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How To Raise Smart Kids: Unmissable Secrets Of Parenting

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How To Raise Smart Kids: Unmissable Secrets Of Parenting

We all want our children to do well – to become something great and lead happy and healthy lives. Intelligence in a child has its advantages but having a truly smart kid isn’t all about getting good grades at school.

It’s becoming more and more clear that intelligence is no longer black and white. Using IQ tests to find out how intelligent someone is has been long thought of as a measure to how smart someone is academically and a score of over 100 is worn with a sense of pride. But many studies are fast showing that cognitive and emotional intelligence are just as varied and important – a brain surgeon and an artist can therefore ideally be looked at as being on the same level.

The way parents interact with their child has a huge influence on how a child develops and how smart they become. Allowing your children to be “life smart” and preparing them for their path into the independent world is one of the greatest achievements you can make as a parent.

The overall key as a parent is to focus on the process rather than the intelligence and talent that a child possesses. In other words, it’s all about the journey and sense of achievement that needs to be cultivated rather than praise once a child has completed something. This encourages a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset and will help your child understand the importance of the effort they’ve put in rather than the end goal. Psychiatrist Joe Brewster, believes that a child should be encouraged to see learning as the process of becoming better at something, instead of having a fixed mindset of his intelligence.

With that in mind, here are just a handful of ways to encourage your child to be more aware and, in turn, help you to raise smart kids.

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1. How You Respond To Your Child

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    The way in which you respond to your child through various situations largely determines how they assess their range of experiences. For example, if you react in an indifferent or restrictive way, this could discourage your child from wanting to try new things and cause them to learn to be too cautious and therefore limiting their personal experiences. Instead, encourage your child by asking open-ended questions creating, a space for them to think about actions and awareness of those around them. If they are misbehaving, then try to change their perspectives on the situation by getting them to think about how their actions have affected you and others involved.

    Smart kids are those that get the chance to see another point of view and develop their sense of awareness.

    2. Raise Smart Kids By Limiting The Amount Of Rules

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      Think about the rules you put into place and whether any of them are really necessary. Research has found that the number of family rules affects kids’ creativity and those families that have, on average, six family rules have children of average performance at school.

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      Further studies have found that the most creative architects in the U.S. were encouraged by their parents to develop their own moral rules without any restrictive family rules being enforced. The idea is that a child can develop a sense of right and wrong from sources other than their parents. This allows them to develop more creative personalities and intelligence. The author of the study defines creativity as the following:

      Personality characteristics of creative individuals includes broad intelligence, openness to experience, aesthetic sensitivity, autonomy in thought and action and the pursuit of new challenges and solutions, curious, self-assertive, high achiever, self-critical , self-sufficient, intuitive and empathic, emotional sensitivity, imagination, ambition and dominance, self-acceptance, dominance, self-confidence, acceptance of unusual views as their personality characteristics.

      Enforcing too many rules curbs a child’s sense of creativity and overall development of intelligence. Making sure there are less rules gives your child more time to engage in open-end, free-flowing activities and stops them from being micromanaged and constantly corrected. Of course, children do need important rules but limiting the amount will benefit their long-term intellectual growth.

      3. Allow Your Kids To Be Bored

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        Boredom is usually seen as a negative thing, after all, surely you should be stimulating your child’s sense of creativity at every opportunity for them to be creative? Well, boredom isn’t all that bad – it actually helps a child encourage their ability to think. Quiet reflection is something that adds to a different perspective and gives the mind space to think up and create activities. Don’t always feel like you have to find them something to do in case you’re not doing enough to accommodate their learning. Boredom, in and of itself, is a time for their brains to develop and become more creative.

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        4. Let Your Kids See You Doing Smart Stuff

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          Kids pick up on all sorts of things, especially your own actions. Learning from adult behaviour is one of the major ways a child picks up habits and makes sense of the world. If your child sees you engaged in reading, writing, or anything creative, it will cause them to imitate you and become smarter in the process.

          It’s also important to let your children hear you talk about achievements from hard work. As I mentioned earlier focusing on intelligent achievements, both theirs and your own, will give a clear signal that will create a fixed mindset and a fixed mindset can lead to a fragile and defensive child in the long-run. Instead, when you speak, emphasise praise for hard work and focus rather than too much on the end result.

          5. Encourage Your Kids To Take Risks And Fail

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            Although we have a natural tendency to protect our children from feeling upset, allowing your child to take risks and failing will teach them fundamental life skills from an early age. Without experiencing failure early on, a child can develop low self-esteem and get discouraged from creating and learning for themselves. Fear is probably the number one emotion in our lives that can stop us from taking great actions. If we encourage our children to experience failure when they are small, the amount of fear they develop will lessen.

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            Teaching a child that failure is not actually a bad thing is a great life-skill that will allow them to make smart decisions and learn from life’s ups and downs. At the end of the day, children need to feel emotions to understand them and protecting your child from them will only stunt their ability to adapt and make sense of the world.

            6. Make Reading And Music A Part Of Your Child’s Life

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              Reading may be an obvious one to excel your child’s intelligence but not only does it help them to read but it also develops your child’s appetite for knowledge. It allows their brain to process situations, creating further perspective and sparks imagination that can benefit all areas of their life. Their thirst for knowledge will develop rapidly if exposed to different topics and ideas and again making connections to the world around them.

              Music can pose so many amazing effects on a child’s brain. Many studies have shown that getting a child to listen to music not only boosts attention, motivation, learning and memory skills but also lowers stress. Stress can have a detrimental effect on how the young brain operates – not something you want at such a crucial time in development. Learning a musical instrument is also great as it targets the brain’s proportional thinking and spatial temporal reasoning so raise smart kids the creative way and pave for well-rounded, life-smart children.

              Featured photo credit: Pezibear via pixabay.com

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              Jenny Marchal

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              Last Updated on October 7, 2021

              Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important (And How To Do So)

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              Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important (And How To Do So)

              In today’s chaotic world, having family time isn’t always easy. It can get pretty hard to coordinate schedules, especially if the family is large. Life demands that we work, attend school, nurture friendships, hobbies, etc. All of those things are extremely time-consuming and important—but so is spending time with your family.

              Why is family time so important? Because we all need love and support, and a good, strong family can provide that regularly. For children, spending time with their family helps shape them into good, responsible adults, improve their mental health, and develop strong core values.

              There are many positive effects of spending time with your family. My family and I, for instance (and this includes grandchildren as well), meet every Tuesday night for dinner and games. My older son and I take turns cooking. This gives all of us a chance to try some new recipes. After dinner, we play games. And without fail, they inspire competitiveness and laughter. As family night has evolved, the grandkids have invited their friends over as well, creating the need for more chairs but also expanding our circle of fun.

              Aside from the obvious fun and games, there are other reasons why spending time with your family is paramount. In this article, I will provide you with multiple reasons why spending time with your family regularly is a win-win. And then, I will lay out some ways on how to do it.

              Let’s get started, shall we?

              Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important

              Here are six reasons why it’s important to spend time with your family.

              1. Provides the Opportunity to Bond

              When you spend time together as a family—talking about your day, your highs, your lows—it fosters communication. As parents, it gives you the chance to listen to your children, to hear them out, to learn about what’s going on in their world. It also provides you with the opportunity to use life situations as teaching moments.

              Before our Tuesday night dinner/game nights, my family used to see each other pretty regularly but not consistently, especially the grandkids. Our family night changed all that. Now, it’s guaranteed that the grandchildren, along with some of their friends, will be there. Not only do I get to find out what’s been happening in their lives, but they also get to know us better. It’s creating memories they can treasure forever, as well as modeling the Get-Together tradition for when they eventually have families of their own.

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              “Spending time partaking in everyday family leisure activities has been associated with greater emotional bonding within families.”[1]

              2. Teaches the Value of Family

              Taking the time to be with your family lets your children know they are valued—that spending time together is a priority. I know that in today’s world, both parents are busy as both usually working. What better way to let your children know they are loved than by carving out time each week to spend with them?

              According to Marilyn Price-Mitchell, Ph.D., “words like honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage are core to centuries of religious, philosophical, and family beliefs. Use them and others to express and reinforce your family values. Teach children the behaviors that flow from these principles. Use quotes to ignite meaningful dinner conversations and encourage kids to talk about these values.”[2]

              3. Enhances Mental Well-Being

              Spending that quality time together gives your children a safe platform in which to express themselves, ask questions about things that are bothering them, or talk about their day and things they’ve learned. I know that my 9-year old granddaughter can’t wait until it’s her turn to talk about her day. She usually goes on and on and has to be stopped to give everyone else a chance to talk about their goings-on.

              “Research shows the quality of family relationships is more important than their size or composition. Whoever the family is made up of, they can build strong, positive relationships that promote wellbeing and support children and young people’s mental health.”[3]

              For children, having the opportunity to seek advice from parents they trust—as well as being able to have a sounding board and help with problem-solving—is priceless. In addition, being able to voice their opinions and be heard—and to feel like what they have to say matters—is an esteem-builder. All of these can have a very impactful positive effect on their well-being.

              4. Helps the Child Feel Loved

              How do you think a child feels knowing their parents want to spend time with them—talking, sharing experiences, playing games, listening to them? It will make them feel as though they are important, and a child that feels important is happier and more apt to thrive. Setting aside chores or work to spend time with your children demonstrates that they’re essential—that they matter. What a gift to give your child!

              “If a child has your undivided attention, it signals that they are loved and important to you. This can be further nurtured by experiencing joyful activities together, as it demonstrates that you want to spend time with your children over and above all of the daily demands.”[4]

              5. Creates a Safe Environment

              If you regularly spend time with your children, you are also creating an atmosphere of trust. The more trust they have, the more likely they are to share with you what’s going on in their world. As they get older, you’re going to want to know. Negative influences can show up at any time, but if you’ve always been there for your child, they are more apt to come to you and ask for your advice.

              Spending time together generates familiarity and feelings of being supported. When a child feels safe and comfortable, they’re more likely to open up. This is one way to get to know your child and know what’s on their minds. Are they okay? Do they need your guidance? If so, how?

              6. Reduces Stress

              This is significant. We all suffer from stress at one point or another in our lives. Spending time with family helps alleviate that stress. It’s an opportunity to talk things out, get feedback, and maybe brainstorm for a solution to the problem that is causing the stress.

              According to Brandy Drzymkowski, “During the holidays, your closest five people probably shifts to family and friends. You may even get to see loved ones who live far away. Good news! This can actually help lower your stress levels. Studies show ‘face-to-face interaction…counteracts the body’s defensive ‘fight-or-flight’ response.’ In other words, quality time spent with loved ones is nature’s stress reliever.”[5]

              So, now that you know some of the benefits, what are some ideas for making family time happen?

              How to Make Family Time Happen

              Here are four things you can do to make family time happen and spend more time with them.

              1. Family Dinners

              This, as I said above, is a wonderful way to spend time together. While you’re having dinner, you have the chance to discuss things that are going on in your lives—the ups, the downs, and everywhere in between. It’s like having a buffer against life’s challenges.

              Aside from that, eating dinner together has many additional benefits. Studies have shown that for kids who eat regularly with their families, there is less risk of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, and depression.[6]

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              “Our belief in the ‘magic’ of family dinners is grounded in research on the physical, mental and emotional benefits of regular family meals.” It further states, “We recommend combining food, fun and conversation at mealtimes because those three ingredients are the recipe for a warm, positive family dinner—the type of environment that makes these scientifically proven benefits possible.”[7]

              According to Parenting NI, “children and adolescents who spend more time with their parents are less likely to get involved in risky behavior. According to studies done by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse via Arizona State University, teens who have infrequent family dinners are twice as likely to use tobacco, nearly twice as likely to use alcohol and one and a half times more likely to use marijuana.”[8]

              As you can see, there are multiple benefits to spending time with each other routinely. You can’t go wrong with this family activity.

              2.  Regular Movie Nights

              This is another fun event, although, from personal experience, I have to caution that choosing a movie that everyone wants to see is not easy. So, give yourselves plenty of time so you don’t spend two hours searching for a movie, and then end up watching no movie at all because the night is practically over. Try and choose a movie before the day, if possible.

              Afterward, open it up for discussion. Ask questions pertinent to the movie. What do you think of ABC? Should they have done that? Would you have done something differently? There are so many questions you can ask to spark a conversation and keep the night going.

              3. Game Night

              This is another occasion for great fun. If you have a competitive spirit, it makes it even more fun. There are numerous games out there—Balderdash, Pictionary, Apples to Apples, Charades, to name a few—that can create fun havoc. All I can say is, on game nights, don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s okay if you lose the game. The fun is in being together, laughing, debating, and having a good time.

              In addition, “Playing board games is great for children for many reasons besides the obvious; it’s fun to play games! Age appropriate games can help children to think strategically, solve problems creatively, work on pattern recognition and build simple math skills. They also help children develop social skills such as following rules, taking turns, and graceful winning or losing. Additionally, a family game night provides an opportunity for children to bond with siblings, parents and family members as well as peers. It can promote tradition building and establish a fun routine.”[9]

              So, go find your family a game and start having fun!

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              4. Sharing a Hobby

              If you and one of your kids like to do the same things, do it more often. For example, my oldest son and his teenage son go on long bike rides together on the weekends. Not only do they get to exercise, but they also get to talk and look at beautiful sceneries. They’ve also incorporated cooking into their routine. They plan the meal, shop, and prepare—activities that bring them closer together.

              Sharing a hobby is a great way to bring family members together. It bonds people in amazing ways. According to Alison Ratner Mayer, LICSW, “One of the easiest and most important ways to build a child’s self-esteem is to spend time with them doing something not only that they enjoy but something that you also enjoy. There is a special magic that happens between a parent and a child when they share a mutually beloved activity. It sends the message to the child that their parents are having fun, true, honest, real fun, with them.”[10]

              Final Thoughts

              Spending time with the family is an investment. It is an investment in the happiness, well-being, and security of that system. It can also serve as a way to break out of the daily rut and the constant worldly demands, while at the same time, building a strong family unit.

              Even though it isn’t always easy to find the time, finding the time is key to staying close and to providing and receiving love and support. There is no greater gift than the gift of time. That’s what we all seem to be missing nowadays. So, in giving that gift consistently, everyone feels loved and appreciated.

              The family that takes the time to interact regularly is typically happy. They know they are part of a tribe, and that’s essential in today’s chaotic world. To know that there are people whom you can count on—people who will have your back in times of need—is invaluable.

              Now, go and plan something plan with your family, if you haven’t already.

              Featured photo credit: Jimmy Dean via unsplash.com

              Reference

              [1] Pittsburgh Parent: Spending Time Together—Benefits of Family Time
              [2] Roots of Action: Integrity: How Families Teach and Live Their Values
              [3] Beyond Blue: Healthy Families
              [4] Esperance Anglican Community School: The importance of family time
              [5] Brandy Drzymkowski: Spending Time With Loved Ones Reduces Stress
              [6] Harvard Graduate School of Education: Harvard EdCast: The Benefit of Family Mealtime
              [7] The Family Dinner Project: BENEFITS OF FAMILY DINNERS
              [8] Parenting NI: The Importance of Spending Time Together
              [9] WNY Children: Family Game Night- The Benefits of Game Play
              [10] Child Therapy Boston: The Benefits of Sharing a Hobby With Your Child

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