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

Would it surprise you to know that children’s intelligence strengths can contribute to their frustration? It’s also true that their weaker intelligences may cause frustration.

Consider these specifics for word smart and whether these may be some of your children’s experiences. Think about how you might talk with them differently when considering it’s their smart that is getting in the way of their confidence. What tools or strategies may help them? (We’ll cover the other smarts in upcoming Wednesday blogs.)

When word smart is a strength, they may get frustrated when they’re not allowed to talk, when they’re not called on in class, when they want to use more words in written answers than they’re allowed, when they can’t think of the word they want to use in a particular situation, and when they want to read more, but are told they must stop.

When word smart is not a strength, writing and reading can fatigue them. They can be stressed by having to think of the best word while writing and speaking. Reading out loud in front of others may scare them. Staying focused while listening may also be hard. Even answering discussion questions may be hard for them as they struggle to find the right words.

Read to these kids often to increase their listening vocabulary. This gives them more words to use when speaking and writing. Whether the word-smart intelligence is a strength or not, this helps them.

Have age-appropriate dictionaries, thesauruses, and miss-spellers dictionaries available. Show they how to use the thesaurus and self-correcting dictionary in their word-processing program. Make sure they know there’s no shame in using these. I use them! If you do, let them know.

Stay available and close by when they’re writing. It can also be helpful when they’re reading long assignments. Sometimes, if they ask for help on a word, just tell them without making it a big deal. Sometimes it’s appropriate to use the teachable moment and point out how to decode or spell it, but sometimes that’s what frustrates them. Just give them the answer they’re looking for. (If every time you asked someone for help it took several minutes and you were taught why you didn’t understand something, would you ask for help?)

Listen to their stories and explanations as you can, but help them understand when all their details may overwhelm or bore people. Increase their people-smart ability to read body language so they know when to stop sharing. And, teach them how to respect and honor others by listening to their stories.

Teach them to read out loud and silently as if they’re acting on a stage. This can help some children enjoy reading more and remember it better. Tell them or remind them to use their picture-smart ability to visualize what they’re reading. This, too, enhances the experience and can increase their memory for what they read.

Have them read out loud and silently easier material than is assigned by teachers. This can build their confidence and increase their vocabulary. For instance, if you know they’ll begin studying rivers from your region in two weeks, you could find a library book on this topic at their reading level for them to read at home. You could read some of it to them. This will give them prior knowledge and exposure to vocabulary their teacher will use. Their confidence will increase.

If your children who struggle to engage when listening have picture-smart strengths, remind them to visualize the content and even draw it while listening if they’re allowed to. Talk with their teachers and encourage them to let your children doodle or draw during lectures. If they have body-smart strengths, try giving them a silent fiddler to keep their hands busy while they’re listening. This is sometimes all the help they need. Again, get their teachers on board.

I hope these ideas for increasing your children’s confidence by considering their word-smart abilities have been helpful. Let me know.


Recent responses to a survey we sent out made it clear many parents are concerned about things their children are and aren’t doing. A common thread to their comments was children’s confidence so this is the sixth post to help you increase children’s confidence so they’ll be better and do better. (You can find titles and links to the other five posts in the right sidebar.)