace, particularly on how focusing on strengths as opposed to weaknesses could improve performance. Basically, I’d swapped offices for classrooms, senior execs for teachers, and workers for school kids. I was also leading the establishment of our Centre for Positive Psychology, a dedicated facility that was a first for Australia, for the university, and for me.

Marty and I were talking about how effective school systems could be for introducing positive psychology to children so kids could do better in school, feel better about themselves, and become adults who will shape a society empowered by positive psychology.

But as a psychologist and parent of two children, I knew that, in the infinite ways parents connect with children every day, families are by far the most powerful positive psychology delivery system of all.

The question was how to reach them.

Our conversation went something like this:

Me: It’s great that we’re doing this in schools. But what happens when kids go home? I’m using a strength- based approach with my kids, and I’ve seen the benefits. Someone should do the research that would inform parents about this.

Marty: Why don’t you do it?

Me: But I’m an organisational psychologist, not a parenting expert.

Marty: You’re raising your children this way, you’re a qualified psychologist, and you’re working with kids in schools. So why not you?

I think that’s when I suddenly noticed that my wineglass needed a refill!

Despite initially avoiding Marty’s question, it followed me all the way home on the thirty- hour flight to Melbourne: Why not me? Maybe I could do it. Maybe I should do it. If I do it, I’ll be helping a lot of parents and kids. By the time the plane landed, I knew that bringing strength principles into families’ lives was something I had to do.

ISBN: 9781925324426
ISBN-10: 1925324427
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 352
Published: 29th May 2017
Publisher: Random House Australia
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 23.4 x 15.5  x 2.8
Weight (kg): 0.46
Edition Number: 1