Every Wednesday, I’ll post about multiple intelligences so we can better understand children and why they do what they do.

Summer can be a perfect time to awaken each of the eight smarts in your children. Just because your children were born with the capacity to develop their smarts doesn’t mean they will. Awakening them is essential. And, the earlier you do it, the better. There’s a greater likelihood they’ll become strengths. (I blogged about eight ways of doing that here and here.)

Another thing to do in your remaining summer weeks would be to work to undo any paralysis that has occurred. Yes, it’s possible that one or more of your children’s smarts have been paralyzed. It can be just temporary if the right interactions follow and your children choose to try again.

In this blog and next Wednesday, I’ll list eight common things that can paralyze intelligences so you can determine whether this has occurred and some changes to make.

Fear of failure. Children won’t grow if they’re not willing to embrace new ideas or try new activities. If they’re always afraid they’ll be wrong and found out and possibly laughed at, fears will prevent them from progressing. Their smarts may atrophy in this environment. Think about how you respond to their efforts and mistakes and make changes, if appropriate. Possibly apologize if you’ve been critical and unforgiving toward your children’s errors. Maybe it’s happened with logic smart, but not music smart. Or picture smart and not body smart. Be careful to think of all eight smarts when analyzing this and the other ways paralysis occurs.

Perfectionism. Children often become perfectionistic because they haven’t taken risks and learned that mistakes aren’t deadly and failure isn’t final. They may believe they are what they do – and, therefore, they must do everything perfectly. One or two mistakes may be all that’s necessary for paralysis to begin. This is especially true when parents overreact to children’s mistakes and are constantly saying “You can do better” even when there’s no evidence that’s true. Are your children not looking forward to another school year beginning partly because they’re afraid they won’t please you again? What kind of a talk could you have with them?

Not respecting the need for practice or study time. Paralysis can occur when children are expected to be performance-ready all the time. They can give up and stop trying because it’s not realistic. Practice and studying is often necessary, especially if we want children to master something. Have you told children that practicing and studying is smart and it doesn’t mean they’re stupid? Have you encouraged them to stay current this summer?

Ignoring people’s performances. Constantly ignoring or playing down people’s performances is the opposite of the above problem and it, too, can also have a paralyzing effect. When dad never goes to the science fair or mom never attends the band concert, paralysis can be right around the corner. When backpacks aren’t emptied and good papers celebrated, children notice. They can decide, why bother… Were you so busy or distracted last year that you ignored your children more than is appropriate? Let they know you’re sorry and you’re looking forward to more totally engaging with them and their activities this school year. That can be what they need to hear.

If your children are old enough, sitting down with them and this list might be the most effective way to uncover whether paralysis has occurred. When the time is right and you’ve established trust, talk about these four concepts. Watch their eyes as you share. Look for reactions that say, “Yes, that’s it. That’s why.” Ask for details and then ask what would help them try again. Tell them you’ll support them AND make sure you do when the school year begins!


Click here to read “Identifying Eight Common Denominators in Intelligence Paralysis, Part 2.”