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

When children misbehave or lack motivation, sometimes consequences help them improve. Both punishments and rewards can help. They’re most effective when both are used and when they’re related to the issue you’re hoping changes.

As I pointed out in last Wednesday’s post, matching incentives and negative consequences to children’s smarts can also be effective. “One size fits all” does not work. Last week, I explained how to consider a child’s word-smart, logic-smart, picture-smart, and music-smart strengths when setting consequences. Today, I’ll cover the other four.

Body smart: They like to move, participate in athletics, watch sports on TV, dance, and build with their hands so temporarily take away their opportunities for these activities. Motivate them with new sports supplies, lessons with a coach, attending a game together, playing catch, dancing with Wii, and/or building together with Legos or similar toys.

Nature smart: They like being outdoors, paying attention to pets, learning about nature, and collecting things based on patterns so temporarily keep them inside, have someone else feed your dog, and don’t allow them to add to their collections. Motivate them by exploring the outdoors together, getting a new book/DVD/game about nature, helping them start a new collection, and/or giving them something to better store their rocks and special things in.

People smart: These children like to interact with others and to think with others. They enjoy sharing ideas, relating in casual settings, working together, and figuring others out in order to help them. Temporarily taking away their opportunities to be with friends and to talk with friends, even on the phone, can be effective. They won’t enjoy being alone unless they also have self-smart strengths. If they do, you’ll want to consider consequences based on other smarts. Motivate them by spending time with them, inviting their friends over, or teaching them a new game or intellectual activity to do together. Because a strength of people-smart people is to read body language and respond appropriately, a friend of mine and her daughter sometimes go to a mall and watch people. They quietly make up stories about them based on body language, facial expressions, and what they’re wearing. They’re not disrespectful and they have a great time doing it. Perhaps this would be a fun motivational activity for you to try.

Self smart: They need quiet, peace, privacy, and space. They think deeply inside of themselves, value their own opinions, and like choice. You could temporarily take away the privilege of choice. Forcing them to spend time with others probably isn’t a good idea. The resulting stress may make their negative behaviors more common, not less. Rather, take away other things they enjoy doing when they’re alone. Perhaps it’s computer games, reading, puzzles, or playing with your dog. Motivate them by getting together to answer their deep questions, providing information about something they’re very interested in, and helping them create a new private spot in their room by rearranging floor pillows and posters.

What do you think? Will you try one or more of these ideas the next time your children need support to help them change? I hope so.

To further help you in understanding how to help children change, join us for a Celebrate Kids Webinar on January 24th. We’ll be live from 1-1:30 p.m. CST, but you’ll get a link active for a week so you can listen at your convenience if you can’t be with us live. It’s FREE. You can register here for “Help! Will My Kids ever Really Change?”