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

Encouraged. That’s how I feel when pondering the reality that God generously created us with eight different intelligences. After years of studying, writing, and teaching about this topic, I’m still in awe of God’s choice.

Our smarts help us and our children in so many ways. We can learn and study with all eight and learn to communicate in a variety of ways. They can also help us when disciplining children and motivating them to be successful.

Sometimes children need more than our words and teaching to help them behave in proper ways. Consequences (punishments and rewards) may be necessary. They work best when they’re related to the child. That’s one of the reasons the “one size fits all” mentality does not work when thinking about motivation.

If your daughter doesn’t like to read, telling her you won’t take her to the library if she continues to misbehave makes no sense. But, sometimes in the midst of the moment we don’t think clearly. Then we get more frustrated because change doesn’t occur. We feel ignored and we don’t like it.

All children have several smart strengths so thinking of consequences that match is quite possible. This isn’t a complete list of what children like to do or consequences that may work, but it should get your thinking started:

  • Word smart: They like to read and talk so temporarily take away their phone privileges and time with friends. Motivate with new books, a trip to a bookstore to browse the shelves together, inviting friends over for dinner, and/or taking the time to read together.
  • Logic smart: They like to solve problems, experiment, and explore so temporarily take away these freedoms. Motivate with new science-related toys, a Sudoku book, time to watch a Discovery Channel show or You Tube video together, and/or a trip to a museum.
  • Picture smart: They like stories that allow them to imagine and to draw, doodle, design, and create so temporarily take away their art supplies and creative toys. Motivate them with new markers, paper, times drawing together, trips to art and craft stores, a trip to an art museum, and/or enjoying a picture book together.
  • Music smart: They like to sing, play instruments, listen to music, and make noises so temporarily take away their iPods and CDs and don’t let them get together with friends to play instruments together. Motivate them with new music, listening to music with them, enjoying a concert together, learning a new song, and/or arranging to have a meal together with your church worship leader.

I’ve given you plenty to think about and I’m sure your children have strengths in at least one of these four so I’ll save the other four intelligences for next Wednesday’s post. In the meantime, I hope you’ll give something from the list a try and find new success. What’s one thing you’d love a child to change? What reward or negative consequence might help?