The genius quality of inventiveness is one many of us think of when listing the great geniuses of all time. For instance, Benjamin Franklin is credited with inventing numerous things. You and your children might enjoy researching this. The variety of his inventions is remarkable! In this week’s video, Dr. Kathy suggests something simple you can do to help your children appreciate this genius quality. Listen and follow through. Okay? Great!

Prevent Self-Deception in Kids

The words we speak and the words we don’t speak change lives...

mother teen son

The words we speak and the words we don’t speak change lives. Absolutely! I’ve taught this for a long time.

Lately, I’ve been talking with parents and teachers more about listening closely to the words their children speak. They change lives, too. This might be especially true of the words they speak to themselves.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know I believe children have 8 smarts and should be told they’re smart when there’s evidence to support it. This is one way we can speak the truth to them and encourage them to refer to themselves accurately, too.

Identity: Who Am I?

Children rarely if ever come up to parents or others and ask, “Who am I?” but they do need answers to the question.


Kids have many needs. Parents often tell me they feel overwhelmed and I understand. It must be scary at times. Maybe this is a reason parents respond so well to the Model of five core needs that I’ve been teaching for over 25 years. The needs explain much about children’s behavior. Virtually every cause of misbehavior and unhealthy attitudes and beliefs can be assigned to one or more of the needs. So, it’s a very efficient problem-solving model.

Last Monday, I blogged about the first need, security. Today, let’s look at the second need, identity, in some detail.

Identity: Who am I?

As you can see from the pyramid, identity is dependent upon security. If children don’t have a healthy security, their identity may be incomplete or unhealthy. It may not be settled. If children’s behavior (identity) is especially inconsistent, it usually means their security isn’t broad or healthy.


Children rarely if ever come up to parents or others and ask, “Who am I?” but they do need answers to the question. They need to know who they are. They learn their identity by listening to what people say to them and what they hear people say about them. This includes what they overhear us say when we’re talking with friends in the church lobby or when we’re on the phone. (It can be frustrating! They don’t listen when you want them to and they do listen when you don’t intend them to!)

I imagine you want your kids to be wise. Dr. Armstrong found evidence in his work that this genius quality depends upon wonder. You may want to view last week’s video on that quality if you haven’t seen it. In this video, Dr. Kathy defines wisdom and shares a very practical and important thing that’s quick and easy to do daily to help children develop this quality. Curious? Good – that’s a genius quality!

God’s Generosity Empowers A Child’s Capacity To Learn

God is very generous! He creates each person with the capacity to develop 8 different smarts.

young female student

God is very generous! He creates each person with the capacity to develop 8 different smarts. Eight! He could have created us without a brain and without the ability to use it independently. But He didn’t! I’m so grateful. I hope you are.

As a new school year begins, remember to encourage your children to use all 8 smarts. If you send them off to school, you can use the smarts at home even if your children’s teachers use only or mostly one or two during the day. At home, they can practice and study with all 8. This will really help them. If you homeschool your children, you can do so much. And, remember, all of this applies to Sunday school settings and learning about Spiritual truths, too.

Security: Who can I trust?

Do the best you can this year to be worthy of your children’s trust. Be responsible, honest, helpful, and available.

parent heart hands baby feet

Would you like to know what to do this school year to help your children in more ways than you can imagine? Yes? Great. Keep reading.

We have all been created by God with five core needs that must be met. This is true for children and adults. I’ve been blogging about one or another aspect of these needs for years. My book, Finding Authentic Hope and Wholeness, explains them in detail.

It’s been a long time since I shared some basics so here goes. I’ll cover the first core need today and the rest in the weeks to follow.

Security: Who can I trust?

Your children must have trustworthy people they can depend upon. Security in their first need and you don’t want them to put it in their popularity, grades, or beauty. Those things will come and go and fade away.

Do the best you can this year to be worthy of your children’s trust. Be responsible, honest, helpful, and available. Apologize when you make mistakes. You want them coming to you when they need advice and they won’t if you’re inconsistent, not helpful, critical, prideful, and the like.

Also, point out other people they know who they can depend upon. Model how you rely on others. How do you discern who is on your side? What qualities do you prioritize and how do you recognize them in someone? How do you decide whether to give someone a second chance if you find out he or she has gossiped about you?

If, like me, you’re a Christ follower, make sure they know how your security is rooted in God and His character. Let them see you search for relevant truths in the Scripture. Pray and wait for God’s answer and make sure your kids know you do this. When they come to you with concerns, pray for them right then and there.

Children, like us, can appropriately place some of their security in themselves. Are they maturing? Tell them. Have you noticed they’re honoring their word? If they say they’re starting their homework and you notice they do, affirm them. If they say they’ll help you by watching their younger brother and they do, affirm them. Rather than saying, “Good,” tell them, “You’re becoming more and more trustworthy. I’m glad I can trust you.”

When children trust in God it’s life-changing. When they trust in people who know more than they do and have proven to be worthy of their trust, it can be life-saving. When they learn to trust in themselves, in addition to these, not instead of these, it increases their confidence. When they find themselves alone, they won’t be as hesitant and unsure of themselves as peers without security. This is healthy.

Rock-solid security makes it more likely children will have a complete and positive identity, belonging based on healthy attributes, purpose they can realistically fulfill, and the competence to do it all.

Prioritize security – your children will appreciate it and you.

You may want to subscribe to the blog (easy sign-up form in the sidebar) to make sure you don’t miss the next blogs where I’ll detail the other four needs. As always, thanks for your interest.


As we continue our series of videos about the 12 important genius qualities, Dr. Kathy addresses the quality of wonder. She’ll share a way it’s commonly shut down in our children and reasons we must keep it alive. Because it has a double purpose, as she’ll explain, it’s extremely important. If you want your children to do well in school this year and enjoy it more, increase their sense of wonder.

Talk To Your Child About Their “Smarts” And Effort

Character plus the smarts make a powerful combination

mom daughters

A new school year is upon us. Some children have returned and others will soon be wearing their thinking caps again. (Actually, I hope these were worn in the summer, too!)

Allow me to share two recommendations to follow now and consistently throughout the year. When you observe your children working on their academics, review their work, and talk about how they’re doing, remember two things:

Talk about which smarts you know your child used when thinking about and completing the work. Don’t let your son think he was lucky and that’s why he did well. Don’t let your daughter think she did well because the assignment was easy.

When they do well, don’t just say, “Good job.” Or, “I knew you could do it.” Affirm their intelligences.

  • “You did well because you are smart and chose to use your brain. That’s why this was easy.”
  • “You’re very logic smart. That’s why you enjoyed completing this science report and did so well.”

When they don’t do well, don’t just communicate your disappointment. Don’t say, “This work is unacceptable.” And, don’t let them think they didn’t do well because the assignment was hard. Instead ask about their smarts. Talk about their smarts.

  • “Which smart didn’t you use that could have helped you more successfully complete your work? Picture or people?”
  • “When working on this assignment, did you remember to decide which smarts to use? Do you want me to remind you what they are and how each part of your brain thinks? Will that help you use your brain better? You are smart!”

Talk about their effort or lack of effort. Perseverance. Diligence. Self-control. Teachability. Humility. Patience. Responsibility. Talk about their character. This can be more important than talking about their smarts. This is how I explain it in my new book, 8 Great Smarts:

  • You don’t want your son relying only on how he is smart when approaching new tasks. He could be unsure of himself that day, overwhelmed, or confused. The assignment could be a bit beyond his natural abilities. It’s easy for children to feel dumb when they believe their smarts have failed them. Your son needs to understand that his successes and challenges are always due to how he is smart plus how he applies himself. Therefore, it’s important to affirm the character qualities and learning processes children use that contribute to their successes.

Always. Always talk about both. From the first day of school to the last our kids benefit when they know we believe success is a matter of the heart and the mind. Character plus the smarts make a powerful combination.

Kids Pay Attention To Mom’s Social Media Posts … About Them

As kids head back to school, be mindful of your status updates on social media

male teen student computer

Scrolling Facebook this time of year gives me cause for concern.

So many moms post about being sad their children are growing up. Surrounded by other thoughts, they write: “I can’t believe I have a                            grader!” Fill in the blank with everything from “first” to “twelfth.”

I understand moms may enjoy certain stages and ages better than others. I understand moms might miss hugs, kisses, and funny things little children say. I remember the first time I arrived at my brother’s home many years ago and none of their children ran up to greet me. It was different. I did miss it. But, kids grow up. That’s what they’re supposed to do. We must let them.

What’s even worse are the occasional celebration posts about children going back to school. Maybe you’ve seen the “dancing monkey” post I have. I can’t watch it. I feel sick.

I understand the summer can be tough. If you work outside of your home, the summer has potential scheduling challenges and more. If you stay at home with children, it can be exhausting. Coming up with new ideas to keep them engaged might really be hard for you. Kids pick on siblings and test your patience. I get it.

Here’s the thing. Children pick up on our attitudes and moods. They know our beliefs from our behaviors. Absolutely! They can tell if our words are sincere. If we’re worried. If we’re sad. If we’re relieved. If we believe in them. If we’re tired of them.

Others see our posts. Children read them. Maybe not your children, but lots of teens are on Facebook and what message are they picking up from what we’re writing? Might they now wonder if their moms feel the same way? Are your children’s grandparents on Facebook? Maybe you think we’re not responsible for what they or our children think. Maybe not, but we are responsible for what we post.

Do you really believe what you’re posting? Is more sensitivity in order? Is there a different way to say what you want to say? Do others need to know what you’re thinking? What’s your motive?

I hope those questions come across okay. Maybe I’m reading too much into some posts. Many of you reading this are doing a beautiful job of using social media. Just ignore this then. If my thoughts have caused you to pause and consider this differently, great!

What can you post this week and next that will celebrate your children and encourage every teacher who happens to read your posts?

“I’ve loved my times with my kids this summer and am grateful for all the games we played, talks we had, and cakes we baked. Now they head back to school and I pray they learn a lot and mature in many ways. I’ll miss them during the day, but I’ll nap the first few days!”

“This summer has had its challenges, but I’m still glad for the rhythm of life that gives our family these extended times together. I love my kids even though they exhaust me sometimes. I’m glad the school year is starting, not because I want less time with them, but because they love school and learning. I’m so grateful for their teachers!”

“My kids are high energy! As they return to school, I’m praying their teachers will love them and direct them well. I saw glimpses this summer of how challenging they can be at times. Yet, I’m convinced God gave them their energy and creativity on purpose. As they mature, these just may be the qualities they use to improve the world. I can’t wait to see that!”

I hope you love being a mom and that your kids know you do.

Creativity is another of the genius qualities. Do you value it and want your children to exhibit the quality? What’s the proof? Dr. Kathy shares that it’s relevant across the curriculum and uses her brother and one of her former second graders as examples. She also mentions three character qualities that help children use each genius quality in healthy ways. Can you predict what they are?