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

Figuring out how children are smart and helping them use all their smarts benefits them and us in numerous ways – primarily because it can help them believe in their abilities to learn and they can choose to invest more energy in school/learning, therefore being more successful.

Would it surprise you to know we can apply our understanding of how children are smart to the theme of gratitude? We can.

At the beginning of this school year, I taught a group of teachers and parents in South Carolina how important gratitude is to children’s character. One of those teachers has decided to use “gratitude journals” with her children this summer. She’s doing one, too. Each day, they’ll write or illustrate something their grateful for and they’ll share with each other at night.

I decided to update this post and the one we’ll publish next Wednesday because maybe you, too, will have more time in the summer to establish gratefulness as a pattern in your children’s lives. It’s important. Letting people know you appreciate them can be truly life-giving and life-changing. [A version of this post was first published on November 14, 2011.]

We can consider people’s intelligences when thanking them. We can also consider people’s smarts when figuring out what to buy them if we want to express gratitude that way. If we communicate our gratitude in eight different ways, they’ll really get the message. Here are examples for three of the smarts. Come back next Wednesday for the rest.

Word smart – Write a note full of specifics explaining why you’re thankful. Use synonyms and strings of adjectives to amplify your point. Or, read the note to your friend or just tell the person how you feel. Record it for them so they can listen over and over if they want to. If you want to purchase or make something, they appreciate books, paper, and different pens/pencils to write with.

Logic smart – Let these people know they’re appreciated for their problem-solving abilities. Tell them you like the questions they ask you because they help you to think things through well. They tend to appreciate puzzles to solve, games related to logic, science experiments, and chances to discover how things work. A day at a children’s museum would be great for them.

Picture smart – You probably appreciate these people’s artistic abilities, use of color, and creativity. Tell them or, better yet, show them by taking or drawing a picture to express your love and gratitude. Ask them to show you their favorite colors and pictures and why they like them so much. Go with them to a showing at the art museum. Go to a craft store and buy something to create with your friend.

My niece, Katie, is very picture smart. During her middle school years, she talked a lot about becoming an interior decorator. For her birthday one year, I purchased two books filled with pictures of rooms and houses that someone with that career might have used to get inspiration. At the time, I didn’t think that’s what Katie would become, but I honored her by listening closely and she LOVED her gift. She poured over those books for a long time and thoroughly enjoyed her dreams and telling others about them.

Have these examples generated your own ideas? Great! We should probably all express our gratitude more than we do. To your success…


“Knowing which smarts are our strengths helps us make informed decisions about how to be more successful in all of life and at school. We’ll have new ways of listening, studying, and memorizing. We’ll also learn how to enhance relationships, our career, what to do in our spare time, and how to lift depression. We also can choose to strengthen our weakest intelligences, which will improve our lives.” Please click here to learn more about multiple intelligences and  Dr. Kathy’s book, How Am I Smart? A Parent’s Guide to Multiple Intelligences.