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?

Honoring Our Children Will Manifest Beauty in Exhilarating Ways

Sometimes I audibly gasp when reading Facebook posts. That happened last night as I read a post by my friend, Valerie, about her parenting journey and her 15-year-old daughter’s choice.

Learning about the 8 great ways kids are smart and other principles of honoring children has encouraged Valerie. I love teaching her – as I do so many of you – because she is open. I hope her words here speak to you. Yes, you!

From Valerie…

To my young mom friends: God has blessed me with three very different young women. We all get each other at times but we all think very differently. We argue differently, we praise differently, we study differently, we have different hobbies, different likes, different dislikes.

It has taken me a long time to realize that my kids don’t have to do it my way. In fact, their ways teach them faster, teach them more deeply, grow them better.

A few months ago Kaleigh came to us and asked if she could turn her linen closet into a prayer closet. To be honest, I didn’t know how much she would be in there –  but she spends hours each week in there – journaling, drawing, worshiping.

Last week, she asked if she could paint on the walls in her prayer closet. This goes against everything I am. “We don’t want to make a mess.” “You might spill paint on the floor.” “Do people really just paint on the walls, like with total freedom and without fear of failure?!?!” (My own issues.)

Well, after 3 hours, here is the result. She intends to paint over it one day, when she feels she needs a new picture – and start over.

Mom friends – I’m almost at the end of my “raising” times – and I am just finding the freedom to let them be who God made them to be. It’s exhilarating, inspiring and freeing.

Relax! Be An Encouragement To Your Teen

God generously created each of us with 8 Great Smarts. Helping children and teens understand they’re all smart in different ways has been invigorating for all of us at Celebrate Kids, Inc.

During the past few years, encouraging parents with this truth has been rich. I want them to know in the knowing of their knowing with a deep, unshakable confidence that children who struggle sometimes in school often have very successful lives. This is partly because all 8 smarts matter for life even if they don’t all matter in some school structures.

I wish more parents would relax. I wish they’d take the pressure off of kids to always earn straight A’s. I wish they’d let them play more and learn by doing. I wish teens would believe they can accomplish much good in the world even if they don’t graduate in the top 10% of their class. Absolutely!

So during this season of graduations, report cards, GPAs, and dreams of the future, I share this video with you. It will get you thinking. You may want to share it with discouraged teens. Bookmark it and watch it twice a year.

I want you to know in the knowing of your knowing with a deep, unshakable confidence that children who struggle can absolutely, positively leave the world a better place with their contributions. I want your children to know that, too!

Source: Time

God’s Wisdom & The “Logic Smart”

He approached me at our exhibit space like a lot of other parents. But, he didn’t want to talk about his children. Like often happens, my teaching about the 8 great smarts had affected him personally.

To make the point that the way children are smart can influence the way we present the gospel I had shared part of my story. Because I’m very logic smart, when I was young, I had many questions about God, church, and differences among churches.

When I was 19, at one of my many meetings with my pastor, he answered more of my questions, affirmed that it was okay to have questions, and shared what we learn about Jesus from Colossians 2:3:

“in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

That truth was a turning point for me. As I said in the seminar this dad attended, I needed God’s wisdom. At the time, I didn’t think I needed His love. So often people talk about God’s love. That’s understandable. Everyone needs love and God’s love is profound. Yet, it’s not the only thing that’s powerfully true about God.

He is also the wisdom we need. As a logic-smart person, it’s what I knew I needed. As an introvert deeply loved by an extended family, I thought I had enough love.

After trusting Christ as my Savior and Lord, I began to understand how much I needed God’s love and how much loving Him back would encourage me. But, love never would have been the initial draw to Christ for me.

I knew the gospel – Jesus died for my sin and rose from the dead. I believed that. Because I’m logic-smart, I wanted this to make sense. I wanted to be able to explain it to others. I sometimes say that faith is hard for logic-smart people because it can’t be easily explained. Knowing this about me, my pastor shared Colossians 2:3. He also taught me that the Holy Spirit would teach me and help me understand Scripture after I believed. That was the other missing piece for me.

This dad was encouraged to know he wasn’t alone in searching for answers. He admitted to sometimes doubting and being angry with himself for wanting to know more about things others just seemed to accept as truth. He appreciated being affirmed for wanting wisdom. He was validated and said he could now relax. That’s huge!

What about you? Do you know anyone for whom God’s wisdom would be important to talk with them about? Don’t delay.

“Smarts” Help Us Communicate In Life-Enriching Ways

All of us at Celebrate Kids believe so firmly in the value of conversation that we post a question worth asking children on our Facebook page every weekday. We also designed an app that publishes a question every day to ask children. For example, yesterday’s was “What’s one thing you learned in “science, health, history, art, etc.) today?” That question will most likely get more details from children than the more typical, “How was school?” and “What did you learn today?” And, if you know your children have art on Tuesdays and you remember to ask about art on Tuesdays, they’ll know you’re paying attention. That blesses children!

Further evidence that we know parents and kids need to talk is found in the subtitle of my book about technology’s influence on children’s beliefs and behaviors. It’s “Connecting With Our Kids in a Wireless World.”

As I wrote about in the last several blogs, children need parents to talk to so they can reap all the benefits possible from playtime and even from the technology we allow them to use. They also can learn skills through conversation.

If you haven’t read these blogs and would like to do so, here are the links:

Remembering to use the 8 great smarts doesn’t just help us play well with kids. They can also help our conversations go well. There are several things to consider when wanting to use your knowledge of multiple intelligences when talking with children:

  • Children will often talk more when involved in activities that are their strengths and that they enjoy. Rather than having serious conversations over meals or while just sitting with your children, try engaging them while they’re busy.
  • Children may be more willing to talk about the things they enjoy related to the smarts and then you can transition from those topics to other things you want to talk about.
  • Children may listen and talk more when you bond over your similar interests and abilities. You can tell stories about your past use of one of the smarts that one of your children is currently expressing an interest in. You can ask questions about how they do something that you do differently. Connections strengthen conversations.

And, of course, just talking about the smarts may keep the conversations going. Often starting with something children are familiar with and then transitioning to something you need to talk about works. For example:

  • Nature-smart children may want to talk with you about plants, animals, rocks, stars, wind, and any number of things relevant to nature. They also think with patterns so talking about the design of things can engage them.
  • Body-smart children will enjoy talking about their favorite sport, teams, and athletes that they may follow or watch on television. Or, maybe their body-smart ability is demonstrated through dance or acting. When that’s the case, talking about those things will be wise. They think with movement and touch so don’t expect them to engage deeply with you if they must sit still and keep their hands to themselves.
  • Self-smart children think with reflection so asking them questions and giving them time to think before expecting them to answer deeply is respectful. They may enjoy interacting with you most about deep subjects that interest them. Asking them about how they formed their opinion and the reasons they believe what they believe will connect you well.
  • People-smart children will engage over just about any topic as long as they get to listen and talk. That’s the key. Don’t lecture. Discuss because they think with other people so they need your input and reactions.
  • Logic-smart children may enjoy talking about new discoveries and research they’d love to do. They think with questions so asking and answering them are keys to successful conversations. Don’t just ask questions you want answers to. Make sure to ask questions they’ll want to answer.
  • Word-smart children can talk about books they read recently. They may be interested in hearing about yours. Talking about their favorite words can be fun. They think by reading, writing, speaking, and listening so using all four can be profitable.
  • Picture-smart children may want to talk about why their favorite color is their favorite, why they enjoy the art mediums they do, and something they want to do when they’re older that is related to their creative abilities. They think in pictures so speaking with rich adjectives and vivid verbs can help them pay attention. Allowing them to tell stories about the things they see in their minds is helpful.
  • Music-smart children will love to talk about their favorite musical group and their favorite style of music. They may want to listen to yours and talk with you about it. They think with rhythms and melodies so don’t be surprised if they make music by tapping their foot or rolling their fingers on the table while you talk.

When we talk with children about their smarts or consider their smarts when talking and listening, it shows them that we know them and we care who they are.

Talking matters. Remembering all 8 smarts can help everyone have deeper and more satisfying conversations. I hope that happens for you and your kids!

Did you enjoy Diana Waring’s creative videos about the smarts that I shared here on my blog in January, February, and March? Did you miss some or have you wished you could conveniently watch them over and over again? We have great news. You can buy a DVD of the videos right here.

Our “Smarts” Make Play Time Even More Enjoyable

In the last three blogs, I’ve promoted old-fashioned play time and talk time for many beneficial reasons. This means most of us need to use technology less. I’d love to know if anything I wrote inspired you to play more or talk more. I hope so!

If you haven’t read them and would like to do so, here are the links:

Understanding how your children are smart can make playing together easier. For example:

  • Nature-smart children may prefer playing outside. Investigating things outside will also feel like play to them. Because they think with patterns, they may also enjoy games that have categories and matching tasks.
  • Body-smart children may prefer large-motor play and sports that involve their whole body. Those with small-motor body-smart skills will enjoy building with blocks, digging in the sand, and even coloring.
  • Self-smart children may play more successfully with others when you tap into their people-smart abilities. They still may be quieter than some kids. That’s okay. They will often be content playing alone. Their other smarts will determine which types of activities they enjoy.
  • People-smart children may prefer activities that encourage them to purposefully interact with others. Games like charades and being on a team for a scavenger hunt may appeal to them.
  • Logic-smart children may enjoy challenges and puzzles. Games that engage their mind in problem-solving activities may be their favorites.
  • Word-smart children may enjoy games that use words and that depend on memory for details (e.g., Scrabble, Apples to Apples). No matter what they’re doing, they’re going to want to talk about it.
  • Picture-smart children may enjoy creative pursuits. They may want to dress up for tea parties and pretend to be pirates overtaking your house. They will also enjoy art activities and games that are visually appealing. Because the smarts never work alone, other strengths will influence choices. (This is true for all 8 smarts.) For instance, some picture-smart children will want to paint and color. Others will want to create with clay.
  • Music-smart children may enjoy singing, dancing, and making noise together. They may prefer to have music on in the background no matter how you’re playing with them.

Each chapter in my book, 8 Great Smarts, ends with a list of games children can play to awaken and strengthen the smarts. You may want to check out the lists.

Play matters. Remembering all 8 smarts can help everyone have more fun. I hope that happens for you and your kids!

Did you enjoy Diana Waring’s creative videos about the smarts that I shared here on my blog in January, February, and March? Did you miss some or have you wished you could conveniently watch them over and over again? We have great news. You can buy a DVD of the videos right here.

Even More Good Reasons To Take a Tech Break!

Would you like more good news?

On Monday, I shared that kids can learn impulse control and self-regulation by playing and interacting with their parents. This has maybe never been more important since using lots of technology delays the development of both.

There are more reasons to play with children and teens. Skills essential for school success that are part of the executive functioning part of the brain are affected.

Do you want your children to be successful with these skills?

  • Creative thinking – able to think of ideas and answers that aren’t obvious
  • Flexible thinking – able to connect ideas uniquely that don’t automatically appear to go together
  • Higher-order thinking – able to analyze, synthesize, predict, evaluate, infer, interpret, and reflect
  • Task persistence – able to stay the course and complete work independently
  • Emotion regulation – able to identify emotional responses, respond to people and situations with appropriate/healthy emotions, and not be controlled by them

I imagine you want children to have these skills. There are two things to do:

  • Play with your children; don’t just watch them play. Social and unstructured play that does not involve digital devices engages and improves these skills.
  • Talk with your children. Parent-child interactions are essential. Talking while running errands, completing chores, playing, hanging out together, and the like will enhance these executive functioning skills.

Have you had a similar thought to mine while reading the skill list? I know adults who need these skills. Maybe playing and conversational interactions with others would help us all.

As I wrote on Monday … Play and talk with your kids. Interact with them when you do things together. Take breaks from technology regularly. Repeat. Play and talk with your kids. Interact with them when you do things together. Take breaks from technology regularly. Repeat.

Help Children Know What They Do Well So They Do Things Well

Differences between middle schoolers and high schoolers were obvious. Sadly, they almost always are.

During a recent chapel at an impressive Christian school, one group eagerly raised their hands to answer my questions. The other group did not. Can you predict which was which?

Who likes to write?

Who enjoys discovering truth on your own and exploring?

Who thinks body smart is one of your strengths?

More middle schoolers than high schoolers eagerly raised their hands. It’s not because high schoolers don’t know themselves. Most do. Rather, it was as if these students didn’t want anyone to know their strengths or that they liked anything. This should not be embarrassing.

Some high schoolers raised their hands high. Some raised them only in front of their faces and made eye contact with me and smiled. Others just made eye contact with me.

Talk with your children/students. Do they know their strengths and what they enjoy and don’t enjoy? If they don’t, observe them more closely and let them know what you see. Provide evidence for your opinions. Prioritize developing their self-awareness by strengthening their self-smartness.

If they do know what they enjoy and what they do well, but don’t want their peers to know, ask them why. Have they been teased? Embarrassed? Prideful? Talk about this with them. It’s good for peers to acknowledge friends’ strengths and interests. There are ways to encourage one another without building pride.

The night of the chapel talk I met many of the students’ parents at an event. Over and over again I heard how middle schoolers and high schoolers loved learning how they are smart. I thought high schoolers were definitely listening and enjoying the presentation. I was encouraged they told their parents about it and how they’re smart.

Young people who know their interests and strengths are more likely to use them and further develop them as a source of their joy. They’ll acknowledge they’re relevant to how they can leave the world a better place.

When they know how peers are talented, they can form groups for class projects, service projects, and more. They can identify who can help them with a weak area. They can identify who they can help. It’s good for the group dynamic.

Make sure your children/students know what they do well so they’ll do things well.

Bringing Comfort The “Smarts” Way

Henry did fantastic today! He toured the entire hospital, got a million pets and treats from docs, nurses, and the volunteer and marketing staff. Also visited a special patient, a young woman recently and mysteriously paralyzed from the waist down. Hen got in bed and snuggled next to her side. Definitely in his element. Sights, sounds, smells, wheelchairs, elevators, crowds… the guy never stopped smiling.

I will admit that I would not want a dog to visit me when I’ve been a hospital patient. (But I’ll also admit Henry is very cute and being well trained makes a difference.) Give me a crossword puzzle book instead. That would calm me down. Or, engage me in conversation if I’m up to it. Answer my questions. As hard as it is for some people to understand, logic-smart and word-smart activities comfort me like a dog will comfort nature-smart people.

Amy, my friend who is training Henry and who posted this Facebook update, is nature smart. I’m grateful for her and every person who uses their smarts for good and to help people.

Do you think Henry, and other service dogs, are people-smart? Do you think that’s possible? 

A Dangerous Development Met With God’s Grace & Empowering Smarts

I had just left an important meeting about a pro-life initiative we are going to be involved in. It was a stimulating, encouraging, and uplifting time. I was among great people and was so glad to be there.

I walked  to my car, started the engine, and pulled out onto the streets of Dallas heading for the highway home. I expected it to be a normal drive like many others. That’s not what happened.

While entering the highway, I ran over a large rock that was in the road. I didn’t see it because of the car in front of me. Gratefully, I maintained control of my car and kept driving. All appeared well until about ten minutes later. I heard what I initially thought was a large truck coming up behind me. I quickly realized that my car was actually the one making the loud noise. I realized that the rock must have damaged my tire. Because of the sounds, I knew it was shredding and I’d soon be driving on my rim. I was in the middle lane of a major highway going about 65 mph. God provided a way out and I made it to a safe space on the side of the road.

TireCourtesyPatrolI caught my breath and praised God for taking care of me again. I called for service and was set to wait for a predicted hour. Before the technician could arrive, a courtesy officer with the sheriff’s department arrived. What a blessing!

This officer was friendly and compassionate. I immediately felt even safer than I had. He very efficiently changed my tire and sent me on my way.

Just two hours after I pulled off the side of the road, I was already at the tire repair store near my home. Amazing! It happened in Dallas, I live in Fort Worth, it was 2:30 in the afternoon on a major highway, and I had to drive 60 mph because of my spare. It could have been miserable. It wasn’t. Another reason to be grateful.