How’s Your Child’s Heart?

Source: ourprincessdana.com

There’s a little problem that occurs when we focus on our children’s obedience (or disobedience). We forget to check the status of their hearts. And if there’s anything we want to be careful of it’s that we not raise children who are outwardly obedient but inwardly defiant.

When you see your child obediently pick up his toys, does he do it happily? Does he obey your command because he’s knows it’s right? Or does he simply obey because he’ll face a consequence if he doesn’t?

Now, I think it’s important to realize that we can’t expect happy hearts all the time from toddlers and preschoolers. The Ezzos are frequently quoted as saying, “Actions precede beliefs.” For example, we need our kids to share with friends before they understand why they should do so. But if we have sufficiently taught our children the need for happy obedience, then we can expect that the correct attitude will accompany the obedience.

I expect William, age 8, to obey with a happy heart. He doesn’t have to love whatever chore I’ve given him, but he must do it correctly and without complaint. He’s at an age where I know that he knows why I expect him to clean up his toys. I know that I’ve sufficiently taught him. In fact, just yesterday, I reminded him, “We have to take care of our things. If we don’t take care of our things, then we aren’t responsible enough to have them.”

Ultimately, we need to check our kids’ hearts because our primary goal in parenting is shaping their moral compasses. If we allow them to get by with outward obedience but don’t require a good attitude, how will we know that they won’t adopt a similar attitude with teachers, bosses, and other authority figures?

We can teach a child how to sweep and do dishes, but if we neglect to teach them why it’s important to keep a clean house, what will he do when he’s living on his own? He may view chores simply as something his parents required but that he doesn’t see the need for.

This idea extrapolates to much more important moral considerations like lying, stealing, cheating, hard work, kindness, selfishness, etc. We want to not only teach them HOW to be good people, but WHY they should be good people.

So whether they’re two or twelve, we should expect a happy heart. If in the early years, after a timeout, you go through the motions of getting an apology and seeking forgiveness yet your child remains grumpy about it all, leave him there! If in the preteen years, you see a defiant heart, take stock and figure out where you may have forgotten to explain the importance of the action you’re requiring.

If at any point you see a blip in your child’s moral radar, go back to teaching the moral lessons behind everything you expect. Use every opportunity possible to mold their little hearts. And never stop at obedience.

Lucas Got a Medal!

Lucas with flag football medalLucas got a medal today for his great work in flag football today! Last week, I posted about the “every child gets a trophy” generation that our kids are apparently a part of. Both of my boys are playing flag football. At the beginning of the season, William’s coach told us that he has medals for every player on the team but that he’s decided to hold on to them until the last day of the season when he can hand out one to every child on the team. Lucas’s coach, on the other hand, is handing out medals to the best player (or two) from that day’s game.

Well, today, Lucas was one of two kids who got a medal. We are all so proud of him. We know he played hard and earned recognition from his coach. And the best part about receiving a medal this way is that it actually means something. When every kid gets a medal, it doesn’t mean a thing. And the kids know this. Lucas knew that his medal meant something, and he was so proud of himself.

After today’s events, I can now say I firmly believe that not every child should get a medal, at least not all at once. I like the way Lucas’s coach is handling the medals. Last week, I was a little unsure. In theory, I believe that kids should work for the appreciation they receive. But the mama bear in me is a little protective and wants to keep my kids’ feelings from being hurt if they don’t receive a medal. Last week was Lucas’s first game, and another kid got a medal. Lucas played really hard and ran really fast, but he didn’t get one. Did he care? Not in the least.

Did he care about getting it today? Absolutely! When he came home with it, he had a huge smile on his face. And I was able to give a heartfelt “good job!” and a high five. I was excited for him because I knew that it was special. He worked hard, and he earned the appreciation. He also knew it meant something. I asked the boys if they wanted to join me on a trip to the grocery store, and Lucas jumped up. He wanted to show off his medal. Luckily, we ran into a former neighbor who was impressed. He also got a few smiles from strangers in the store.

Honestly, though, if either child’s coach decided to hand out medals all at once at the end of the season, I’m glad it’s William’s coach. William is not the sportiest kid. Truth be told, he’s a little bored by the whole thing. He’d rather be reading a book or playing with Legos. He even told his coach today that he wanted to go home. Granted, it’s the hottest day of the year (81 is hot for us), but even so, sports just don’t interest him. Lucas, on the other hand, wants to be a professional football player when he grows up. He’s a super sporty kid and is really competitive.

So even though handing out medals to every kid at the end of the season could protect William’s self-esteem, I’m not sure he would care. If another kid walked off the field with a medal around his neck, I don’t think his ego would be bruised in any way. I think he knows it’s not his thing. If he really wanted to earn a medal, he would try hard. I think that’s what Lucas set out to do when he started playing today. And he was rewarded for his determination.

 

Taking Initiative

Source: family.go.com

I don’t know about you, but one of my biggest parenting endeavors is getting my children to take initiative. When our kids are motivated to please and when they’ve been taught what we expect, we can encourage them to take initiative. The biggest benefit in getting them to take initiative is that we don’t have to nag! But even more than that, working by internal motivation will serve them well through school and into adulthood.

I’ll admit that we aren’t there yet, at least not in all areas. But I will say that I’m seeing progress in school. On Wednesday, I talked about the reasons we homeschool. One of the reasons we left a private school was that it was too lax and William lost his internal drive to do well. In fact, his teacher noticed this drive and called him “industrious” early in the year. I attribute this industriousness to the rigid structure his Kindergarten teacher brought to the class. But by about mid-year in first grade, that industrious spirit was gone. I was very sad. No matter how little he may have learned that year, losing that internal drive was the most upsetting. However, I’m happy to report that I’ve gotten it back! William does his math and daily writing journal first thing in the morning, every single day, and he’s gotten so good at finding his own motivation to get it done.

Early last week, we took a day and a half off school to go to a water park. (Have I said how much I love homeschooling?!) Before we left, I told William I wanted him to finish his math and journal. As our friend was about to arrive to pick us up, I was running around to finish packing. Quickly, I looked into our school room and saw William writing furiously in his journal. He knew we were about to leave, and without me there even paying attention to him, he was working hard to get his work done. Not only did it fill me with pride, but it completely validated my reasons to homeschool.

But unfortunately, this internal motivation hasn’t carried over into every area. Until recently, I have had my boys do chores only when I needed their help. I didn’t have a very consistent approach. Well, we’ve started doing chores every weekend, and when they’re done, they get an allowance. Even with the money sitting on the table to entice them, my boys needed a little nagging to get their chores done. They’re still learning, though, so I completely understand why William was so frustrated that he couldn’t sweep. The only thing I can do to improve the situation is to keep prompting and encouraging and do the same thing consistently, week after week.

Take a look at this excerpt from Growing Kids God’s Way. It’s not only educational, but motivating:

“The highest and most desirable level of initiative is self-generated initiative. At this level, a child responds to needs without prompting or instruction. When Nathan saw the laundry basket filled with clean clothes, he began to separate his personal items, fold them, and put them away so Mom and Dad did not have to do it later. For a younger child, it may be as simple as putting away a toy left out after playtime. When a child responds without being asked, parents should give plenty of verbal and physical affirmation. In addition to affirming the child, parents may choose to reinforce the behavior with a reward. It doesn’t need to be expensive. What the child finds value in is the appreciation that the reward represents,” (Growing Kids God’s Way, p. 128).

So as you give this idea more thought, think about the various chores you can assign to your child. Keep them age-appropriate, and make sure you are patient as he learns to do them. And always, throughout the day, be on the lookout for any time the child takes initiative. “Catch him in the act” and give huge praise!

Has Your Child Earned All Freedoms?

Source: www.noisycoworkers.com

The idea that our kids need to earn their freedoms is so crucial to the Babywise way of raising our kids. We cannot give our kids certain freedoms without making sure they can handle those freedoms.

How do we determine whether we should allow a certain freedom? Many parents award freedoms based on the child’s age. We think, He’s 5 now. He’s old enough to cross the street without holding my hand. Or she’s 7 now. She should be old enough to take care of a pet. But do we stop to actually think about the child’s level of responsibility? Is the 5-year-old responsible enough to stop and look both ways before crossing the street every single time? Is the 7-year-old responsible enough to fill a pet’s food and water bowls and do it every day without reminders?

When we decide whether our kids have earned certain freedoms, we should determine whether they are responsible enough, not old enough. You might even find that your younger child is more responsible in certain areas than your older child. It’s perfectly normal.

Before I get into certain types of freedoms we should evaluate, let me take a minute to explain why this is so important. Essentially, our kids need to learn how to make decisions. And to learn anything, we need to take baby steps. To open the world up to a child and allow him to choose everything from what shirt he wears to whether he’ll do his homework is just too much for a young child. This is how the Ezzos put it:

“[There is] a legitimate concern that warns against creating the false impression in the mind of a child that she is able to do anything, say anything, and go anywhere without parental guidance or approval. Simply put, this is a child who has been granted too many freedoms of self-governance too early, and this is how children become ‘wise in their own eyes.’ It is our firm conviction, based on our observations, that more conflicts arise out of this ‘wise in your own eyes’ attitude than any other single factor in parenting,'” (Growing Kids God’s Way, p. 180).

Pretty powerful stuff, huh? Let’s take a minute to look at a few areas of freedoms that we might be tempted to award our children without ensuring responsibility:

Physical Boundaries

I’ve been a long-time proponent of the idea that our kids should not be allowed to roam the house, no matter how old they are. When we allow our kids to roam the house, they get the idea that every room in the house and everything in it is there for the taking. Before we implemented this rule, William would root through my bathroom drawers, wander upstairs by himself, and even go into the backyard without asking permission. Now, my kids know they are to ask permission to go anywhere but the main downstairs area.

Now at age 8, William has earned the freedom to go upstairs without me, but he still tells me or checks in before he does. I’ll allow him to take a shower (upstairs) by himself. But I have to make sure Lucas doesn’t go with him. Lucas has not earned the freedom to be upstairs by himself or without a parent. If he’s up there with William, they often wreak havoc.

Time

As odd as this may sound, our kids need to earn the freedom to choose what to do with their time. Before they learn the value of managing time, our kids will certainly choose to play all day and not do a single chore or bit of homework. I’ll be the first to tell you that our kids certainly need time to play. It is through play that our kids learn. It is through the imagination (which flourishes in play) that our kids learn to be creative and think critically. But we need to manage our kids’ time for them so they learn the value of time management. They need to learn that it’s usually far better to get your work done first and then play.

Plus, if you’ve been a Babywise parent, you’ve learned that directing our kids’ lives is so beneficial to their development. Keeping them on a schedule and directing their time tells our kids that they don’t get to choose to do whatever they want whenever they want. They learn that they are held accountable to the parents’ expectations.

Play

Yes, our kids need to earn freedoms when it comes to play. There are many aspects of my kids’ playtime that I direct:

1) Sibling playtime

2) Independent playtime

3) Play with friends and neighbors

4) Outdoor play

5) Exercise through play

6) Video game play

My kids are allowed free play, but I will tell them when it’s time to play outside, when it’s time to ride their bikes, and when it’s time to play with friends. And they must earn freedoms and show responsibility even when it comes to play. During free play, they are not allowed to trash the playroom. I don’t limit the amount of toys they can have out at once. But they have earned this freedom simply because they know they need to put toys away as they go.

Sibling playtime is also a freedom they need to continually prove responsibility for. If they say nasty things to each other or don’t share, they lose the freedom to play with each other. And for my boys, this is one of the most severe punishments I can give. My boys love each other so much and hate playing alone.

Playtime with friends is also a freedom my boys need to earn. There are always kids out playing on our street (when the weather isn’t too bad). And many of them will come to the door to invite my kids out. I allow my kids to go when the neighbors are out, but I watch their play closely. If one of my boys speaks rudely to another child, I’ll give a warning. If it happens again, I make the child play by himself or go in the house. Playing with friends is a skill they need to learn, and I’m not going to just let them figure it out on their own.

And as you might guess, I limit video game play quite a bit. It’s only allowed on the weekends, and my boys need to have cleaned up their toys before they are allowed to play. If the video games cause anger or violence in the child, I turn it off. They need to learn how to play video games and not let it negatively affect their disposition.

These are probably the top three areas where we find we need to limit our kids’ freedoms. Think through each one to determine whether your child has any freedoms he needs to earn. If you have given a freedom that the child hasn’t earned, don’t be afraid to take it away. Our kids go through phases where they are responsible for a certain freedom and then they stop being so responsible. Freedoms come and go with the child’s level of responsibility.

Should Every Child Get a Trophy?

Source: leighsportsvillage.co.uk

After learning from the best (the Babywise series), I’ve always been of the assumption that not every child should get a trophy. But after living with this first-hand, I’ve started to question my assumption.

I’m sure we’ve all seen or heard of it. Today’s sporting events just aren’t like they used to be. When kids are involved, either the games aren’t scored or every child is given a trophy, no matter how well they do. Yet for as long as I can remember, I’ve held the belief that this idea of every child getting a trophy isn’t good for our kids. When our kids put in great effort and work hard, they should be rewarded. I don’t believe a child should be rewarded for putting in minimal effort or for just showing up. This is how our world seems to be operating these days. It seems as if everyone is afraid to tarnish our children’s fragile egos.

I also believe that by giving every child a trophy, it completely robs the trophy of any value. It makes the trophy practically worthless. Plus, it’s possible that kids will lose all motivation to do well. Kids are smart. If they realize that the kid sitting on the sidelines will earn the same recognition as the child who works hard, then what good is it to work hard?

Now, if we are doing our job as parents, we should teach our kids that the reward is in doing a good job. In the case of sports, when you take one for the team and run harder than anybody else, your efforts will get noticed. But what about these trophies?

Let me back up a minute and explain why I bring this up. My kids have started flag football this season, and with William being more cerebral than athletic, this is our first real foray into kids’ sports. Well, today was the big kickoff event for the season. After William’s coach explained the rules of the game, he mentioned to us all that we might see other coaches handing out medals but that he wouldn’t be. The organization encourages coaches to hand out one medal after every game, which I assume would go to the kid who played his hardest. Well, our coach has decided to do it differently. Rather than handing them out after every game, he said he would hold onto them, and at the end of the season, we would have a celebration where every child would receive a medal.

After watching the kids practice and play, there’s a part of me that can see why he does this. There are some kids (like the coaches’ kids) who are clearly more experienced and talented than the rest of them. William, who was doing math problems in his head on the way there, would be outrun by one or two of those kids any day of the week. But my issue with trophies and medals has nothing to do with experience or talent. It has to do with effort.

If a child shows great determination and comes running onto the field and scores five touchdowns, then perhaps his effort should be rewarded. If a child shows great improvement in an area where he has struggled previously, then he should probably receive a medal. And I like the idea of kids getting recognized for their effort on the day of the game, and when nobody else is being recognized. Being rewarded by a coach (someone other than mom or dad) like this, on a day when only he is being recognized, would certainly bring a smile to William’s face. I’m not sure his smile would be as big when he receives the medal at the same time as all the other kids.

But then again, the mama bear in me does want to protect William’s self esteem. What if he’s staring off into space doing math problems in his head while the receiver runs right by him? What if he’s just not as capable as the other kids? What if his sensory issues get in the way of his ability to play?

What do you think? Should every child get a trophy?

Entitlement: Self-Sacrifice

In January, I wrote a post called “Entitlement.” It seems to have struck a nerve for some of you. The blog was pretty active that day. I can see why. Entitlement is one of those ugly characteristics that we want to avoid instilling in our children. At the same time, it’s difficult to avoid, as evidenced by an entire generation that has been labeled as entitled.

Today, we’ll discuss all that we as mothers sacrifice and how it may lead to entitlement in our children.

They say that motherhood is the ultimate in self-sacrifice. In pregnancy, we give our bodies. In the newborn phase, we give up sleep and pretty much all semblance of free time. In the toddler phase, we give up the freedom to sit and relax (as we chase them around the house), not to mention the freedom to use the bathroom alone. In the preschool phase, we don’t have to give as much physically, but then the reality sets in that we need to start preparing our kids for school. As they grow older, we give less, but we still sacrifice adult time, date nights (that don’t cost an arm and a leg in babysitter fees), and everything else that won’t see the light of day until our kids can stay home by themselves. Plus, we’re still responsible for our kids’ physical and moral development.

There’s a funny thing about self-sacrificing mothers. There are many moms who say that their children give their lives a purpose. They feel needed and they like it. These are the moms who will sacrifice everything for their children, and many of them are self-righteous about it. They give the impression that working moms or moms who have activities outside the home are not fulfilling their duties as moms. Many of them go so far as to criticize those of us who sleep train or have our children sleep in their own beds.

Despite how self-righteous they may be about it, it’s usually these self-sacrificing mothers who end up with entitled children. These kids have been given the world for their entire lives. Then they get to a certain age and start to expect that they’ll be given the world. They act entitled. Why wouldn’t they? It’s what they’ve been taught to do. Interesting how that works, isn’t it?

Realizing that this is the case, it’s important to stop every now and then and examine how our parenting methods may be creating entitled children. In what ways do we sacrifice as mothers? What areas of sacrifice can we give up? Where can we depend on our kids more? What more can we require of them as they grow up? What do we give them that they feel entitled to?

Here are some ideas to think about:

1) Insist that your crawling baby or toddler wait outside the bathroom for you. It’s okay if he fusses for a few minutes.

2) Don’t pick up your baby or toddler every time she cries. Shush her until she stops whining or crying, and only then pick her up.

3) Set aside time for your spouse every night (couch time) and insist that your child not interrupt you.

4) Find a time in the day where your child is awake but you have some alone time. Teach your child that when he sees you reading the paper and drinking coffee, he is to leave mommy alone.

5) Make sure your kids earn every privilege.

6) Track the time your kids spend on devices (computer, iPad, video games, TV), and make it clear that it’s a privilege, not a right.

7) Require chores, no matter how much homework or piano practice she has. Even from an early age, kids can start helping out around the house.

8) If your child starts acting entitled to a certain privilege, take it away. Only give it back when he seems grateful for the privilege.

Keep an eye on all that you sacrifice for your kids. Make sure that you sacrifice less and less as the child grows. Have him do more for himself as he ages and make sure he knows you don’t live your life catering to his every whim.

Help a Reader Out: Teaching Independence

Thanks for all the help this week! Here’s one more to finish off the week. This is from my post It’s Easier to Do It for Them. Please reply with your thoughts and any resources you can recommend for this parent.

What do you advise for parents who have done everything (and I mean everything) to avoid conflict, and now they have teenagers who simply refuse to pick up after themselves, wake themselves in the morning, do their homework, wash a dish, etc…they throw anything they’re done with on the floor and walk away. They don’t know how to make a bed or run a load of laundry, and see no need to ever learn. They don’t want to go to college because that looks like work. They want to stay home and play video games and be waited on. Now what. IS IT TOO LATE. What have we done.

I do think it’s important to work on these things when our kids are young, for this very reason, but I don’t think it’s too late. I don’t have a teenager, so take my advice with a grain of salt. Maybe those of you with teenagers will have better advice. But my initial thoughts are that it’s not too late because the teen is still living under your roof. It’s hard not to have sympathy for the teen since he’s simply living up to his parents’ expectations. But it sounds like things need to change.

The problem started because it’s easier to wait on our children than it is to require them to do for themselves. So I’m thinking the answer is to stop taking the easy approach. Stop making life so easy for him.

First, if I were this mom, I would sit down with my husband and make sure he agrees that things need to change. Then we would work together on a plan. Define all the individual tasks you want him to learn and own, and prioritize them so you can work on one at a time. Then sit down with the teen and explain the new rules and the consequences associated with those rules. Perhaps it would be appropriate to involve him in the process so he feels like he’s a part of the solution. I would also give it some time to see if he finds the motivation himself. Assume that he wants to change. If not, then start thinking about logical consequences.

Personally, I would start with video games. I don’t know of any motivated, successful person who spends any significant amount of time on video games. Plus, they can cause so many problems. It’s easy to lose all self-control while playing, which could easily get in the way of school, sleep, exercise, healthy eating, etc. I would simply take the video games away. Be prepared for the child’s wrath because video games are addictive, and it will take some time to be okay without them.

Then think through any other privileges the child has. If he’s of driving age, does he have a car? Do you allow him to use your car? Does he have free access to a computer. (I would allow it for homework only, and only in the main area of the house.)

Don’t simply take these privileges away. Tell him that he can earn them back by showing he’s responsible enough to have them. He can show responsibility by picking up after himself, doing his laundry, helping out around the house, etc. I’m guessing it will take some time for him to come around, which I think is fine. He will decide whether he wants these privileges back.

In the meantime, make sure not to do much for him. If you don’t want his messes in your space, I would toss his stuff into his room. Stop waking him up. Stop urging him to do his homework. (Maybe communicate with teachers so they know what to expect and so you know what their consequences will be.) Stop doing his laundry. My guess is he’ll eventually decide that he’s tired of wearing dirty clothes.

Now, the problem with this approach is that it could alienate the teen and really drive a wedge in the parent/child relationship. I imagine that the teen would be very upset with these new rules. And since the parents are driving the change, he will aim his anger at them. Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer to this. It’s possible that my “tough love” approach wouldn’t work because of this. Or perhaps it would work, but it wouldn’t be worth the loss of the relationship.

Does anybody have experience with this? What’s the answer?!

 

Logical Consequence Grab Bag: Say Please!

Source: ladcblog.org

In our everyday parenting, it can sometimes be difficult to come up with the perfect logical consequence. We always want to strike the balance between teaching a lesson without being too harsh. Having our children say “please” and “thank you” is so important, yet it can be so difficult to ensure they do it consistently.

What can we do to encourage our kids to say “please” and “thank you”? First, be sure to explain the importance of being polite. Explain that we are not put on this Earth to serve their every desire. And expressing thanks is the first step toward instilling a heart of gratitude in our kids.

When our kids forget, there’s a great way to handle it. If your child is asking something from you, never give it to him unless he says “please.” This can be anything from a meal that you are expected to provide no matter what or a special treat. If he asks without saying “please” tell him no, and that he can come back to you in 5 or 10 minutes when he’s ready to ask appropriately. He’ll probably ask again right away. Simply walk away knowing you have told him what you require.

With an older child, you might leave it at that. Make note of the time on the clock and don’t allow the child to come back until 5 or 10 minutes have passed. For a younger child, set a timer. Set it for a solid 5 or 10 minutes so he gets a true sense for how long that is.

This is much more powerful than simply reminding our kids and having them ask again right away. As with all consequences, the “pain” of the consequence must equal the weight of the infraction. If the child says “please” and “thank you” 90% of the time and forgets once or twice, a verbal reminder with no wait might be sufficient. If it’s a consistent problem, a longer wait might be more effective. Always gauge the effectiveness of the consequence by the child’s behavior. If it works, great. If not, try again with a more “painful” consequence.

How To Praise Smart Kids

Source: uci.edu

On Monday, I discussed the idea that parenting influences a child’s brain development and that potentially, Babywise parents have an easier time at this because we naturally tend toward establishing structure, self-control, and sleep. But just because we set our kids up for success doesn’t mean life will be smooth sailing. In fact, parents of smarter kids often have a more difficult go at parenting.

But if there’s one thing you need to learn when parenting a smart child, it’s how to offer praise. Praise is important. It encourages our children. It motivates them. It builds their self-esteem. But there’s a right way to praise and a wrong way to praise.

It comes down to this: don’t praise a child for qualities that are beyond his control. Even when you’re amazed by your child’s memory or his early abilities in math or reading, bite your tongue whenever you’re tempted to say, “You’re so smart,” or “You have an amazing memory.”

For praise to hold any weight, it must speak to the child’s effort. Better than praising characteristics, praise his actions. It should sound like this:

• You worked so hard on that puzzle.
• I like how you persevered on that task. Sticking with something when it gets hard is so important.
• I see you chose a more difficult book to read. Nice!
• Your homework tonight was tough. I like that you never got discouraged.
The reason this type of praise is important for smart kids in particular is that life typically comes easy for these kids. They can very easily skate through life. They often don’t have to try hard or learn the meaning of the word perseverance. It’s nice that life will be easy for them, but no child (or adult) will get very far if they never learn the value of hard work.
This idea has been studied and tested. In 2007, Po Bronson wrote an article in New York Magazine about how not to talk to our kids. The article’s subtitle is “the inverse power of praise.” In the article, he discusses the importance of praising a child’s hard work over his innate intelligence:

For the past ten years, psychologist Carol Dweck and her team at Columbia (she’s now at Stanford) studied the effect of praise on students in a dozen New York schools. Her seminal work—a series of experiments on 400 fifth-graders—paints the picture most clearly.

Dweck sent four female research assistants into New York fifth-grade classrooms. The researchers would take a single child out of the classroom for a nonverbal IQ test consisting of a series of puzzles—puzzles easy enough that all the children would do fairly well. Once the child finished the test, the researchers told each student his score, then gave him a single line of praise. Randomly divided into groups, some were praised for their intelligence. They were told, “You must be smart at this.” Other students were praised for their effort: “You must have worked really hard.”

Why just a single line of praise? “We wanted to see how sensitive children were,” Dweck explained. “We had a hunch that one line might be enough to see an effect.”

Then the students were given a choice of test for the second round. One choice was a test that would be more difficult than the first, but the researchers told the kids that they’d learn a lot from attempting the puzzles. The other choice, Dweck’s team explained, was an easy test, just like the first. Of those praised for their effort, 90 percent chose the harder set of puzzles. Of those praised for their intelligence, a majority chose the easy test. The “smart” kids took the cop-out.

So you can see how praise plays a pivotal role in a child’s determination to succeed. No matter how smart, a child can still fail in school if he refuses to do his homework or push himself with the work gets tough. The ability to persevere and work diligently is very possibly more important than innate intelligence.

Are Babywise Kids Smarter?

Source: whizbit.com

It’s been a long-held belief that IQ is a static thing. A person tests at a certain IQ level and maintains that level for the rest of their lives. Many say IQ is genetic, and there’s not much we can do to influence it.

I’ve been reading a bit about brain training lately, and I’m convinced that IQ is not a static measure of intelligence. Our brains are living, breathing organs that grow over time. Our brains have the ability to adapt and reorganize neural pathways and even build brand new ones. These neural pathways form the basis of our cognitive skills. And our cognitive abilities, quantified by IQ tests, measure our ability to not only hold knowledge, but also to process information. So because the brain is always adapting and building, our cognitive skills, and our IQ, never stay the same. The brain’s ability to adapt and grow is called neuroplasticity. When our brains are characterized by plasticity, they are by definition malleable, elastic, flexible, and pliable.

I can personally attest to this idea of neuroplasticity. In college, I could almost feel my brain growing. I learned so much in such a short period of time. I was surrounded by people who were educating themselves and professors who were experts in their fields. I was challenged intellectually like never before (or since). And not only was I taking in and storing information, I was learning the skills to study and process information.

So if our brains are so malleable, it seems entirely possible that parenting plays a huge role in the development of a child’s brain. And if that’s the case, is it possible that Babywise kids are smarter?

Babywise Moms are Typically Type A

We Babywise moms are typically type A personalities. We like things to be in their place, and we think nothing of making the effort to actively teach our children. From what I see on message boards and in my “real life” Babywise friends, we actively engage with our children, read to them religiously, think critically about what we should be reading to them, engage their imaginations, teach them basic academics before they enter school, and supplement school if we see that it’s lacking. I know of no Babywise mom who thinks it’s okay to plop her child in front of the TV and think nothing of the child’s cognitive development.

We Teach Self-Control

Another reason I think Babywise kids might be smarter is that they’ve been taught self-control. If I had to choose between teaching my child early reading skills or teaching self-control before Kindergarten, self-control would be it. If a child has no self-control, he’s not going to be able to sit and learn. His mind and body will be so busy doing other things, things guided by his impulsive brain, that his learning ability will be diminished. So much of early learning is about form and structure. Teaching a child to work diligently is immensely valuable. The habits of learning form the foundation of all future learning. And since Babywise kids are raised on a routine and are taught the benefits of structure, they are much more likely to work diligently than the child who is left to his own devices.

Babywise Kids Get Lots of Sleep

Does anyone disagree that sleep affects the brain’s ability to process information? We all know how we feel when we haven’t had enough sleep. Unless we’re loaded up on coffee, we’re in a fog all day. This very idea is addressed in Growing Kids God’s Way:

“Children who have established healthy sleep habits are optimally awake and optimally alert to interact with their environment. Having observed a generation of these children now, we see some common threads among the school-age population. In classroom settings, I have consistently found these children to be more self-assured, happier, less demanding, more sociable, inspired, and motivated. They have longer attention spans and become faster learners because they are more adaptable. Mediocrity among this population is rare, while excellence is common,” (Growing Kids God’s Way, p. 253).

I love that the Ezzos describe these children as happier and more social. It’s not all about academics, folks. I don’t think the Ezzos would encourage us to give our kids 5 hours of homework every night for the sake of getting ahead. No amount of academic advancement is worth the risk of creating undue stress. In fact, when we push our kids too far too fast, we run the risk of burning them out. A child who’s burned out at age 10 may be academically ahead, but will it serve them well in the future? Will they even want to go to college? This says nothing of the effects on a child’s character when he believes he’s smarter than all of his peers.

It’s all about balance and priorities. And I think the Ezzos have it right in teaching Babywise moms to give our kids the skills and foundation to effectively learn. But they also place a huge priority on developing our kids’ moral foundation. In fact, they may even say that this moral foundation is more important than any skills that enable them to learn. But the two aren’t mutually exclusive.

If you are a Babywise mom, you can walk away from this post knowing that you’re giving your child the skills he needs to succeed in school. And not only can you trust that you’ve prepared him for school, but you can also trust that you’ve instilled important values that will serve him well in school and beyond.