What kind of future do you envision for that preschooler who is trying to get you to taste a mud pie? Chef? Entrepreneur? Scholar? I hope you’re not waiting to see how smart your well-meaning mini-me is, because that’s not how it works.
Smart isn’t what you are. Smart is what you become. The good news is your kids will become smarter than they already are. The bad news is if you don’t realize you have to provide the tools and opportunities, waiting for them to get smarter may take a while.
Smartness is a skill that needs to be developed over time. How? Here are 30 of my favorite tools:
- Avoid processed foods.
- Eat organic when possible.
- Make mistakes, and cope.
- Celebrate success.
- Share feelings.
- Don’t overload schedules.
- Move your body every day.
- Study a new language.
- Be a problem solver.
- Play an instrument.
- Climb a tree.
- Learn to love books.
- Experience 1-to-1 interactions daily.
- Limit screen time.
- Have dinner discussions.
- Proactively reduce stress.
- Eat breakfast (healthy fare only).
- Try new experiences.
- Challenge your brain.
- Play chess and checkers.
- Be responsible.
- Feed self-worth.
- Help others.
- Don’t take it personally.
- Learn to juggle a ball.
- Track progress along your continuum (don’t compare to others).
I chose these because their importance is highly underrated, but you can visit Best For the Kids for a great info-graphic that includes 101 ways to create smarter kids.
Now that you know how to help your kids get smart, do you know what your next step is? (Hint: It is not selecting something from the list.)
Your next step is to share this list with your child. (If you have multiple kids, share it with them individually.)
Emphasize “Smart isn’t what you are. Smart is what you become.” Then take the list and sort the 30 items into 4 categories (you can always add more categories to suit your situation.):
- TBA – To Be Attempted
- Newbie – just getting started
- Habitual – do this regularly already
- Mastered – ready to expand it with a bit of experimentation
Reflect on the results. Remind your kids the Mastered and Habitual items are already contributing to their smartness, even if it doesn’t feel like it.
Ask them to pick one thing on the list they’d like to do to further increase their smartness. To explain to your children why they may not notice the effects, tell them smartness is the result of brain cells being produced to accommodate challenges, and brain cells are too small to see. However, you have proof that things on the list make you smarter because of the ones already mastered. Your child can understand and believe they are way smarter now than they were when they were toddlers!
Remember to compare their progress to where they were before (and not to another child, or to you when you were their age), and your children will learn to value their worth.
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