The Problem with Labelling your Child as Smart

Every parent wants their child to do well in school, stay out of trouble, and be successful. But that’s easier said than done. The truth is there is no seamless path to guarantee success. 

Our very young children are naturally driven to learn and explore. They are beginning their lifelong pursuit of understanding and mastery of the world around them. It can be tempting for parents to promote intelligence as the most significant factor for success, but this can lead to arrogance, thinking that everyone else is stupid, or believing that they have to put on an act and are a fraud. This can cause people to not like your child or be bullied.

It would be very wrong to tell a child that they are intelligent and wonderful when, in fact, they are pretty useless in a few areas (here are some tips on how to praise your kids). You will not tell them that they actually suck at it, but you should encourage them to do their best. Promote their positive skills and teach them to accept that they cannot be very good at everything and have to suck at something.

Here are some tips on how you can raise intelligent, well-rounded kids:

  • Teach social skills. Teaching your kids how to resolve issues with friends, share their belongings, listen without interrupting, and help others in the home is a great place to start.
  • Don’t overprotect. Allowing kids to make mistakes and develop resilience and resourcefulness is critical in setting them up for success.
  • Get your kids involved in academics early, then encourage independence when they are older. Start by reading to your children and teaching them math early. Parents should always communicate interest in their children’s schooling but encourage them to independently take charge of their work. You can also help your child to create an effective routine when studying.
  • Don’t let them languish in front of a screen. Too much screen time has been linked to childhood obesity, irregular sleep patterns, and behavioral issues. (Here are some tips on how you can limit screen time). Another helpful idea: encourage your children to become content creators rather than passive consumers. Encourage them to turn screen time into a productive endeavor.
  • Don’t spend too much time praising innate qualities such as intelligence or looks. Parents are encouraged to offer praise that focuses on the effort kids expend to overcome problems and challenges by demonstrating grit, persistence, and determination.
  • Don’t tune out. As the first generation of parents with 24/7 access to the Internet, we need to know when to disconnect and focus on the family.
  • Don’t be too hard (or too soft). A child can model equally disciplined and loving parents over stringent and lenient parents.

But then again, it comes down to the fact that every child is unique, and they all have a special place in society. What parents can do is help their children to develop a coping mechanism that should start in childhood. Parents need to find out their children’s strengths, what lessons they prefer, and what sports they like best and actively encourage them to do well in those areas.