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The well-kept secret about how to raise smart kids-The answer will change how you parent

By the end of this article you will change the way you talk with your kid…

There are many lazy geniuses in the world whose parents gushed with pride because their IQs and vocabulary were so impressive when they were a child.  Little did those parents now that their constant praise of “how smart their kid is” was only undermining their kids own ability to actually succeed in the real world.

Over three decades of research indicates the last thing you want to do is tell your kid how smart they are! 

Where are these geniuses or highly intelligent people now? There is no shortage of very smart people who for one reason or another are living out a very unspectacular existence, often in low-level positions or burning through employment opportunities because they don’t know how to work on teams.

A common trend is for these children to feel they are misunderstood and deserve special treatment.  Why shouldn’t they?  Their kid was maybe in a gifted program.  But as I have said before (https://www.doctorbrunner.com/why-your-childs-iq-is-less-important-than-you-think-what-really-predicts-whose-kids-will-excel-in-life/), IQ does not predict success in the real world.

As a recent Scientific American (SA) article points out (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-secret-to-raising-smart-kids1/), the most important thing to do with kids is to help them understand that intelligence in itself will not get you very far.  I have talked about this before, in the link cited above.

The author of the SA article summarizes the article in the following way, and I cannot say it better:  “Many people assume that superior intelligence or ability is a key to success. But more than three decades of research shows that an overemphasis on intellect or talent—and the implication that such traits are innate and fixed—leaves people vulnerable to failure, fearful of challenges and unmotivated to learn”. Drink that in and let it sit in the pit of your stomach.  If you digest that it should scare you, because most of us are telling our kids how smart they are, but we are undermining their ability to develop beyond how far their charisma and ego will take them. 

The author goes on to advise that the MOST IMPORTANT thing to do with your kids is to teach them to have a “growth mind-set”; encourage them to focus on “process” rather than on intelligence or talent.  This is what creates high achievers in school and in life.

Here’s where the rubber hits the road: whether you are a parent or teacher or child care professional you can engender a growth mind-set in children by “praising them for their persistence or strategies (rather than for their intelligence), by telling success stories that emphasize hard work and love of learning, and by teaching them about the brain as a learning machine” (Scientific American article quote). The SA article has numerous examples of the best way to praise your kid, think about posting that on your fridge for a few weeks.

If you listen to some of the greatest coaches or leaders of organizations, you’ll notice that a “red thread” theme running through all of what they talk about is THE PROCESS.  As an Arizona Wildcat fan, I’m an avid follower of what head basketball coach Sean Miller does with his athletes.  Every time you hear him talk he is always bringing up the work process.  Miller has an amazing 75% win percentage rate; he is one of the most successful basketball coaches and likely will go on to be one of The Grades.

What is the most common word he uses to talk about what he is doing with his team?

Let me paraphrase Sean Miller:  “It’s all about the process”.

There’s an old saying that “pretty is as pretty does”.  The idea is that no matter how pretty you are, it is about how you behave.  Here’s what the new saying is that you should post on your refrigerator:  “Intelligence is as intelligence does”.  In other words, as a psychologist colleague of mine said a few days ago: “You determine genius by looking at application in the real world”.

Make the result of this article to be the following: You will praise your kids for the processes, work ethic, and creativity they used, not the brains (you think) they have.

Meet Doctor Brunner

Dr. Thomas (Tom) Brunner is a Tucson based psychologist and published expert who has a 20 year track record of clinical excellence, scientific research, teaching, publications, awards and podcast interviews.  He is the senior author of a psychological measure adapted into 14 languages worldwide, and has written over 250 blogs, many of them have gone viral.  He is revolutionizing the field of career guidance with his fresh and trademarked approach that is spreading like wildfire. Sign up here to be notified of soon to be published book, Find Your Real Me: Career Guidance Making You Truly Free.