She’s got the world at her feet.

This post should be read by mothers raising their first child,
it truly could save you some suffering in the long run!

I have to laugh whenever I see people boasting the talents of their toddlers. I am not laughing AT you my mother friends, just WITH you. (unless you aren’t laughing, and then I guess I am laughing at you) I so used to be the same way. I used to love to compare my little girl with other children. “Oh, yeah, she knows all of her alphabet, she can count to 100, and she has every Book of Mormon prophet memorized” and this was at the age of 2. (and this was the truth)

But, several years ago that child comparison game got very old for me. How did I get past it, you ask? I just birthed a few more kids that weren’t labeled as “prodigy material”. It only took me two seconds to realize that just because one child learns faster, it didn’t make her entitled to better success. My other two children are also very bright in their own ways, and they have every bit of a chance at success than Abigail does. (even if Bella is almost 5 and still doesn’t know how to write every letter)

I used to drill Abigail over and over again, and she loved it. My other two children, don’t love being drilled. And, I am happy to report that I have gladly accepted that they will learn most everything they need to know in school; I do not need to send them into school ready to pass kindergarten. (I did that with Abigail and all it did was lead to her own boredom)

Abigail could read at 3. She could do math by 4. She is extremely smart. In soccer, she can play a mean forward, but because she is even smart on the soccer field, she is put at midfield (she is smart enough to play offense and defense).

Abigail was labeled as “smart”, but what did that do for her? It hasn’t boosted her drive, it has only made it tainted. I recently read an article in the Reader’s Digest that says that a parent should not praise a child’s intellect, but their effort. We found this out the hard way.

Here’s the quote from the article, Inspire Your Kids:

Social psychologist Carol Dweck, PhD, tested the effects of overpraise on 400
fifth graders while she was at Columbia University. She found that kids praised
for “trying hard” did better on tests and were more likely to take on difficult
assignments than those lauded for being “smart.”

So, now that Abigail is 8, and still ingenious, what do we focus on? We focus on her motivation. We focus on the fact that just because she is smart it doesn’t mean that she can sluff.

It is a fine act of balancing. We want her to pave her own way, and not do things because we want it, but because she wants it. When I recently read this article I felt really good about not pushing her too hard. I knew there had to be a reason (besides our own laziness) that we shouldn’t have to stay on her case 24-7.

Little did I know, that Abigail has a great effect on other children. Do you remember Doogie Howser,? Well today, psychologists are calling The Doogie Howser effect good for competition. They say that because of overachieving children, normally developed children try harder. No wonder that Sophia and Bella are more driven, they are trying to keep up with Abigail. Abigail better watch it, or they will just pass her right by.

Consequently, I knew there was a reason that I recently have been learning not to compare myself to others. I just figured out that everyone has the world at their feet and everyone has a different role to play in that world. I don’t need to push myself because Doogie is a child doctor, I need to push myself towards the goals that I set for myself. Who cares what Doogie is doing?

And it is precisely for this new found knowledge: that of the Doogie Howser effect, that I am reminded again that LG is a genius and I am just one of those hamsters in the wheel trying to catch up. LG never pushes himself because someone else seems to be doing better than him. He truly doesn’t even pay attention to what other people are doing. When I used to ask him, “how did everyone else do on the final?” He would say, “I don’t know Alice, I really don’t care.” And he was serious…do you see how that can make a person emotionally healthier?

Why doesn’t he care, you ask, because he has always known that he is a genius. He was told so since he was a child. He was an oldest. And, as the oldest, what do you think that he is always working on? You got it, his motivation! (You see, this is just one big round cycle) Me, on the other hand, I was a middle child. I have always known that my intellect is average and that if I wanted to outdo others, (especially those people called my smart older siblings) it would come by pure effort alone. And, I am proud to say that I took that challenge head on.

Until recently, that is, when I learned that when you jump off the wheel, it means that you get automatic “smarter” status. Guess what, in the past few months, my IQ just jumped a good 20 points or so. Now, that’s what I call having the world at your feet.

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10 comments

  1. I love this post. I’ve learned with my kids that each of them have talents in different areas and that sometimes they are amazing but not always (Tayson learned some things really fast…then he totally forgot them because he stopped caring). I try hard not to compare my kids they do that enough on their own. I’ve also learned that different things motivate them. Tayson is competitive like me so he loves charts and contests. Luke could care less and would rather have a hug or kiss for doing something good. So far Claire just does things because she’s supposed to – I’m sure this will change all too soon. I’m a middle child too and could never be as smart as George (a doctor), Steve (a pHD) and Sherry who can do anything. But none of them can tap dance better than me. So there! 🙂

  2. Great post. I love your husband’s comment–wouldn’t it be great if we were all that way. (Maybe I should just speak for myself–I sure wish I was ; )

  3. Did you write this post for me? I love you for it! I know you didn’t, but thanks. I am so impressed with your family. What an understanding mother and wife you are. They are all so blessed to have you helping them along.

  4. love this one, Alice! It’s so true. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how I just want my kids to work hard and not be afraid of hard things. That matters the most in the adult world and the rest of their lives, not how good they are at math minutes! and our kids are so different, as well, that it’s important to let them be themselves. Thanks for the thoughts.

  5. This is a really good thought, because it is so easy to compare between kids. I always worry about Bensons speech because he doesn’t say very many words, but I think Brielle was just on the other end of the spectrum. Family placement really does affect everything, and I have to say I always sympathize with the youngest child because once it gets to them, no one cares about anything anymore!

  6. This is great! I popped over from Renee and Kristen’s blog. I absolutely agree! We can drive ourselves crazy trying to make our children become who we think they should be. The harder we push for them to confrom to this image, the harder they pull to become something else. Thanks for expressing it so well!

  7. I have had teh same experience with my gifted 16 year old. And now that my 7 year old has tested gifted, she will have a MUCH different experience than her brother. I just wish I could go back and re-raise my 16 year old!

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