Tuesday, January 03, 2012

If You Really Want A Smart And Happy Kid

If you really want a smart and happy kid, watch him. Just hang out while she's doing whatever it is she's doing. 

Try to not ask questions unless you're genuinely curious. Try to not praise unless you're genuinely impressed. Try to not boss him around. When your agenda conflicts with hers, try to understand when she behaves as if there is a conflict.

Try to not even talk unless you have something urgent or informative or heartfelt or very funny to say.

If you don't know the answer, be brave enough to say, "I don't know." If you don't want to answer, say, "I need to think about that," because that's what you're going to be doing right up until you inevitably do answer.

Touch him a lot. Pick her up when she needs it, but otherwise let her stand on her own feet.

When he gets hurt, you'll know what to do; that's the easy part of parenting. The hardest part is letting her just be smart and happy.

This is all good practice for a lifetime as a parent, especially when they're all grown up. The best of it is to love them, to watch them, and to be there because they still need you even if you're not doing anything at all.

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Aunt Annie said...

Awesome. Sharing.

MOM #1 said...

So sweet, and oh so true.

CARRIE said...

For the longest time, I felt like I had to constantly interact with my kids to make their brains huge.

But eventually, probably when I realized that this strategy takes WAY too much energy when one has 3 kids ages 5 and under, I learned that they are much happier and I am too when I just sit near them as they play....available, close.

Rebecca Erlewein said...

Thank you so much for this post.

Mullin Avenue Workshop said...

This is lovely.

Mike said...

This is so true. I love your blog Tom. You write such great things!
Cath from http://squigglemum.com/ put me on to you, she said you are the best male teacher edublogger out there, I have to agree. I'm a high school teacher, have started my own blog this year. Would love some advice. My blog is about teachers as parents in the classroom and much, much more!

Check it out http://www.notyourparent.com/ and let me know what you think! Would love your advice for successful edublogging.


Mike (not your parent)

Anonymous said...


For an active parent I think it can be more difficult to let them be, rather than making them be what we want them to be.

Thanks for the post, and the reminder.

thefairyandthefrog said...

I love this post - I'm a speech and language therapist (pathologist) and one of the things we often do is to work with parents to help then step back, observe, wait and 'listen' to their child before talking to them- to help them follow their child's lead. It's often a hard concept to express. You have expressed very eloquently here. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more! What about kids in pre-school. Should observing be a teacher's primary role? I feel that parents today are so insecure about whether their child is being creatively, socially, cognitevely, etc. challenged enough, that it creates this enourmous pressure on educators to come up with endless activities for children. We (in general) are constantly trying to out-do ourselves and NEVER seem to just step back and see what kids create on their own. Even the pressure to provide an endless supply of "loose parts" and art experiences for kids is positively too much. It can almost feel manic at times. Why can't we all just chillax and TRULY let the children play?! Sorry, I feel better now, and sooo want to say how much I agree with your post.