10 Ways to Raise a Smart Kid…hint: Praise isn’t one of them!

Many parents desire smart kids.

Some folks attempt to up the intelligence factor even before their child leaves the womb by listening to classical music or reading to their pre-born baby. There is even a product line that has tapped into the brilliant-baby trend called Baby Einstein.
There is nothing wrong with doing these things or purchasing these products but there are better ways to go if you really want to increase your child’s intelligence.
Give your kids the desire to learn. Motivate them to pursue a goal by exerting effort. 
Previously it has been thought that telling our kid he is soooooooooo smart was the way to increase self-esteem and  thereby increasing the child’s ability to learn.
As it turn out, according to the Growth Mindset and common sense, this is not accurate.
Praise is good if it is specific and true;  like giving an acknowledgement of success via congratulations for a particular accomplishment. Yes, celebrate. Of course! 
But randomly or insincerely telling kids they are the best, the brightest, the most talented  will back fire.
Kids who have been told how perfect and wonderful they are in all areas have no motivation to learn, are resistant to correction, and have no desire to persevere to achieve goal. They expect everything to come easily so they naturally give out minimal to zero effort. 
It makes sense why a kid who thinks he’s the smartest person in the room will not listen to another  trying to teach a skill. 
It makes sense why the child wouldn’t try hard. Why should he if things  should come easy? Why exert blood, sweat, and tears when one is so smart or talented?
By continually praising a child he develops an inaccurate view of himself and his abilities. Arrogance is the characteristic that is grown.My colleague ( over at www.1Corinthians13Parenting.com ), Dr. Jim Dempsey, calls this Poisonous Praise
Success typically comes by implementing the  philosophy of slow and steady wins the race. The determined tortoise beats the swift hare in the race to the finish line.

Creativity is bred through discovering ways to solve a problem. Failure is part of the creative the experience.

The ability to push through the frustration with the determination to figure out a solution fosters that, “I’m not giving up,” mentality.

A struggle, a challenge. Those are the situations that have potential to increase personal potential. 

Here’s what our kids ought to learn from us so they can be life-long learners. They need to know: 
1. They are capable. By exerting effort they have the ability to grow and stretch their mind. Perhaps not perfectly but they can improve. 
2. Nature isn’t the only way smarts are grown. Success is nurtured through hard work and perseverance. 
3. Challenges are good. Being challenged is critical to a child’s social-emotional and physical development. If there is no challenge there is little to no sense of accomplishment. 
4. Failure isn’t bad. Failure is the best teacher. It is the fuel for the creative process to kick in. 
5. No one can be good at everything. Children should have an accurate assessment of their strengths and weaknesses. 
6. Their parents are not perfect at everything. Moms and dads have to work hard to achieve a goal as well. When kids know this so they feel more comfortable asking for help and are more okay with life struggles.
7. It’s okay to admit to struggling with something. Humility and authenticity are fostered when kids can admit something is difficult. 

8. How to advocate for themselves when they assistance.  Confidence is demonstrated when one is able to seek out and ask for help. 
9. How to cope with failure, to not to give up when the going gets tough. How a person deals with failure says a lot about their character. 

10. They can learn from someone else and someone else may benefit from a skill or talent they possess. Being able to rely on another and  help out someone creates a a sense of interdependence. We really do need each other. 
 Hard work is hard work… and it’s okay. We want our kids to have a teachable spirit. If we constantly tell them they are so great we squelch the, “I’m ready and willing to learn” and foster “I know-it-all” instead.

Let the wise listen and add to their learning.
Proverbs 1:5
Lori Wildenberg Co-founder of 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting, co-author of three parenting books.  Contact Lori for your next speaking engagement.If you found this post helpful check out Lori’s co-authored books:

and Raising Big Kids with Supernatural Love  ( tween to young adult).

© LoriWildenberg. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Lori Wildenberg is a licensed parent and family educator, parent coach, and co-founder of 1Corinthians13Parenting.com. She has written 5 books including Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home. and her most recent book The Messy Life of Parenting: Powerful and Practical Ways to Strengthen Family ConnectionsContact Lori for your next event or for parent consulting or parent training courses. Lori can also be found mentoring over at the MOMS Together Group on Facebook.

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