The Smarts #3: Confidence Increases

In last Wednesday’s blog about the 8 great smarts, I wrote about how they can be awakened. We believe all of us are born with the capacity to develop all 8 smarts. The earlier they’re awakened, the greater the likelihood they’ll be strengths for a lifetime. But, why bother? Why does it matter that children know how they’re smart? It matters greatly! Read this excerpt from my book, 8 Great Smarts: Discover and Nurture Your Childs’ Intelligences.

Confidence Increases

Every child wants to be smart. When your son wonders if he is or concludes that he’s not, he can be defeated before starting on an assignment or listening to a teacher or you. Is your daughter ever discouraged because she doesn’t think she’s as smart as she thinks she needs to be? Perhaps you’re sometimes disheartened, too. It’s not fun!

At the beginning of my programs about our smarts, some children have a hard time believing they have all eight. Maybe school is hard for them. Or they may have been told they’re stupid. Maybe they don’t earn many A’s or B’s.

As children hear each of the intelligences described, they begin to believe the evidence I provide. They elbow their siblings or parents and I see them mouth the words, “That’s me!” Their smiles, and those on parents’ faces, too, indicate past hurts and current doubts are being healed and erased. Fabulous! The children relax before my eyes. By the end of the program, when I ask them to raise their hands to indicate their top four smarts, many struggle with the limit. What joy to see them go from not thinking they’re smart to struggling to choose only four intelligence strengths an hour later! (It’s common for parents to indicate they feel smarter, too. Yes! They’ll parent better because of new understandings about their past and increased confidence. Although your child will be the focus as you continue reading, be open to discovering truths about how you are smart. Get ready to reject lies!)

When you and your child understand there are eight intelligences, the question changes from “Am I smart?” and “How smart am I?” to the much more valuable How am I smart?” It’s no longer about the amount of intelligence but instead about which intelligences are strengths. And, it’s not as much about comparing with others as it is becoming who we were designed to be.

Children taught about the eight great smarts will apply themselves, have the confidence to tackle more challenging work, and learn more efficiently and strategically. Teach them truths from this book, talk about the smarts as situations present themselves, point out every day uses, and affirm them specifically with language that builds them up. “You sight-read that well because you’re music smart” is much more valuable than, “Good job.” “You’re self-smart. That’s why you came up with those unique ideas on your own. I’m impressed! ” is much more valuable than “I never would have thought of that!” or “What made you think of that crazy idea?

If you’re homeschooling your child, you can use many ideas in chapters 3 to 10 to teach to all eight parts of the mind. You can teach with one smart and reteach or review with another. If you’re not your child’s teacher, you can use different intelligences when helping your child complete homework, study for tests, and learn Scripture. Studying with more than one intelligence helps children better understand what they’re learning. They’ll remember what they learn longer, apply their learning more accurately, and be more optimistic for the future. Their grades will often improve.

Less Likely to Believe They’re Dumb

Children are empowered when they’re taught about the eight ways they are smart. They learn they have some smarts that are strengths and some that aren’t. The new question, “How am I smart?” is a key. This is very different from believing intelligence is limited and they don’t have enough.

Children can learn to discern which smarts to rely on during different academic and social activities. This gives them some control over how they do, builds confidence, and increases effort. Intelligence isn’t fixed and it’s not narrow. It’s very wide and all encompassing. God was generous when He created us as He did!

When something is hard for children who know they’re smart in many ways, they can think about whether using a different intelligence would help. When they don’t do well on an assignment or test, they know they can approach the content differently by studying with a different smart. Their default won’t be to believe, “I’m dumb.” Rather, they’ll think, “I can improve by using another smart.”

Children who don’t know they have multiple intelligences will often feel dumb when they get a “bad” grade and when tasks are challenging. They have nothing else to rely on. They believe their intelligence is fixed and causes all outcomes—those that turn out well and those that don’t.

Parents who only tell their children they’re smart, and don’t also talk about the role of character, create a dangerous situation. Now, if their children don’t do well, they can only blame their lack of intelligence. This can quickly result in hopelessness. They may then slide down a slippery slope to apathy, self-rejection, and lowered expectations. These children may never accomplish what God designed them to do.

*** On Wednesday, I’ll continue this topic with three additional reasons it’s wise to teach children HOW they are smart.

      From 8 Great Smarts, by Kathy Koch, PhD, (Moody Publishers, 2016), pages 23-27.


Where do you or your children need more confidence? In what ways can you see understanding the smarts having a positive affect? How can you explain the smarts to your children so they’ll believe more for themselves? I encourage you to make this happen soon. Then watch for the effect it has on your children. Celebrate growth!