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

In last Wednesday’s post, I suggested that working to undo any intelligence paralysis that has occurred would be a great use of the last of our summer days and weeks. I covered four typical ways paralysis sets in. Today, I’ll write about four more.

Although all children (and adults) have the capacity to develop all eight smarts, each must be awakened. Each also needs to be strengthened. (I’ll blog about this next week.)This is especially true when a smart has been paralyzed because it means it wouldn’t have been used for awhile and the person would be pessimistic about it.

Paralysis can be undone. Although it’s never too late, this is more likely to occur when a positive interaction takes place soon after paralysis begins. Sometimes, a simple apology is the most powerful reawakening tool.

Here are four ways paralysis can set in. Decide if one or more have possibly occurred and what you could do to undo some damage.

Not allowing for exploration and self-discovery. When the focus is always on right answers and an efficient learning process, paralysis can set in. Rather, being interested in creative responses and how people arrived at their conclusions can keep intelligences alive. When children are free to explore, they’ll discover truths unrelated to their original search. Making these connections will almost always involve more than one intelligence. That increases the likelihood they won’t be paralyzed.

Dismissing or ignoring people’s questions. Curiosity is a key to children growing their interest and ability in each smart. Stifling it is a key to paralyzing it. When children find no one will help them answer their questions, they’ll eventually stop asking them. This means they’ll stop growing. How are you doing at this?

Not being available. This way of paralyzing smarts is closely related to dismissing or ignoring people’s questions. If we’re not approachable, children (and adults) will lose interest, unless they’re very self smart. Those children can be very satisfied to think and explore by themselves. For others, constantly having to do things alone is draining and not as fulfilling. Not having someone to brainstorm with or ask questions of can result in temporary paralysis. Do you need to make any changes so children know you’re available and approachable?

Being quickly critical. I hear about this one a lot when I talk with children about their smarts. When people look first for what’s wrong rather than for what’s right, this negativity can paralyze. Discouragement sets in from words spoken with a harsh tone and when uplifting words someone wants and needs to hear are never spoken. Regular looks of disgust are also a sure way for negativity to paralyze. If you asked your children if you come across as critical, what would they say?

As I recommended in last week’s post, sitting down with your children and this list might be the most effective way to uncover whether paralysis has occurred. Talk about these concepts. Watch their eyes as you share. Look for reactions that say, “Yes, that’s it. That’s why.” 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 1.”