8 Great Smarts Christmas Shopping

8 Great Smarts Christmas Shopping

8 Great Smarts Christmas Shopping


Christmas and children – they just go together, don’t they? Perhaps you’re looking forward to spending time with children and teens later this month. Maybe you’re still shopping for their gifts. You’re not alone. Stores are still full. Website traffic is high.

Games and toys are some of the best ways to awaken and even strengthen their eight great smarts. Here’s a short list of suggestions taken from the end of each chapter of 8 Great Smarts.

Shop strategically. If you don’t know how the children are smart just pick one or two that sound interesting. If you do know, think about whether they’d enjoy a game for a smart they’re already developing or whether to buy one to better awaken one they haven’t used as much. Or, buy both!

Word Smart – Let’s Play!

Play Scattergories: If you can quickly come up with a list of, say, things at the park, in a drawer, and that you wear that start with the letter t that no one else thinks of, you can win this game.

Play Apples to Apples: One player draws a card. Each player selects a word card from their hand that they think is most relevant to the word on that card. If the judge picks your card, you win that round. Unlikely connections among words make for lots of laughter!

Logic Smart – Let’s Play!

Play Blokus: Players take turns placing pieces of their chosen color on the board. It’s tricky because each new piece must touch at least one other piece of the same color, but only at the corners. You win if you place more pieces than anyone else.

Play Clue: Crack the murder that took place in the mansion by asking the right questions to win this classic game. Junior version available.

Picture Smart – Let’s Play!

Play Telestrations: Picture the “Telephone Game” using drawings instead of whispering something into your neighbor’s ear. Lots of laughter.

Play Pictionary: Make quick sketches that others will hopefully guess correctly. Junior version available

Music Smart – Let’s Play!

Play Cranium: Answer trivia questions, create art, hum, act out clues, and use your vocabulary skills to win. Relevant to many smarts.

Play Encore: Draw a card with a word on it and sing at least six words of a song with that word in it. Judges memory, not musical ability.

Body Smart – Let’s Play!

Play tag (or any outdoor game).

Play Twister: Give the spinner a whirl and follow the directions. Just try to keep from falling over!

Nature Smart – Let’s Play!

Play Qwirkle: Match colors and shapes and use wise maneuvers and a strategy to win.

Play Rock On Geology Game: Rock and mineral collection includes fifteen specimens and fifty-plus polished rocks and minerals; five levels of play.

People Smart – Let’s Play!

Play Headbanz: Everyone but you knows what role you’ve been assigned. Ask questions to try to figure it out before you run out of time. You could be a mouse, dirty sock, or cash register.

Play Guesstures: You only have a few seconds to use classic charades techniques to get your team to guess the word on your assigned card.

Self Smart – Let’s Play!

Do quiet things together that your child chooses, such as completing a puzzle, coloring, building with Legos, playing with dolls, or playing a car game like “Who Am I?”

Shop, shop, shop! Play, play, play!

Talking About Halloween

Talking About Halloween


Talking About Halloween


Tomorrow is Halloween. It’s tempting to post about it.

Logic-smart people would expect me to. It’s the logical thing to do. Maybe they’d enjoy hearing the different perspectives on why some Christians don’t have their children participate in the holiday.

Word-smart people might like me to research the history of the word “Halloween.” And, we could read about different candy – how was each invented and named?

People-smart people would enjoy learning how people choose their costumes while getting friends’ reactions while shopping.

Nature-smart people might enjoy stories about how weather affects costume choices and how long children are allowed to be outside going from house to house in inclement weather.

Self-smart people might prefer thought-provoking quotes or poems to reflect upon.

Picture-smart people would enjoy details about unusual costumes and decorated haunted houses.

Music-smart people might enjoy knowing if there are any songs associated with Halloween.

Body-smart people would enjoy thinking about acting out different roles their costumes would require them to play – the happy clown, the old man, the rock star, etc.

Should All 8 Smarts Always be Included?

So, how could I possibly write one blog post about Halloween to please everyone? I probably can’t. Or, maybe I just did (if you’re easy to please).

That’s why I recommend that when teaching one short lesson, we don’t necessarily try to include all eight smarts. We’d have a headache and so would our children. The content might actually not be taught well. The same thing is true in our writing. We can and should make sure we don’t always teach or write to the same smart. But, including them all isn’t always a good idea.

When we teach a topic over time, we can and should include all eight smarts. And, if our lesson or written work is long enough, we can work to include as many smarts as seems appropriate. Our learners will benefit with greater motivation, learning, and ability to apply the ideas.

If you participate in Halloween activities, watch to see how the different smarts show up and influence your thinking and reactions.

Using All Of Your 8 Smarts

Using All Of Your 8 Smarts

Using All Of Your 8 Smarts


Many parents and teachers ask me how to determine which smarts are the strongest for their children. I understand why they want to know.

As valuable as that may be, I was recently reminded again that talking with children about choosing to engage all their smarts at the same time may have more value. Using all 8 adds joy to every experience.

Last Wednesday I drove through the Fossil Rim Safari in Glen Rose, TX, with my friend, Dede. We used all 8 smarts.

How Did We Use Our 8 Smarts?

First of all, the way that Dede and I used our word smart might be obvious. We visited and talked and shared stories as we drove to and from the park and while we were in the park. But, it’s thinking with and learning with the smarts that are keys. We did that as Dede read about the animals in a booklet. Then, when she read that the Arabian Oryx “can switch from ruminating to eating” we looked up the word “ruminating” at Dictionary.com. I knew it meant to think deeply over and over again when applied to people. We discovered the meaning when applied to an animal is “chewing the cud.”

Because when using logic smart you think with questions, this overlapped with our use of word smart. Also, we asked a lot of questions of each other as we discussed our lives, our friendship, and the animals. For instance, we asked why God created animals that were so strange looking, whether animals with similar patterns in their fur were definitely related, and what was in the food we were allowed to feed them.

Even though I don’t consider myself terribly picture smart, I, of course, used my eyes all day and thought in pictures. I compared the zebras and the giraffes to those I have seen on safari in Africa. I compared the landscape to what it looked like the last time I was on this particular safari. And, of course, just seeing the beauty of God‘s creation made it a very refreshing day.

Using All Of Your 8 Smarts

How Did We Your Music Smarts?

In addition, can you think of a way that we might’ve used our music smart skills while on a safari? I don’t remember that either of us hummed or sang. However one of the animals that appears to be a part of the elk family definitely trumpeted a warning of sorts. We think he was communicating to other males to stay out of his territory. We heard it because we were thinking with our ears and realized that it was a type of music. We heard it again later when we were having lunch at the Outlook Café and were quite far away. This might be one of my favorite memories as I reflect on it.

Self smart because that’s the smart that requires us to reflect and think deeply inside of ourselves. It’s important to realize that I’m drawing the conclusion that it’s a favorite memory many hours after actually hearing the sound. While at the park, Dede and I did use our self smart as we thought internally about our experiences and for whatever reason chose not to verbalize them. It’s not necessary when being self smart.

What About The Last 3 Smarts?

Believe me, though; we were more people smart than we were self smart. When being people smart, we think with other people. Accordingly, I said something and Dede responded. Then she said something, and I responded. It’s through the conversation that clarity and new insights arose. Dede and I did that all day long.

What about body smart? When using this intelligence, you think by moving and by doing. Although we were stuck in my car, so we were limited, we did use our hands to express our joy often. And, our faces lit up, too. Feeding the animals out of our hands and petting a few of them increased the depth of our memories and joy.

Using All Of Your 8 Smarts

That leaves nature smart. We thought with patterns all day long, and we enjoyed being in and surrounded by nature. We especially pointed out the patterns on animals’ fur, the shape and design of the different horns, and the shape of unique trees. I’m not terribly nature smart, but it didn’t matter. I used all 8 smarts and had a great day!

Encourage The Use Of All 8 Smarts

Let me return to my opening statement about parents’ desire to determine which smarts might be their children’s strengths. That certainly is a worthy endeavor. You can use experiences like I had to figure it out. Listen and look.

When you’re having fun doing something or doing nothing in particular, which smarts do you see your children use? What do they talk about and when they do ask questions, what do they ask about? Are they depending on their eyes to think with? Are they moving and acting things out? Do they need to talk with you about their insights or do you see them pondering things privately? If you want to make note of their current strengths, you should be able to.

Just remember that because children’s intelligences are being developed and are growing, they will be heavily influenced by purpose and passion. What you observe your children do often and well today may be very different from a month ago. That’s why keeping your eyes and ears open and never assuming you know for sure how children are especially smart is smart parenting. This is especially true when your children are young.

Who Inspires You?

Who Inspires You?


Who Inspires You?


Who has inspired you lately? Think about it for minute.

I was just inspired by Sandi, a friend I’m getting to know better. She played the piano in church on Sunday and yet only took three years of piano lessons when she was in junior high. She told me she considers yourself mostly self-taught. She’s probably very music smart.

I don’t know a lot of people who start from a somewhat meager beginning and work on something hard enough and long enough alone that blessing others with the skill becomes possible. Sandi did a great job on the prelude, offertory, and postlude and accompanying us as we sang hymns. I never would have guessed she only took lessons for three years.

Sandi’s daughter was a choir teacher. Sandi also worked to develop her skill so she could accompany the choir for her daughter. That takes real skill. She loved serving and helping her daughter.

I am inspired because too many people don’t serve because they assume they don’t have enough ability. My friend, Sandi, stretches herself. She wants to serve. Therefore, she works to develop talent. She inspires me.

Some parents tell me they’re afraid to give their children piano lessons, sign them up for drama, or enroll them on a sport’s team. They’re afraid their kids will want to do it forever and it will drain the family’s finances and be so time-consuming that there’s no time for anything else. Or, they’re afraid they’ll hate the lessons, whine a lot, and give up. But, …

Have we missed out? How many “Sandis” haven’t been discovered because we never got them started or because they quit when lessons were over?

Who can you inspire today? Don’t wait.

Which skill is within you that you could develop for God’s service? Don’t wait.

Who inspires you? Who is your Sandi? Thank him or her.

Building Your Child’s Interest Into Their Strengths

Building Your Child's Interests Into Their Strengths

Building Your Child’s Interests Into Their Strengths

Talking with children and teens about their interests is one way to develop strengths. It may be one of the most important ways to encourage children.

Just look. Listen. What do they like doing? What do they talk about? Pay attention – what obviously gives them joy? Enter into conversations. Watch what happens.

I recently spent some time with Lauren, the 11-year-old who took these pictures, and her five siblings and parents. Lauren and her siblings obviously like nature. The children enjoyed pointing out the bunnies in their backyard and telling me stories about their imagined adventures.

After just a few minutes, Lauren asked her mom if she could use her camera. Because her mom quickly said “yes” it indicated to me that it’s a common request. As I watched Lauren, her picture-smart skills became obvious. Because she liked being able to see things more clearly through the camera’s lens and capture what she enjoyed in pictures.

I loved her mom’s support of her interest and budding talent. Lauren was careful with the camera as she spent time in the backyard and front. She showed us her pictures. As I commented on the details, she stood taller and ran to take more pictures.

She came back often to show us more. It’s not hard to encourage children. It’s easy! Because intelligence can become strengths when interests are acknowledged, that’s what we need to do. When Lauren’s mom and I talked with her about specifics we noticed in her pictures, Lauren was encouraged.

She loved being reminded that she’s nature smart and picture smart. I’m grateful her parents affirm her and her siblings with the “smart” language. This encourages children’s interests and strengths.

A Few Of Lauren’s Photos

Lauren didn’t center the pink flower and she focused on it, leaving the background a bit fuzzy. I never would have thought to do that.

She captured raindrops on the daisy.

Lauren patiently waited for the bunny to get into position for the picture she wanted to take.

The detail of the dandelion impresses me.

Lauren is 11!

Children are talented. They are smart! Try spending quality time with children you know and be fully present and focused so you can talk about what interests them. Watch as they respond to your interest. Before you know it, interests will develop into strengths.

To God be the glory!


Are You Encouraging Positive Character Qualities in Your Children?

Are You Encouraging Positive Character Qualities in Your Children?

Are You Encouraging Positive Character Qualities in Your Children?

Last Saturday it was a privilege to teach 16 to 24-year-olds about how they are smart. Their joy as I presented was not surprising. I think everyone wants to know that there are explanations for their preferences and their behaviors. Did you read Monday’s post about helping children develop a healthy character identity? The smarts are relevant.

I talked with these students about how the ways we’re smart influence our choices and the ways we behave. For instance:

  • Logic-smart children may debate more than others and struggle with respecting those they believe make no sense.
  • Body-smart children may touch everything in grandma’s apartment even though she has asked them repeatedly to not to do that.
  • Self-smart children may develop pride in their own opinions and not be terribly teachable.
  • Music-smart children may ignore everyone around them because they “have to” listen to their favorite music.
  • Word-smart children may tease and gossip.
  • Picture-smart children may be judgmental about people’s appearances.
  • Nature-smart children may not to be on their best behavior when stuck inside for a long time.
  • People-smart children can manipulate others quite easily.

I imagine those are enough examples to help you understand why we always teach that self-respect, self-control, and respect for others are character qualities to prioritize. It is these three that often motivate children to use their smarts only for good and not to do harm.

There were positive reactions when I shared illustrations along these lines and talked with these teenagers and young adults about how their misbehavior may be birthed in their smarts. They saw why some of the same misbehavior continues to be an issue for them.

How Can We As Parents Help?

Think about how you can encourage children you love to improve their behavior by adding positive character qualities to their repertoire rather than paralyzing their smarts. “Stop that!” can paralyze them from using the smart related to the negative behavior. They might stop enjoying music altogether. Maybe they won’t ever want to visit their grandma’s apartment again. They may isolate and not want to interact with people since they always seem to get into trouble when they do. Stopping negative behavior is, of course, appropriate. But, we don’t want children of any age to stop being smart.

“Start this!” is beneficial. Start being other-centered. Start being compassionate. Being careful. Start being humble. Start being kind. Be open. Start being ….

How would you love your children to finish this sentence so they’ll use their smart strengths in smart ways?

Developing Friendship with the 8 Great Smarts

How are you doing? What have you been thinking about lately? Maybe your kids and their friends are on your mind since another school year is upon us. Many parents I talk with ask questions about how to help their children with relationships. They can be complex today, can’t they?

That’s one of the reasons I wrote Monday’s blog about children’s social identity. We can help them identify goals for their social selves. But we can do more.

If you’ve heard me speak about the 8 great smarts or read my book, you know that the way kids are smart affects how they relate to peers. When we help them understand how they are smart and how others are smart, they can understand how to talk with their peers and what they might enjoy doing with their peers.

Read on…

Developing Friendship with the 8 Great Smarts

Do you know children or teens who struggle with friends? Who doesn’t? Maybe they think they don’t have enough friends. Maybe they’re trying to have too many. Maybe their friendships don’t tend to last long. Or, maybe they stay at the superficial level. Developing relationships into friendships has never been easy. It’s more complicated today because of social media, family and cultural issues, and busyness.

What if I suggested that when children discover how they are smart, they can more successfully navigate the complexity of friendship? That’s not all. Parents can think about their smarts and how their children are smart when wanting to have fun together and deeper conversations. Both are more likely. It’s true. (I’ll write the rest of this about peer friendships, but everything here can be applied to your desire to stay connected well to your children.)

When children know their smart strengths and want to get to know peers better or just have a good time, they can choose activities that are a good fit. They’ll be most comfortable so they’ll be able to be themselves. Knowing about the smarts also allows children to predict which smarts are strengths in peers they’d like to get to know better. Now, they can choose activities and places with them in mind and they’ll be most comfortable. Make sense?

If I’m already a bit stressed at the prospect of trying to make a good impression and I’m in a situation I’m not comfortable with, our time may not go well. I may be nervous. I may not be able to have confident conversations. I may not think of questions to ask so our conversations don’t last long. I may be bored and the person may think I’m bored with him or her. Not good!

For example, I’m not very picture smart. So, I don’t go out of my way to go to art museums. I have gone with others to honor them. A wise choice! But, it’s not easy for me. I’m out of place. I don’t know why they’re excited with this painting or that sculpture. I don’t always know the words they’re using to describe what they say. (And, I’m word smart! But, the smarts don’t always work together. Because picture smart is one of my weaker intelligences, I don’t have a strong vocabulary for the arts.) Because I’m normally a strong conversationalist, stress can build. I’m also very logic smart so I typically enjoy thinking with questions. I can’t do that in an art museum because I don’t even know enough to know what to ask. Perhaps you can relate even if your smart strengths are different.

So, how can we help our children create positive encounters so relationships will grow into friendships? Teach them how they are smart and how that can influence their decisions and conversations.

When children are body smart, they think with movement and touch. They enjoy moving and will stay most engaged when they have the freedom to move. They like to keep their hands busy. They’ll also enjoy participating in physical activities and will probably enjoy watching sporting events, too.

When children are logic smart, they think with questions. These children may most easily connect with others who also enjoy investigating ideas. They may enjoy discussing books together, going to museums, and exploring and discovering new places and things.

When children are music smart, they think with rhythms and melodies. Connecting over music and musical groups will solidify relationships for music-smart children. They’ll enjoy going to concerts and listening to music together at home or in music stores.

When children are nature smart, they think with patterns. These children will enjoy spending time outside, going for a walk, spending time at a pet store, and going to the zoo. They may enjoy collecting things together as they examine different patterns. Bonding with each other’s pets will also connect them.

When children are people smart, they think with other people. These children will often have healthy relationships because they have the ability to discern people’s motives and more. They enjoy talking, brainstorming, and discovering truths together. They often prefer to be with several people rather than just one other person. They don’t necessarily need to do much together; it’s being together that matters.

When children are picture smart, they think with their eyes in pictures. These children may enjoy crafting together, talking about art and colorful things even in malls, and watching movies. Sometimes they’ll engage longer in conversations when allowed to doodle. Enjoying and examining pictures in books may result in great conversations. They’ll also enjoy talking about the things they see in their vivid imagination.

When children are self smart, they think with reflection deeply inside of themselves. These children usually don’t need as many friends as others do. But, they still need to be connected to healthy peers and family. Having their thoughts and opinions respected is important. They’ll often prefer quiet and talking about things worth thinking about. They’ll enjoy questioning others about their beliefs so others need to be confident.

When children are word smart, they think with words. Talking, talking, and talking more will often be the preference of word-smart children. They need friends to listen and engage in conversations. They may bond by reading the same book and then talking about it. Walking through bookstores together will be considered fun.

What do you think? I hope you have ideas relevant to one or more of your children. (There are many more ideas and illustrations in my new book.) And, remember my illustration of going to art museums. If you know your children are going to be somewhere or doing something that isn’t necessarily a high interest or strength, prepare them as best you can.

Talk with your children about what you’ve noticed about their smarts. When they know how they’re smart, they’ll be more confident and more creative with friends. When discovering how their friends are smart, they’ll better honor them. That will be a win-win.

8GreatSmarts_3D-web8 Great Smarts is an extensively expanded re-release of my 2007 book, How Am I Smart? If you read that, you might be wondering how 8 Great Smarts is better. I include much more about character, added relevant ideas about technology, included more ideas about learning with all the smarts, reorganized the chapters for a fresh read, and ended the chapters very uniquely. I think you’ll love it!

Processing Feelings With The 8 Great Smarts

On Monday, I shared about the importance of helping children develop a healthy emotional identity. Just two days before, I had shared at a convention that children can use their 8 great smarts to process feelings well. I share this every time I teach about the smarts because parents and teachers have consistently appreciated the information and examples. Writing Monday’s post and reflecting on Saturday’s convention experience reminded me of this post from last June. I believe it’s important enough to launch again. I hope you agree. And, as always, I hope and pray you’re blessed by reading it.

Processing Feelings With The 8 Great Smarts by Dr. Kathy Koch

Lately I’ve included the importance of talking with children about their emotions in most of my messages. Even though the topic may not be in my notes and may not appear to be immediately relevant, the idea comes to mind. Then I share. Then I know it’s relevant. Parents nod. I watch them take notes.

Children and teens have many emotional responses to life. Boys have as many as girls, but they lack emotional vocabulary so this can make feelings even more stressful for boys. Because of kids’ exposure to the world on the web and live, unedited footage of happenings locally and everywhere, they see and hear much more than we would have at their age. Consequently, they feel more, too.

As people know who have heard me teach about kids’ 8 great smarts, we can teach children to think with all 8 and feel with all 8. When we encourage them to process feelings with their smart strengths, they’ll have more complete feelings. They won’t be negatively controlled by feelings and they’ll eventually have a healthier perspective toward the event, themselves, and other people.

The same ideas may work for positive feelings such as joy, gratefulness, and excitement and those we may think of as negative such as fear, grief, anger, and doubt. It may be more necessary to help children process hard feelings, but when we do, they’ll learn things that will help them when positive feelings also feel overwhelming.

As you read through my ideas, you could have the unwarranted and tragic killings of the young lives in Orlando on your mind, some sadness a child had to deal with such as being cut from a sports team, or their joy at earning a top score at a music competition.

Let’s guide children to use their smarts to process their feelings – to better feel their feelings and think about them, too. I’m certainly not suggesting you sit them down with directions like, “Okay, now let’s think about your feelings with movement and touch so you can use your body to process them.” No … I’m simply asking you to remember to lead them through your words and actions to opportunities so they can process feelings with their smarts.

Here are some suggestions:

When using word smart, children think with words. They will need to talk. Some may want to have long conversations with you. Others may prefer short conversations that occur on-and-off. And, some won’t need you at all. It’s more a matter of them being allowed to process their thoughts in words – out loud, on paper, and perhaps by typing. They may also benefit by listening to you talk about your feelings and how you’re dealing with them.

When using logic smart, children think with questions. They want things to be fair and get frustrated when they’re not. Therefore, incidents like the Orlando tragedy can make them very angry. We need to be available to their questions. Conversations will be very helpful. Also, they may do research online about the incident that triggered their feelings, people involved, how others are responding, and the like. When using our logic, we are solution-focused. For example, hundreds in Orlando gave blood. Airlines and hotels helped with expenses for family members. Rallies were held so victims could be honored and those grieving wouldn’t be alone. Thinking about these types of things will give logic-smart children great hope.

When using picture smart, children think with pictures. They often see images vividly in their minds and will almost always remember their dreams in more detail than others will. They may also draw on paper. Drawing or coloring with them may help them process feelings because you’ll be right there as they’re thinking and feeling. We can also ask them what they see in their minds as we’re talking. This question may surprise your children, but it’s very honoring. They will feel known and safe. As they listen to the news and overhear our conversations, words can trigger pictures. Images they see on TV and the Internet trigger pictures. For many picture-smart children, they’ll struggle to not see them. Therefore, guard their eyes.

When using music smart, children think with rhythms and melodies. Listening to their favorite music can be especially important as they process both good and hard feelings. They may also want to play or sing. For example, I know many piano players, both children and adults, who play when emotional. You can sit in the room with them and sing or play with them. Just being available will give you opportunities to then talk with them. All children have all 8 smarts and they work in combination. So, these children may be better able to talk with you about what they’re feeling after they first process their feelings through music.

When using body smart, children think with movement and touch. Therefore, they will need to move freely and often while feeling their feelings. Movement and touch help them think and relax. Help these kids by going for a walk with them, talking while you push them on a swing, go to the driving range, and shoot hoops in your driveway. They may want and need even more hugs and other physical contact than normal. Fist bump them, walk holding hands, and scratch their backs while talking at the table. If exercising, dancing, drumming, or crafting are normal activities, they’ll need to continue these or stress will badly build.

When using nature smart, children think with patterns. They may need to spend time outside just sitting on a bench or walking in a park. They can benefit from doing this alone and with others. If they have pets, they’ll gain more comfort from interacting with them than others. Garden with these kids, go to a pet shelter, and visit the zoo. These children may open up more in these environments.

When using people smart, children think with people. Like when children are word smart, they’ll process with words. But, these children need conversations and don’t do well feeling or thinking alone. They’ll grieve best and process their fears and confusion most deeply when spending time with other people. They’ll want to test their thoughts and feelings by sharing them and having you react to them. Interacting with others feeling the same feelings can be comforting. These children may want to visit memorials and attend gatherings of others.

When using self smart, children think with reflection. Unlike children using their people smart, when being self smart, children process their thoughts and feelings alone, thinking and feeling deeply inside of themselves. They will actually prefer to feel alone, in quiet and privacy. They’ll need space. Stress will build if they don’t have it. It’s a fine balance, isn’t it? Parents and other significant people in their lives need to know how they’re feeling and what they’re feeling. You’ll learn to not ask them in groups. And, don’t expect quick answers. Share some of your feelings with them and this might encourage them to share their feelings with you – someone they’re safe with. and, remember that the smarts work together. Is your self-smart child nature smart? Go for a quiet walk in a park. Is your child picture smart? Sit side-by-side and color. This may help them open up. Is your child music smart? Listen to his or her favorite music together. Just being present will help them.

Okay, what do you think? I truly hope this isn’t overwhelming, but is a blessing. What if you printed this out and had it handy to refer to in the future? Children (and adults) must process feelings in healthy ways or they become overwhelming or we stuff them deep down to deal with later. But, too often we never do. That creates bigger problems later. Being available and guiding our children to feel what they feel may be one of the most important things we do. Bless you as you parent well in this way.

Does Being “Smart” Matter To Your Children? Why?

If you read Monday’s blog about helping children develop a healthy intellectual identity, I predict you weren’t surprised by the number of groups of teens who admitted they wanted to be smart. You might think they were influenced by the fact that I’m the “8 great smarts” lady, but I don’t think so. If you had asked, I believe they would have prioritized “smart,” too.

Why is “smart” something they want to be? For many years, I’ve referred to the word as a “power word.” Everyone wants to be smart.

Certainly, the present is a factor. Being smart just makes school easier and more pleasant. Some of these teens have parents they want to please who have probably told them being smart matters.

The future is a factor. Children inherently know that being smart increases education and career options.

I think the past has influenced them, too. When they were little, relatives and friends told them they were smart and had done a “good job” on any number of tasks. Parents clapped when they successfully repeated important behaviors and skills. These children, now teens, figured out that it mattered to figure things out.

Doing things well also made them feel good inside. Teens want to keep experiencing that feeling.

Ask your kids about being smart. Does it matter to them? Why?

A caution about screens: When I was a child, my parents interacted with me as I was learning. When my nieces and nephew were young, I interacted with them. Smiles on our faces, joy in our voices, and the applause of our hands communicated “well done” and “you are smart.”

When they were playing, learning to read, coloring, and the like, we probably said things like,

Way to go. That was easy for you!

I knew you could do it. You’re smart!

I love your creativity! That’s a beautiful drawing.

You built a lot of cool things with your blocks. You’re very good at that!

Because we were there, they learned what we valued.

If children are allowed to isolate with an app on a device in order to experience and learn things that we used to do with others, they may not receive any supportive messages at all. Research suggests they won’t retain the learning because they’re not interacting with people. Let’s be concerned. Let’s put screens down and interact. It will help them be smart and help them set goals like, “I want to be smart!”

Do You “Highly Value” The Way God made Your Children Smart?

Don’t let this be your story.

Recently it was my privilege to teach older teenagers and young adults about the 8 Great Smarts. As with other groups, I could tell they were encouraged to discover that they are smarter than they thought they were and that the way they’re smart is God’s choice.

During some question and answer time, one young man stayed back. He began, “What could my friend do …”. The whole time I listened and then answered him, I wondered if the question was actually about him. Near the end, tears in his eyes confirmed it most likely was. I didn’t let on that I drew that conclusion.

What did he want to know? “What could my friend do who is very music smart and loves being music smart, but has a dad who doesn’t care about it at all?”

I encouraged him to affirm his friend’s musical gifts and desires. Peer support matters. I talked about his friend’s need to honor his dad even though he didn’t value this way his son was smart. I encouraged him to stand up for himself when he could, while still respecting his father.

This young man knew about my musical abilities and that they remained a hobby and joy for me and not a career pursuit. So, I talked about that. We talked about careers and how important it would be for this friend to find fulfillment and success even if he didn’t feel free to pursue music because of his dad’s opinion.

My heart was heavy and concentrating wasn’t easy. One of my goals in answering was that this young man would believe in his ability (or help his friend believe in his ability) even if the dad dismissed it. This was about identity and God’s choice in designing him/the friend. It was no small question.

Also, because I sensed that at least part of the question was about how this friend could connect with his dad, we talked about finding something they have in common and bonding over that. I suggested that as they did things together and had fun together, his friend wouldn’t feel as much pain from the sting of rejection. He had a strong reaction to this idea. I believe his pain was deep.

When our children don’t think we value how they are smart,

  • they may question whether we value them,
  • they may work to develop a skill they think we value, but resent it the entire time,
  • they may choose not to develop other gifts and talents because they feel hopeless,
  • they may reject how God made them smart,
  • they may question whether God did a good thing making them the way He did,
  • and, ….

What would you add?

What would you say to children you know who are concerned that their parents don’t value the way they’re smart

If I asked your children whether you value the way they’re smart, what might they say? What if I gave them a scale of 1-10 with 10 meaning “highly value”? What score might you get? What could you do to raise the score?

What if we had your children rate themselves? Do they “highly value” the way God made them smart or not? How can you talk about this with them? When will you?