August 10, 2016 Strong Cincinnati Contributor

VIA Strengths Mural

By VIA Institute on Character

When Michelle McQuaid was studying the Character Strengths for her Master’s Degree in Positive Psychology, she figured out a way for her young son to learn right along with her. She created a “Strengths Mural” for his bedroom, painting pictures for each of the 24 strengths on the wall. Each night before bed, they would choose a different strength to discuss. They would talk about what the strength meant to each of them. Then they would share stories of times they had used or seen someone else use the strengths and/or make up stories about a character with that strength. By creating a visual discussion starter, Michelle was able to teach her son about strengths – his own and those of others – and also improve her own understanding.

Special Key Ingredients:

  • Establishing personal relevance of CS to individuals: visual display depicting each strength, self observation, best self stories
  • Strengths spotting: understanding others in terms of their strengths
  • Finding new ways to use strengths: exploring new ways to use strengths

Domain: Home, but could be used in other settings – classroom, work

Target audience for application: Individuals – used here with child, could be used with adults, groups

Description of application:

  1. Create a design for each of the 24 Strengths.Draw/paint on wall, or large sheet of paper and post in highly visible place. Try to let as many people contribute to the design and creation of the mural as possible to encourage feelings of ownership and connectedness to the mural.
  2. Take time each day to discuss one or more strength in detail.Begin with a general definition of each strengths then dive into discussion. Possible questions to encourage discussion:
  • What do you think ­­­­­­­(strength) means?
  • Have you ever used (strength)?
  • When I was your age there was a time I saw/used (strength) … let me tell you that story…
  • I remember a time I saw you use (strength)  let me tell you that story…
  1. Follow-up:ongoing. The mural can be a continual source for strengths discussions. When times are good – the mural can depict which strengths are being celebrated. When times are tough, mural can be a gentle discussion starter to boost someone’s spirits, or to point out areas where particular strength may need to be built up.


Heightens strengths awareness by keep strengths in full view.

  • A visual reminder of strengths helps viewers remember the different strengths, can trigger memories of the strengths in action or the helpful discussions surrounding different ones.
  • A creative discussion starter for one-on-one, or groups at any time.
  • A non-verbal cue –  allows for different learning/processing/sensory needs.


  • To help children develop an awareness of strengths in themselves and others
  • To generate conversations about strengths
  • To serve as a reminder of strengths

Duration of application/program: ongoing


Michelle and her son were able to enjoy numerous strengths discussions. From confidence boosting sessions to troubling issues with kids at school, Michelle was able to use the strengths mural as a tool to describe the situation in a manner that her son understood and related to.  She observed a heightened awareness in her son of other children’s strengths and possible motives for their behaviors, based on strengths spotting.

Materials needed:  Wall paints or mural paper and paints, markers.

If you would have additional questions about this application you can contact Michelle at: or visit: 


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