Smart Kids: The role of parenting in nurturing an all-rounder

how to raise smart kids

We often strive to build a road-map of ambitions for our children to guide them through each stepping stone and on to the pillars of success. The question now is, when should we start the countdown? Is it the first day of school that sets the beginning of this phase in each parent and child’s life?

Parenting entails a whirlwind of emotions along with meticulous planning and projection. Right from the joys of the double lines on the pregnancy test to your child’s first day of school, and so on. Each night along the way is a long journey of ensuring your child’s comfort in every way possible; right from the meal on the table, the clothes they wear, the books they read and the thoughts they think.

Taking these baby steps into nurturing a smart kid. (this is just the beginning)

1. Encourage baby talk

Soft cooing, comforting and encouraging baby talk conversations with your child will improve their self-esteem and give worth to the voice within them. As a result, making them confident individuals when it comes to communication as they develop the habit.

2. Display affection and playfulness

Research has shown that skin-to-skin contact calms a baby, maintains body temperature and regulates blood sugar along with encouraging steady breathing habits. Make sure to schedule daily time with your child to create a safe and secure environment for them to flourish in. Such sensitive care-giving has been proven to aid children in becoming successful adults.

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3. Provide the right toys at the right time

Not every toy is going to stimulate the inquisitiveness in your child, but the right toy will. For example, Lego – a multi-faceted, colourful and multi-dimensional approach will stimulate your child’s thinking by leaps and bounds. This will encourage your child to engage in creative thinking by creating stories and arouse curiosity. Sound books might be another alternative to engage your child in reading and listening skills which takes me to my next point.

4. Advocate the learning or familiarizing your child with pictures, sounds and words

With increasing familiarity and practice, your child will be able to identify and associate words with objects at an increasing pace. This will spark the network of ideas and associations in your child’s mind; as a result, they will be able to naturally identify and associate objects in the world around them and learn to think for themselves.

As we see children grow into younger versions of ourselves, soon before we know it, they have internalized our habits. Hence, it’s best to lead a life by thinking through each of our actions and the repercussions they might have on the development of the child’s mind as they face the challenges of succeeding in the world around them. Afterall, children learn through experience.

“Don’t worry that your children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.” – Robert Fulghum.

The following is a list of the best practices taken up by parents of high achievers:

  1. Set high realistic expectations

According to BusinessInsider, “kids often live up to their parents expectations” and this is backed by psychological findings – “the Pygmalion effect, which states that ‘what one person expects of another can come to serve as a self-fulfilling prophecy'”. An American national survey done of 6,600 children born in 2001, by the University of California, found that 96% of the high performers were expected to go to college by their parents whereas only 57% of the worst performing children were expected to go to college. Hence, showing a direct link between expectations and performance.

“My goal is always to listen to my daughter and try to teach her without making her feel any shame.” – Courtney Cox, Actress

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2. Give your child the freedom to choose

Inspired by Maria Montessori, Google encourages its employees to spend 20% of their time working on a pet project of their choice, encouraging entrepreneurship and creativity within the company’s ecosystem and as a byproduct limiting competition. Hence, it’s important to give your child the opportunity to make their own decisions under your guidance and support. Afterall, if they don’t make mistakes, learn and expose their ideas to the world out there now, then when will they learn? So, empower them today to gradually to be future entrepreneurs and artists.

According to celebrity parent, Susanne Khan, “children should be allowed to use their imagination to do things the way they want to. This will help them to grow up to be confident individuals.”

3. Give them small duties around the house

This could begin from an early age, such as telling them to put back their toys. It will not only give them a sense of ownership but teach them responsibility, give them independence, make them accountable and empathetic of those around them who care for them. Ensure that you praise them for their hard work, and not just for being smart. This is a lesson for them to organize their time better and also develop self-discipline leading to perform better.

“With great power, comes great responsibility” – Voltaire

4. Take the role of mathematics in a child’s development seriously

Mathematics fosters a multitude of skills like problem solving, induces creativity and ultimately lays strong foundations for higher education. According to this article, early mathematics equals future success. It details: ‘A 2014 Vanderbilt study determined that for “both males and females, mathematical precocity early in life predicts later creative contributions and leadership in critical occupational roles.”‘ Amongst today’s learning tools coding is vital in complementing teaching algorithms to children.

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5. A balanced and nutritious lifestyle

A 3 month exercise regimen increases blood flow to the part of the brain focused on memory and learning by 30% and after exercise vocabulary is learnt 5x times faster. This has been proven in this publication. Getting the right fuel is as important as keeping the engine fired and driving cautiously. So, make sure your children have a nutritious diet aiding to their brain and physical development.

6. Make them read to you.

According to TIME, It is advised that you should make your children read aloud and listen to them and instead of blankly staring at pages, interact with them and ask them questions about the topic they are reading. This will not only help them remember what they are reading, but also aid in developing critical thinking skills.

The limitations of academic success

Interpersonal skills are not measured. Whilst IQ tests can measure one’s ability to memorize and identify images and patterns, they seldom measure creativity and interpersonal skills that are fundamental to the development of a successful adult. According to the Telegraph, seven percent of Oxford’s student population are receiving counselling. These people can lack initiative, the ability to ask difficult questions (and solve them), EQ (emotional intelligence quotient), cooperative and communication skills and the organizational discipline crucial to make intelligence an active, rather than a passive, trait. Hence, the education system is not the holistic measure of intelligence because it doesn’t measure EQ and SQ (social intelligence quotient).

It’s also important to remember that nurturing your child isn’t all that it takes. Nature and the course of their life also have a hand to play in it. According to this article, in 2015, Dr. Beben Benyamin found that, on average, our health is determined 49 percent by genetics and 51 percent by our environment. Hence, we need to balance the aspirations of our children and not always project our ambitions that we have for them onto their actions.

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For our children to become the successful leaders of tomorrow we need to develop their EQ and SQ. So, what is social intelligence? It is ‘the ability to successfully build relationships and navigate social environments’. It contrasts with emotional intelligence (ability to understand and control one’s emotions) and this article details it well. Here’s the relevant snippet: When EQ and IQ come together, they form ESI, or Emotional and Social Intelligence. ESI competencies are those “…linked to self-awareness, self-management and relationship management, which enable people to understand and manage their own and others’ emotions in social interactions.” This will not only enable the child to master his/her own capabilities, but, also that of others and creatively problem solve when leading teams to meet objectives of larger organizations or even society.

To conclude, we need to critically evaluate the knowledge gained by our child and foster skills that they wouldn’t otherwise get. WhiteHat Jr answers this call by teaching children coding in their formative years from the ages of six to eleven, when they are their creative best. Taught by the top 99.9th percentile of teachers via one-on-one interactive sessions, your child will be able to bring a lot more to the table, by making apps and animations, creating an environment for you to learn and make you proud.

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