6 Powerful Factors That Influence a Child’s Intellectual Development

Einstein. When we think about incredible braininess, nine out of ten times, that’s the name that pops into our heads. Einstein is best known for his theory of relativity, but that’s academic. He became the most renowned scientist of the 1900s, and his most famous equation is one that many of us learned before high school physics class: e=mc2.

Einstein’s work has become famous in Berlin Ohio and worldwide, for his contribution to numerous scientific developments, including the atomic bomb. Einstein earned the Nobel Prize in 1921, and Time magazine honored him in 2000 as the most important person of the 1900s.

How smart was Einstein? His extraordinary intelligence has often been compared with Sir Isaac Newton, and the whole line of Baby Einstein products have been named after him. But was Newton born smart or did he become smart? One of the main issues today about intelligence is related to the “Nature versus Nurture” debate. In other words, are genes or learning more influential on a child’s intelligence? How much do Baby Einstein products help in developing a child’s mind?

Researchers are continuing to learn about the impact of nature and nurture, on intelligence. However, they have already made some important discoveries:

1. Children learn differently. Some children learn more by seeing, while others learn better by seeing, or doing. Even children who grow up in the same family and learning environment can learn at different rates and in different ways.

2. The education and guidance that parents provide their children are the most important factors in nearly all children’s mental development. It should be noted that this also includes the support that they supply indirectly, through another means. For instance, when a parent provides his or her child with nursery school or Baby Einstein products, the child’s intellectual development can still be improved.

3. A system for a child’s learning should focus on multiple facets of a child’s development, rather than just one of them. Instead, it should develop the child’s total collection of experiences in the world. While it is important for a child to develop his or her logical skills, mastering the skills needed for language learning are just as important.

4. Creating experiences that allow children to learn will affect several aspects of their intelligence, such as their musical, linguistic, mathematical, creative, logical and interpersonal intelligences. That’s what makes Baby Einstein products so special. For example, Baby Einstein books not only introduce children to letters and numbers, but they also allow children to use different facets of their intelligence, to help improve their skills in other areas.

5. Parents in Berlin Ohio and elsewhere should help develop several of the intellectual building blocks that children need for learning, before he or she turns two-years-old. Thus, it is important to use products such as Baby Einstein books and Baby Einstein DVDs, to develop the mental skills that children will need for future learning.

6. Both “nature” and “nurture” are vital in shaping a child’s intelligence. It cannot be reasonably argued that only one aspect is important. Also, it cannot be proven that either factor is more important than the other one. While a child’s genes certainly have an influence on how intelligent he or she can become, nurturing is needed in order to mold those genes into a mind that is ready to learn, and is capable of learning.

Researchers will continue to learn the ways that nature and nurture influence a child’s intellectual development. However, it is certainly clear that Baby Einstein products can improve this development in children living in Berlin Ohio and elsewhere. Maybe your child will be the next Einstein!

The Difference Between Being Smart, Educated, and Intelligent

I’ve always been intrigued by the subject of intelligence. As a child my mother would refer to me as “smart,” but I quickly noticed that all parents refer to their children as smart. In time I would discover that all children are not smart, just as all babies are not cute. If that were the case, we’d have a world full of beautiful, smart people – which we don’t.

Some of us are smart; but not as smart as we think, and others are smarter than they seem, which makes me wonder, how do we define smart? What makes one person smarter than another? When do “street smarts” matter more than “book smarts”? Can you be both smart and stupid? Is being smart more of a direct influence of genetics, or one’s environment?

Then there are the issues of education, intelligence and wisdom.

What does it mean to be highly educated? What’s the difference between being highly educated and highly intelligent? Does being highly educated automatically make you highly intelligent? Can one be highly intelligent without being highly educated? Do IQs really mean anything? What makes a person wise? Why is wisdom typically associated with old age?

My desire to seek answers to these questions inspired many hours of intense research which included the reading of 6 books, hundreds of research documents, and countless hours on the Internet; which pales in comparison to the lifetime of studies and research that pioneers in the fields of intelligence and education like Howard Gardner, Richard Sternberg, Linda S. Gottfredson, Thomas Sowell, Alfie Kohn, and Diane F. Halpern whose work is cited in this article.

My goal was simple: Amass, synthesize, and present data on what it means to be smart, educated and intelligent so that it can be understood and used by anyone for their benefit.

PRENATAL CARE

With this in mind, there was not a better (or more appropriate) place to start than at the very beginning of our existence: as a fetus in the womb.

There is mounting evidence that the consumption of food that’s high in iron both before and during pregnancy is critical to building the prenatal brain. Researchers have found a strong association between low iron levels during pregnancy and diminished IQ. Foods rich in iron include lima beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, spinach, asparagus, broccoli, seafoods, nuts, dried fruits, oatmeal, and fortified cereals.

Children with low iron status in utero (in the uterus) scored lower on every test and had significantly lower language ability, fine-motor skills, and tractability than children with higher prenatal iron levels. In essence, proper prenatal care is critical to the development of cognitive skills.

COGNITIVE SKILLS

Cognitive skills are the basic mental abilities we use to think, study, and learn. They include a wide variety of mental processes used to analyze sounds and images, recall information from memory, make associations between different pieces of information, and maintain concentration on particular tasks. They can be individually identified and measured. Cognitive skill strength and efficiency correlates directly with students’ ease of learning.

DRINKING, PREGNANCY, AND ITS INTELLECTUAL IMPACT

Drinking while pregnant is not smart. In fact, it’s downright stupid.

A study in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research has found that even light to moderate drinking – especially during the second trimester – is associated with lower IQs in offspring at 10 years of age. This result was especially pronounced among African-American rather than Caucasian offspring.

“IQ is a measure of the child’s ability to learn and to survive in his or her environment. It predicts the potential for success in school and in everyday life. Although a small but significant percentage of children are diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) each year, many more children are exposed to alcohol during pregnancy who do not meet criteria for FAS yet experience deficits in growth and cognitive function,” said Jennifer A. Willford, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Paul D. Connor, clinical director of the Fetal Alcohol and Drug Unit and assistant professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington has this to say about the subject:

“There are a number of domains of cognitive functioning that can be impaired even in the face of a relatively normal IQ, including academic achievement (especially arithmetic), adaptive functioning, and executive functions (the ability to problem solve and learn from experiences). Deficits in intellectual, achievement, adaptive, and executive functioning could make it difficult to appropriately manage finances, function independently without assistance, and understand the consequences of – or react appropriately to – mistakes.”

This is a key finding which speaks directly to the (psychological) definition of intelligence which is addressed later in this article.

ULTRA SOUNDS

Studies have shown that the frequent exposure of the human fetus to ultrasound waves is associated with a decrease in newborn body weight, an increase in the frequency of left-handedness, and delayed speech.

Because ultrasound energy is a high-frequency mechanical vibration, researchers hypothesized that it might influence the migration of neurons in a developing fetus. Neurons in mammals multiply early in fetal development and then migrate to their final destinations. Any interference or disruption in the process could result in abnormal brain function.

Commercial companies (which do ultrasounds for “keepsake” purposes) are now creating more powerful ultrasound machines capable of providing popular 3D and 4D images. The procedure, however, lasts longer as they try to make 30-minute videos of the fetus in the uterus.

The main stream magazine New Scientist reported the following: Ultrasound scans can stop cells from dividing and make them commit suicide. Routine scans, which have let doctors peek at fetuses and internal organs for the past 40 years, affect the normal cell cycle.

On the FDA website this information is posted about ultrasounds:

While ultrasound has been around for many years, expectant women and their families need to know that the long-term effects of repeated ultrasound exposures on the fetus are not fully known. In light of all that remains unknown, having a prenatal ultrasound for non-medical reasons is not a good idea.

NATURE VERSUS NURTURE…THE DEBATE CONTINUES

Now that you are aware of some of the known factors which determine, improve, and impact the intellectual development of a fetus, it’s time for conception. Once that baby is born, which will be more crucial in the development of its intellect: nature (genetics) or nurture (the environment)?

Apparently for centuries, scientists and psychologists have gone back and forth on this. I read many comprehensive studies and reports on this subject during the research phase of this article, and I believe that it’s time to put this debate to rest. Both nature and nurture are equally as important and must be fully observed in the intellectual development of all children. This shouldn’t be an either/or proposition.

A recent study shows that early intervention in the home and in the classroom can make a big difference for a child born into extreme poverty, according to Eric Turkheimer, a psychologist at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. The study concludes that while genetic makeup explains most of the differences in IQ for children in wealthier families, environment – and not genes – makes a bigger difference for minority children in low-income homes.

Specifically, what researchers call “heritability”- the degree to which genes influence IQ – was significantly lower for poor families. “Once you’re put into an adequate environment, your genes start to take over,” Mr. Turkheimer said, “but in poor environments genes don’t have that ability.”

But there are reports that contradict these findings…sort of.

Linda S. Gottfredson, a professor of educational studies at the University of Delaware, wrote in her article, The General Intelligence Factor that environments shared by siblings have little to do with IQ. Many people still mistakenly believe that social, psychological and economic differences among families create lasting and marked differences in IQ.

She found that behavioral geneticists refer to such environmental effects as “shared” because they are common to siblings who grow up together. Her reports states that the heritability of IQ rises with age; that is to say, the extent to which genetics accounts for differences in IQ among individuals increases as people get older.

In her article she also refers to studies comparing identical and fraternal twins, published in the past decade by a group led by Thomas J. Bouchard, Jr., of the University of Minnesota and other scholars, show that about 40 percent of IQ differences among preschoolers stems from genetic differences, but that heritability rises to 60 percent by adolescence and to 80 percent by late adulthood.

And this is perhaps the most interesting bit of information, and relevant to this section of my article:

With age, differences among individuals in their developed intelligence come to mirror more closely their genetic differences. It appears that the effects of environment on intelligence fade rather than grow with time.

Bouchard concludes that young children have the circumstances of their lives imposed on them by parents, schools and other agents of society, but as people get older they become more independent and tend to seek out the life niches that are most congenial to their genetic proclivities.

BREAST-FEEDING INCREASES INTELLIGENCE

Researchers from Christchurch School of Medicine in New Zealand studied over 1,000 children born between April and August 1977. During the period from birth to one year, they gathered information on how these children were fed.

The infants were then followed to age 18. Over the years, the researchers collected a range of cognitive and academic information on the children, including IQ, teacher ratings of school performance in reading and math, and results of standardized tests of reading comprehension, mathematics, and scholastic ability. The researchers also looked at the number of passing grades achieved in national School Certificate examinations taken at the end of the third year of high school.

The results indicated that the longer children had been breast-fed, the higher they scored on such tests.

TALKING TO YOUR CHILDREN MAKES A DIFFERENCE

Thomas Sowell, author of Race, IQ, Black Crime, and facts Liberals Ignore uncovered some fascinating information that every parent should take note of. He writes:

There is a strong case that black Americans suffer from a series of disadvantageous environments. Studies show time and again that before they go to school, black children are on average exposed to a smaller vocabulary than white children, in part due to socioeconomic factors.

While children from professional households typically exposed to a total of 2,150 different words each day, children from working class households are exposed to 1,250, and children from households on welfare a mere 620.

Yes, smart sounding children tend to come from educated, professional, two-parent environments where they pick-up valuable language skills and vocabulary from its smart sounding inhabitants.

Mr. Sowell continues: Black children are obviously not to blame for their poor socioeconomic status, but something beyond economic status is at work in black homes. Black people have not signed up for the “great mission” of the white middle class – the constant quest to stimulate intellectual growth and get their child into Harvard or Oxbridge.

Elsie Moore of Arizona State University, Phoenix, studied black children adopted by either black or white parents, all of whom were middle-class professionals. By the age of 7.5 years, those in black homes were 13 IQ points behind those being raised in the white homes.

ACCUMULATED ADVANTAGES

At this juncture in my research it dawned on me, and should be fairly obvious to you, that many children are predisposed to being smart, educated, and intelligent, simply by their exposure to the influential factors which determine them long before they start school.

An informed mother, proper prenatal care, educated, communicative parents, and a nurturing environment in which to live, all add up to accumulated advantages that formulate intellectual abilities. As you can see, some children have unfair advantages from the very beginning.

Malcolm Gladwell, author of top-selling book Outliers, wrote that “accumulated advantages” are made possible by arbitrary rules…and such unfair advantages are everywhere. “It is those who are successful who are most likely to be given the kinds of social opportunities that lead to further success,” he writes. “It’s the rich who get the biggest tax breaks. It’s the best students who get the best teaching and most attention.”

With that in mind, we turn our attention to education and intelligence.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE WELL EDUCATED?

Alfie Kohn, author of the book What Does It Mean To Be Well Educated? poses the question, does the phrase well educated refer to a quality of schooling you received, or something about you? Does it denote what you were taught? Or what you remember?

I contend that to be well educated is all in the application; the application and use of information. Information has to be used in order to become knowledge, and as we all have heard, knowledge is power.

Most people are aware of the floundering state of education in this country on some level. We tell our children that nothing is more important than getting a “good” education, and every year, due to government budget shortfalls, teachers are laid off, classes are condensed, schools are closed, and many educational programs – especially those which help the underprivileged – are cut.

The reality is, we don’t really value education. We value it as a business, an industry, political ammunition, and as an accepted form of discrimination, but not for what it was intended: a means of enriching one’s character and life through learning.

What we value as a society, are athletes and the entertainment they offer. The fact that a professional athlete makes more money in one season, than most teachers in any region will make in their careers, is abominable. There’s always money to build new sports stadiums, but not enough to give teachers a decent (and well-deserved) raise.

Ironically, the best teachers don’t go into the profession for money. They teach because it’s a calling. Most of them were influenced by a really good teacher as a student. With the mass exodus of teachers, many students are not able to cultivate the mentoring relationships that they once were able to because so many are leaving the profession – voluntarily and involuntarily – within an average of three years.

At the high school level, where I got my start, the emphasis is not on how to educate the students to prepare them for life, or even college (all high schools should be college-prep schools, right?), it was about preparing them to excel on their standardized tests. Then the controversial “exit” exams were implemented and literally, many high schools were transformed into testing centers. Learning has almost become secondary.

This mentality carries over into college, which of course there’s a test one must take in order to enroll (the SAT or ACT). This explains why so many college students are more concerned with completing a course, than learning from it. They are focused on getting “A’s” and degrees, instead of becoming degreed thinkers. The latter of which are in greater demand by employers and comprise the bulk of the self-employed. The “get-the-good-grade” mindset is directly attributable to the relentless and often unnecessary testing that our students are subjected to in schools.

Alfie Kohn advocates the “exhibition” of learning, in which students reveal their understanding by means of in-depth projects, portfolios of assignments, and other demonstrations.

He cites a model pioneered by Ted Sizer and Deborah Meier. Meier has emphasized the importance of students having five “habits of mind,” which are: the value of raising questions about evidence (“How do we know what we know?”), point of view, (“Whose perspective does this represent?”), connections (“How is this related to that?”), supposition (“How might things have been otherwise?”), and relevance (“Why is this important?”).

Kohn writes: It’s only the ability to raise and answer those questions that matters, though, but also the disposition to do so. For that matter, any set of intellectual objectives, any description of what it means to think deeply and critically, should be accompanied by a reference to one’s interest or intrinsic motivation to do such thinking…to be well-educated then, is to have the desire as well as the means to make sure that learning never ends…

HISTORY AND PURPOSE OF IQ

We’ve always wanted to measure intelligence. Ironically, when you look at some the first methods used to evaluate it in the 1800s, they were not, well, very intelligent. Tactics such as subjecting people to various forms of torture to see what their threshold for pain was (the longer you could withstand wincing, the more intelligent you were believed to be), or testing your ability to detect a high pitch sound that others could not hear.

Things have changed…or have they?

No discussion of intelligence or IQ can be complete without mention of Alfred Binet, a French psychologist who was responsible for laying the groundwork for IQ testing in 1904. His original intention was to devise a test that would diagnose learning disabilities of students in France. The test results were then used to prepare special programs to help students overcome their educational difficulties.

It was never intended to be used as an absolute measure of one’s intellectual capabilities.

According to Binet, intelligence could not be described as a single score. He said that the use of the Intelligence Quotient (IQ) as a definite statement of a child’s intellectual capability would be a serious mistake. In addition, Binet feared that IQ measurement would be used to condemn a child to a permanent “condition” of stupidity, thereby negatively affecting his or her education and livelihood.

The original interest was in the assessment of ‘mental age’ — the average level of intelligence for a person of a given age. His creation, the Binet-Simon test (originally called a “scale”), formed the archetype for future tests of intelligence.

H. H. Goddard, director of research at Vineland Training School in New Jersey, translated Binet’s work into English and advocated a more general application of the Simon-Binet test. Unlike Binet, Goddard considered intelligence a solitary, fixed and inborn entity that could be measured. With help of Lewis Terman of Stanford University, his final product, published in 1916 as the Stanford Revision of the Binet-Simon Scale of Intelligence (also known as the Stanford-Binet), became the standard intelligence test in the United States.

It’s important to note that the fallacy about IQ is that it is fixed and can not be changed. The fact is that IQ scores are known to fluctuate – both up and down during the course of one’s lifetime. It does not mean that you become more, or less intelligent, it merely means that you tested better on one day than another.

One more thing to know about IQ tests: They have been used for racist purposes since their importation into the U.S. Many of those who were involved in the importation and refinement of these tests believed that IQ was hereditary and are responsible for feeding the fallacy that it is a “fixed” trait.

Many immigrants were tested in the 1920s and failed these IQ tests miserably. As a result, many of them were denied entry into the U.S., or were forced to undergo sterilization for fear of populating America with “dumb” and “inferior” babies. If you recall, the tests were designed for white, middle class Americans. Who do you think would have the most difficulty passing them?

Lewis Terman developed the original notion of IQ and proposed this scale for classifying IQ scores:

000 – 070: Definite feeble-mindedness
070 – 079: Borderline deficiency
080 – 089: Dullness
090 – 109: Normal or average intelligence
110 – 119: Superior intelligence
115 – 124: Above average (e.g., university students)
125 – 134: Gifted (e.g., post-graduate students)
135 – 144: Highly gifted (e.g., intellectuals)
145 – 154: Genius (e.g., professors)
155 – 164: Genius (e.g., Nobel Prize winners)
165 – 179: High genius
180 – 200: Highest genius
200 – higher ?: Immeasurable genius

*Genius IQ is generally considered to begin around 140 to 145, representing only 25% of the population (1 in 400).
*Einstein was considered to “only” have an IQ of about 160.

DEFINING INTELLIGENCE

Diane F. Halpern, a psychologist and past-president of the American Psychological Association (APA), wrote in her essay contribution to Why Smart People Can Be So Stupid that in general, we recognize people as intelligent if they have some combination of these achievements (1) good grades in school; (2) a high level of education; (3) a responsible, complex job; (4) some other recognition of being intelligent, such as winning prestigious awards or earning a large salary; (5) the ability to read complex text with good comprehension; (6) solve difficult and novel problems.

Throughout my research and in the early phases of this article, I came across many definitions of the word intelligence. Some were long, some were short. Some I couldn’t even understand. The definition that is most prevalent is the one created by the APA which is: the ability to adapt to one’s environment, and learn from one’s mistakes.

How about that? There’s the word environment again. We just can’t seem to escape it. This adds deeper meaning to the saying, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” It means recognizing what’s going on in your environment, and having the intelligence adapt to it – and the people who occupy it – in order to survive and succeed within it.

There are also many different forms of intelligence. Most notably those created by Dr. Howard Gardner, professor of education at Harvard University.

Dr. Gardner believes (and I agree) that our schools and culture focus most of their attention on linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligence. We esteem the highly articulate or logical people of our culture. However, Dr. Gardner says that we should also place equal attention on individuals who show gifts in the other intelligences: the artists, architects, musicians, naturalists, designers, dancers, therapists, entrepreneurs, and others who enrich the world in which we live.

He felt that the traditional notion of intelligence, based on IQ testing, was far too limited and created the Theories Of Multiple Intelligences in 1983 to account for a broader range of human potential in children and adults.

These intelligences are:

Linguistic intelligence (“word smart”)
Logical-mathematical intelligence (“number/reasoning smart”)
Spatial intelligence (“picture smart”)
Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence (“body smart”)
Musical intelligence (“music smart”)
Interpersonal intelligence (“people smart”)
Intrapersonal intelligence (“self smart”)
Naturalist intelligence (“nature smart”)

Not associated with Dr. Gardner, but equally respected are:

FLUID & CRYSTALLIZED INTELLIGENCE

According to About.com, Psychologist Raymond Cattell first proposed the concepts of fluid and crystallized intelligence and further developed the theory with John Horn. The Cattell-Horn theory of fluid and crystallized intelligence suggests that intelligence is composed of a number of different abilities that interact and work together to produce overall individual intelligence.

Cattell defined fluid intelligence as “…the ability to perceive relationships independent of previous specific practice or instruction concerning those relationships.” Fluid intelligence is the ability to think and reason abstractly and solve problems. This ability is considered independent of learning, experience, and education. Examples of the use of fluid intelligence include solving puzzles and coming up with problem solving strategies.

Crystallized intelligence is learning from past experiences and learning. Situations that require crystallized intelligence include reading comprehension and vocabulary exams. This type of intelligence is based upon facts and rooted in experiences. This type of intelligence becomes stronger as we age and accumulate new knowledge and understanding.

Both types of intelligence increase throughout childhood and adolescence. Fluid intelligence peaks in adolescence and begins to decline progressively beginning around age 30 or 40. Crystallized intelligence continues to grow throughout adulthood.

SUCCESSFUL INTELLIGENCE

Then there’s Successful Intelligence, which is authored by intelligence psychologist and Yale professor, Robert J. Sternberg, who believes that the whole concept of relating IQ to life achievement is misguided, because he believes that IQ is a pretty miserable predictor of life achievement.

His Successful Intelligence theory focuses on 3 types of intelligence which are combined to contribute to one’s overall success: Analytical Intelligence; mental steps or components used to solve problems; Creative Intelligence: the use of experience in ways that foster insight (creativity/divergent thinking); and Practical Intelligence: the ability to read and adapt to the contexts of everyday life.

With regard to environment, Mr. Sternberg writes in his book Successful Intelligence: Successfully intelligent people realize that the environment in which they find themselves may or may not be able to make the most of their talents. They actively seek an environment where they can not only do successful work, but make a difference. They create opportunities rather than let opportunities be limited by circumstances in which they happen to find themselves.

As an educator, I subscribe to Mr. Sternberg’s Successful Intelligence approach to teaching. It has proven to be a highly effective tool and mindset for my college students. Using Successful Intelligence as the backbone of my context-driven curriculum really inspires students to see how education makes their life goals more attainable, and motivates them to further develop their expertise. Mr. Sternberg believes that the major factor in achieving expertise is purposeful engagement.

EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE

In his best-selling 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman reported that research shows that conventional measures of intelligence – IQ – only account for 20% of a person’s success in life. For example, research on IQ and education shows that high IQ predicts 10 to 25% of grades in college. The percentage will vary depending on how we define success. Nonetheless, Goleman’s assertion begs the question: What accounts for the other 80%?

You guessed it…Emotional Intelligence. What exactly is emotional intelligence? Emotional intelligence (also called EQ or EI) refers to the ability to perceive, control, and evaluate emotions. Many corporations now have mandatory EQ training for their managers in an effort to improve employee
relations and increase productivity.

TACIT KNOWLEDGE aka “STREET SMARTS”

You’ve heard the phrase, “Experience is the greatest teacher…”

In psychology circles knowledge gained from everyday experience is called tacit knowledge. The colloquial term is “street smarts,” which implies that formal, classroom instruction (aka “book smarts”) has nothing to do with it. The individual is not directly instructed as to what he or she should learn, but rather must extract the important lesson from the experience even when learning is not the primary objective.

Tacit knowledge is closely related to common sense, which is sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts. As you know, common sense is not all that common.

Tacit knowledge, or the lessons obtained from it, seems to “stick” both faster and better when the lessons have direct relevance to the individual’s goals. Knowledge that is based on one’s own practical experience will likely be more instrumental to achieving one’s goals than will be knowledge that is based on someone else’s experience, or that is overly generic and abstract.

BEING BOTH SMART AND STUPID

Yes, it’s possible to be both smart and stupid. I’m sure someone you know comes to mind at this precise moment. But the goal here is not to ridicule, but to understand how some seemingly highly intelligent, or highly educated individuals can be so smart in one way, and incredibly stupid in others.

The woman who is a respected, well paid, dynamic executive who consistently chooses men who don’t appear to be worthy of her, or the man who appears to be a pillar of the community, with a loving wife and happy kids, ends up being arrested on rape charges.

It happens, but why? I found the answer in Why Smart People Can Be So Stupid. Essentially, intellect is domain specific. In other words, being smart (knowledgeable) in one area of your life, and stupid (ignorant) in another is natural. Turning off one’s brain is quite common especially when it comes to what we desire. A shared characteristic among those who are smart and stupid, is the difficulty in delaying gratification.

Olem Ayduk & Walter Mischel who wrote the chapter summarized: Sometimes stupid behavior in smart people may arise from faulty expectations, erroneous beliefs, or merely a lack of motivation to enact control strategies even when one has them. But sometimes it is an inability to regulate one’s affective states and the behavioral tendencies associated with them that leads to stupid and self-defeating behavior.

The central character in this book who many of these lessons regarding being smart and stupid revolve around is Bill Clinton and his affair with Monica Lewinksky.

WISDOM & CONCLUSION

My great grandmother, Leola Cecil, maybe had an 8th grade education at the most. By no stretch of the imagination was she highly educated, but she had what seemed like infinite wisdom. She was very observant and could “read” people with startling accuracy. Till the very end of her life she shared her “crystallized intelligence” with whomever was receptive to it.

She died at the age of 94. I often use many of her sayings as a public speaker, but most importantly, I use her philosophies to make sure that I’m being guided spiritually and not just intellectually. Many of us who are lucky enough to have a great grandparent can testify that there is something special about their knowledge. They seem to have life figured out, and a knack for helping those of us who are smart, educated and intelligent see things more clearly when we are too busy thinking.

What they have is what we should all aspire to end up with if we are lucky: wisdom.

Wisdom is the ability to look through a person, when others can only look at them. Wisdom slows down the thinking process and makes it more organic; synchronizing it with intuition. Wisdom helps you make better judgments regarding decisions, and makes you less judgmental. Wisdom is understanding without knowing, and accepting without understanding. Wisdom is recognizing what’s important to other people, and knowing that other people are of the utmost importance to you. Wisdom is both a starting point, and a final conclusion.

Gian Fiero is a seasoned educator, speaker and consultant with a focus on business development and music/entertainment industry operations. He is affiliated with San Francisco State University as an adjunct professor and the United States Small Business Administration (SBA) where he conducts monthly workshops on topics such as career planning, public relations, and personal growth.

Improving Intelligence in Children

Children began to respond to their environment while still in the womb. As their organs develop they start to use them. When our youngest son, Jim, was born my wife was learning to play the guitar. The guitar was next to her abdomen and the vibrations could be heard and felt by the baby. We brought him home from the hospital when I was strumming on the guitar next to my wife. The baby flailed his arms and tried to grab the guitar. He wasn’t satisfied until I let him grab those strings. Jim took professional guitar lessons for many years and still plays when he has time to do so.

Providing stimulus to our children improves their mental capacity. I thought my children to play chess when they were about four years old. I taught my oldest son algebra when he was five. I painted in oils to see if my children would develop art abilities. I wrote stories and poems with them to develop their desire to write and to analyze. Children will always explore but you can do a lot to enhance that exploration.

Kids learn everyday in school, church, scouting programs and just while horsing around. A good place to get mental juices flowing is in museums and zoos where the operators cater to children. In museums such as the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia they can be exposed to many areas of science and the world they live in. National parks and reserves are great places to learn.

Hobbies are good teachers. Collecting stamps can help a child learn about countries and cultures. It brings history alive.

Birding teaches them to learn the names and habits of our flying friends. Most kids like bugs when they are little. Such hobbies can lead to careers.

Intelligence is a measure of how well we fit into our environment. Expanding or probing our environment expands our intelligence.

You can motivate your children into having a desire to help others, to be independent, to do difficult things. I always told my kids and I still tell my grandchildren to take difficult courses in college. It expands the mind and cuts down the competition. Four of my children (and one spouse) chose the medical fields where they are able to support themselves and help others at the same time. They shortened the time in college by taking advantage of advanced course work in high school and by learning a second language while giving service overseas.

Nothing happens without faith. No achievement can be obtained unless you have faith enough in yourself to achieve a goal. Children gain self-esteem by doing things. Even learning to tie his or her shoes the first time adds to self-esteem. Building a paper airplane that flies adds to self-esteem. So, parents should play with their kids. They should work with their kids because kids learn to accomplish things when they work.

When I worked in Colorado in a technical environment we hired farm kids because they had mechanical skills and they were hard-working. If you live on a farm, lucky you. You get to work with your parents and siblings.A

Are Your Children Empaths? Teach Them How To Manage Their Emotional Intelligence

We are all born with the ability to sense emotions in others. It’s is a basic survival skill for humans and animals. This ability usually subsides in childhood as we learn to focus more on verbal cues than emotional ones.

Empaths, on the other hand, have a heightened sensitivity to other people’s emotions that keeps developing over time. As other kids stop picking up emotional signals, Empath children become totally overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of emotional information that they receive in social settings.

Since most parents do not know if they are Empaths, they don’t recognize the signs in their kids. It also prevents them for effectively teaching their kids how to manage emotional overflow. For a more in depth discussion on resources for adult Empaths, you can read my articles on this topic here.

Emotional Intelligence is defined as “the ability, capacity, or skill to perceive, assess, and manage the emotions of one’s self, of others, and of groups” (Salovey and Mayer, 1990). When you teach your children how to manage their Empath skills, you are developing their Emotional Intelligence.

There are three fundamental concepts that need to be addressed in order to effectively manage emotional information.

1. Empowerment: Do you control your Empath skills or do they control you (curse or blessing?)

2. Centeredness: Can you always hear your own internal self above all (raise above the chaos)

3. Flow: Does emotional information come in AND out freely (do you have an outlet?)

Is your child an Empath?

Children have a different way of handling their Empath abilities. Their range of available response is smaller, so they typically pick very quiet (as a way to calm down the emotional chaos they feel) or acting out (as a way to be louder than the emotional noise).

Keep in mind that children learn how to manage their Empath abilities by watching you handle yours. If you’re an Empath but don’t know how to handle it, get help for yourself first!

These are behaviors I have observed in Empath children who don’t know how to handle their abilities:

  • Gets unusually quiet (often seen as shyness) around crowds but is fine with the immediate family or smaller groups. Your child is trying to feel empowered and centered by withdrawing from the world.
  • Gets physically or verbally out of control around people but is mellow at home. Your child is trying to find an outlet to the overwhelming flow of incoming emotions.
  • Resists going to bed or wakes up often. Your child is trying to stay centered while surrounded by the emotional activity of adults.
  • Catches every illness available (cold, flu, ear infections, etc.). Your child is trying to feel empowered in shutting down unwanted emotional activity. Being sick is often the only way a child can use to withdraw from social situations.

Of course, this describes about 85% of children. I believe that most children do suffer from a mismanagement of their Empath skills. I also believe that more and more Empath children are born every day. So 85% is not a shocking number to me.

The bottom line is: can you help your child have a happier life by using Empath tools? If it does help, then you’re on the right track!

Disclaimer: This checklist is not a diagnostic or treatment tool. I am not a doctor or a mental health professional. Some of the characteristics of Empaths can be diagnosed as ADD, agoraphobia or clinical depression. Contact your health care professional if you have any questions, need diagnostic or treatment for a mental health issue.

In order to help your child, you need tools that address each of the three concepts (empowerment, centeredness and flow). This is a technique I developed with my son.

Empath Anchoring Technique:

When your child gets overwhelmed, she often just needs a point of reference to stay grounded. You can be that anchor.

1. Calm your own emotions. You can’t be a positive anchor if you’re upset or angry.

2. Tell her quietly “Look me in the eyes” (point to your eyes) and put your hand on her chest. Make sure you have eye contact for the next step!

3. Tell her “We’re going to take 5 breaths together and count them”. Let your child breathe however she wants. You’re just accompanying her, counting out loud with each exhalation.

Breathing quiets down emotional noise, re-centers the mind and helps children feel empowered by having something they can do when they feel uncomfortable. Include Empath anchoring it in your night time routine!

How Natural Playgrounds Help in Children Growth

In a world full of digital advancement, it’s a privilege to access natural beauty and make the most of it. Playground structures in the modern times are more inclined towards installing different types of outdoor playground equipment. They do benefit kids in terms of maintaining physical health, but they aren’t as beneficial as natural playgrounds.

The term natural playground implies structures that use natural materials and existing topology to design a play area that promotes open-ended play. The existing topology includes trees, rocks, logs, water, and other natural elements that can be utilized for children’s playing. The reason why I am emphasizing on natural playgrounds is they stimulate creativity among children. Below are some of the most effective reasons to consider.

1. They Help in Increasing Growth
The fresh air that penetrates through lungs creates a psychological impact on children’s mind. As a result, they want to spend more time than they do in commercial playgrounds. According to a research, the length of kids’ playtime increases up to double in natural playgrounds, which, in turn, increases their level of fitness up to twofold.

2. Promotes Imaginative Play
The natural playgrounds are more charming, welcoming, accessible, and reject the idea of discrimination. Children are bound to play certain games in the commercial playground and this is a practice that restricts their mental capabilities and curbs creativity. On the contrary, a natural playground promotes free play where children are motivated to utilize their imagination and enjoy free play. Kids do not like to be dictated; this is a natural phenomenon that exists in them.

3. Easily Accessible
Natural beauty is everywhere; it’s we who are unfortunate of not using them for good. Even if a natural playground isn’t near your home, you can create one in your home garden. You can install a swing on a tree or ask kids to use them for climbing. There can be a lot of ways of using natural beauty for kids’ play and they would love it a lot.

4. Enhance Social Skills
Since kids are not bound and dictated to play a certain game, they interact with peers for sharing and gathering different ideas. Sometimes, they need team building, too, which also boosts their social skills. Apart from that, playing in the group always includes negotiation and problem solving that help in developing their leadership skills.

5. Develop Motor Skills
One of the greatest benefits children get from natural playgrounds is the development of their motor skills. They get the same benefits from commercial playgrounds, too, but not up to the extent to which they get while playing in a natural playground. The natural settings boost their senses of feeling and touching through the textures and natural sounds.

A natural playground is the one that promotes playing through natural settings. The benefits available in a natural setting can’t be found in a conventional setup. Allow your kids to be more creative by exposing them to natural setups. Don’t dictate them what and what not to play, but do take safety measures for them.

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Enhancing Intelligence With Kids Yoga Stories

In the last decade, studies have been conducted that look into the benefits of Yoga; and several have concluded that with regard to children, consistent Yoga practice is linked to improved academic performance, decreased misbehavior, greater physical fitness, and better overall health.

Use in Schools

Some schools, public and private, across the United States, have incorporated kids’ Yoga into their curriculum, and still others receive subsidies for offering Yoga classes as part of their physical education programs. The results are clear; Yoga definitely helps young people focus, feel better about themselves, and behave more appropriately in an academic setting.

Enhancing Intelligence

It must also be noted that Yoga can help enhance children’s intelligence. Due to the fact that inversion poses improve blood flow to the brain and change the way a practitioner sees the world while practicing, they stretch and stimulate the mind. Yoga poses also feature relaxation techniques that can halt the onset of anxiety, which is a problem experienced by more and more young people and which can block certain brain cells from functioning. As a result of decreased stress levels and increase circulation, children can be more receptive to learning situations. Young minds are so flexible and resilient, increased learning receptivity will naturally broaden the ability to think outside the box.

Storytelling and Kids’ Yoga

To enhance intelligence with Yoga, storytelling is a useful tool that provides a young mind with external stimuli to focus on, while the physical Yoga poses help the child work out excess energy, stress, or other negative emotions. Stories can be told from books, from story boards, or even from memory, as the instructor uses the stories to pace a Yoga asana series and to emphasize certain poses.

In schools, smart teachers can use kids Yoga story time to reinforce their lessons, especially given the enhanced receptivity children have toward learning when they are relaxed. Parents, too, in a family Yoga session, can utilize stories that impart wisdom or moral lessons, to encourage children to grow into kind and wise adults.

Keeping kids Yoga stories creative and fun can also enhance intelligence. One way to do this is to give the class a role in creating the story, by contributing one line at a time, or by giving children responsibility to come up with unique poses to fit the Yoga story’s contents. Allowing young people to author their own Yoga practice can be rewarding for them physically, as well as mentally.

Contribution of Avvaiyar, the Grand Old Poetess to Tamil and an Alphabetical Garland to Children

It is a common belief that there were several Avvaiyars belonging to several periods contributing to Tamil literature. But essentially two Avvaiyars are well known.

Avvaiyar I: Belonged to Sangam period (1st to 3rd century A.D) who lived at the time of the famous kings Pari and Athikaman.

King Pari was a noted philanthropist ranked among seven such charitable kings.

Athikaman, was the Tirukovilur king. The story goes that he gave a nectar like Amla fruit which he got, to the poetess so that she should live for ever. She contributed for the recognition of Tirukkural by poets of SANGAM (Association of learned poets) of Madurai.

Avvaiyar II: In 13th century there were two great Tamil poets Kambar who wrote Ramayana in Tamil and Ottakkuthar. Avvaiyar was a contemporary to them. Her contributions were various poems in the form of sermons to children.
Contemporary

Tamil scholars who popularised Avvaiyar’s works include,

Shri T.K.Shanmugam, (a male actor aged 40 at that time), a doyen of Tamil drama enacted story of Avvaiyar who himself acted as avvaiyar and got laurels for his attempt. He was given the title Avvai Shanmugham after the play.

Shri S.S.Vasan, Moghul of Tamil cinema, produced the magnum opus “Avvaiyar” spending huge money in 1953. Though it was a commercial film, it was rich in literal values and was a money spinner.

The great Tamil poet Subramania Bharathi (Bharathiyar) was an ardent lover of Avvaiyar and followed her teachings in his poems for children.

There are several learned professors and Tamil scholars who have done extensive research on Avvai literature.

Sri Krishnan, well known as Vempattur Krishnan, named out of his village, has authored hundreds of books on Tamil Literature. One such book is “Encyclopaedia of Avvayar’s Tamil” in which a thorough research has been made about works of Avvaiyars, and articles from several doyens of Tamil Literature are published. Here below, a list of various works of Avvaiyar were consolidated and written as ‘Avvaiyar Tamil Literature’.

Her contribution to Tamil Literature:

1 Devotional poems, which are mainly on Lord Ganesa, the elephant God who removes all the hurdles in any attempt, if prayed. Secondly poems on Goddess Saraswati, the Goddess of Learning. Thirdly poems on Lord Siva, who is the ultimate authority controlling all actions. By virtue these devotional poems, a moral character is inculcated in school children. Hence most of the schools invariably contain these songs in curriculum.

2 Contribution to Sangam Literature::

i. Poems in ‘Aha nanooru’ which means four hundred songs on personal and family life.

ii. Poems in ‘Pura Nanooru”which means four hundred songs on adventure life in a kingdom.

iii. Narrinai which means guidance for good life

iv. Kurunthokai which means short verses.

3. Several moral teachings including,

Neethi Ozukkam: Moral justice
Nalvazhi: moral path of living
Moothurai: teachings of elders
Ulaka Nithi: rightful living laws on Earth
Kalvi ozukkam: morality of education.

And several moral teachings meant for students but applicable to elders as well.

What are Aththi soodi and Konrai vendhan?

Special mention may be made of about Aththi soodi’ and ‘Konrai Vendhan’ which are masterpieces of Avvaiyar Tamil Literature which the students start learning from kindergarten and which they teach their children in later age, and the teaching is continued for generations. Thus teachings of Avvaiyar Tamil is beyond chronological age and goes on for ever.

Aththisoodi means garland made up of ‘Aththi’ flower and Lord Siva is sitting under the tree ‘konrai’ wearing the garland.

Several English translations are also available. Rev Dr John, Rev Biiset and author Sudgen have translated both these teachings in English. ‘Moothurai’ had been translated by Robinson. These translations have been widely appreciated mainly by Rev Fr G.U.Pope who was a doyen of Tamil Literature.

Here is an attempt to redefine Aththisoodi by this author in his own words. It may be noted that it is not translation, but coining own instructions in English.

ATHTHISOODI, an alphabetical garland of instructions;
“Do’s and don’ts mainly to children, a trial in English:
(In author’s own words)

A: Abide by moral laws.
B: Be honest in all your duties.
C: Care for the weak and elders
D: Don’t delay good acts.
E: Eat minimum, live long.
F: Follow the right path.
G: Give only whatever you can spare.
H: Have a helping tendency.
I: Impart the knowledge you learnt to others
J: Judge not people by mere appearance.
K: Keep quiet in August audience.
L: Love thy neighbour as thyself (Christ teaching)
M: Mind your words.
N: Never stop learning.
O: Obey elders’ advice
P: Pardon others’ ignorance.
Q: Quest for enlightenment.
R: Respect the feelings of others.
S: Speak Truth always.
T: See good things, Hear good things, do good things. (Mahatma Gandhi)
U: use not hurting language.
V: Verify before believing.
W: Waste not your valuable time and energy.
X: Xerox not others’ actions.
Y: yearn for noble things.
Z: zeal to achieve.

Consonants with vowels:
In the same manner phrases can be formed for other combined letters like BA, BE, BU, BI and BU and so on. A guidance has been given in this article and readers may take the cue and form their commands.

The commands may appear simple, but the effect of moral teachings through these simple commands to children is tremendous. Instead of teaching only A for apple, B for bat and so on, if it is taught A: Always respect the elders and B: Be honest in all your duties, it will have a strong impression in growing minds, because it is Avvaiyar’s teaching that “CATCH’EM YOUNG’..

How to Save Kids From the Dangerous Side of the Internet

The internet has revolutionized the way we think and behave nowadays. Apart from keeping us connected with people who are poles apart, it provides us with a great source of information. To be honest, neither I nor my kids can imagine our lives without the Internet, but I was worried sick about how to save them from the dark side it holds. The commonly prevailing theft, pornography, and fake news on the Internet can be a hell of a lot more dangerous for your kids than you think.

Some parents think engaging kids in outdoor play and banning the use of the internet for them is a solution. But, it’s not! You can’t save your kids from using the Internet as it is everywhere. If they don’t use it at home, they will use it at school or at a friend’s place. The only thing you can do is aware them with the negative aspects and increase their maturity in the following ways.

1. Place your Computer in the Lounge

When your kids are below 15, avoid placing the computer in their rooms or anywhere private. Do not allow them laptops and install a common computer for them in the lounge or any shade structure in your home. You, too, might have to sacrifice a bit for them as they get attracted to devices when they see adults using them. In their presence, try to keep your laptops and tablets inside and use the common computer only.

2. Look at What they are Looking at

You don’t need to do it once they have grown up, but you have to be a little investigative when they are below 18. I try to browse through histories and my kids’ social media accounts to know what they are into. Once I found them browsing an inappropriate website, so I counseled them on how it can harm them.

3. Teach them Not to Publicize their Personal Information

Personal information is the most powerful tool for thieves and sexual predators for blackmailing and negative use. I have always taught my kids not to use their personal information including phone number, email address, photograph, passwords, and even real names on social media websites. Furthermore, aware them to only talk to people they know.

4. Block Unnecessary Material

Your kids may get access to some websites unintentionally. For example, they may reach some harmful pornographic websites while looking for their biology queries. You have to keep an eye and block such websites to keep them protected. They don’t know what they are looking at and it’s better they don’t till they grow up.

5. Be Friendly and Empathetic

The only way you can protect your kids from the negative aspects of the Internet is to be friendly with them. Don’t be too strict or bossy that they fear telling you things they experience. For instance, be frank enough to them so that they may open up to you in case they go through cyberbullying. That’s the only way you can protect your kids!

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Science Experiments and Stem Activities for Kids

Science is an integral part of STEM learning that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematic. STEM learning aims to promote a better understanding of these four disciplines in a more ‘Whole’-istic way. In fact, a simple task like using a wagon to move something from one place to another involves number of principles of science, mathematics, engineering and technology. The children can be benefited by STEM learning especially if it is organized in form of science camps etc.

STEM learning aims to make science fun, enlightening and easy for kids. There are numerous hands on activities that can be done in the science camp that would follow the basic principles of STEM to make the learning impactful and long lasting. Researchers have proved that practicality helps learn faster. Going by that, STEM activities done in a science camp would be easily remembered and the principle behind those activities would be understood without difficulty.

As STEM activities are project based activities, it becomes easy for children to comprehend the principles of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in an easy going manner, especially if it is done under the guidance of teachers or facilitators of a science camp. There are many activities that can be done to create a base for understanding key concepts that would be required later on in life as well. Such as:

Heavy And Light
In a science camp, kids would be able to learn basic concept of heavy and light through STEM activities. As STEM requires everyday item, using glass, water and couple of oranges the concept of floating could be explained. Why heavy things go down the bottom of the glass and why light things float can also be explained.

Natural Phenomenon
Kids are curious and everything fascinates them. There are number of natural phenomenon that can be practically explained to them through STEM activities in a science camp.

Rain can also be demonstrated through some shaving foam, water and colour. This activity would fascinate children and would also be a great learning experience for them. they can in fact learn the concept of how rain is formed, how clouds are formed and so much more, which is very fascinating.

Building From Scratch
As STEM activities require the kids to use concepts of all four disciplines, such activities in a science camp would be of extreme importance. Child would do measurements, procure things of which a particular thing can be constructed, and brain storm to decide about the size etc. all this would require considerable amount of knowledge of STEM concepts. Activities such as building a bridge from sticks or Lego blocks or straws or designing a race track would come under this.

Science Of Water
Water is kids’ favorite. Period. There are number of activities designed around water, to make them understand various concepts of science.

E.g. States of Water through science experiments kids’ would understand all three forms of water i.e. gas, liquid and solid. How much temperature is required for it to turn into solid or gas, what are its properties etc. can be clarified through the experiments in a science camp.

Concept of Density can also be explained to them by using various liquids as plain water, dishwashing liquid, sugar syrup etc. This will make them learn a complex concept in a more comprehensive and understandable way.

Science can be made fun and educational for kids by using STEM learning. There are a lot of things a child learns in a science camp that would propel them towards practical understanding of concepts.
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5 Tips to Encourage Self-Motivation in Your Little One

Do you find your little one less enthusiastic about playing with her friends? Does she seem aloof to you about everything else? Do you find that she is deteriorating in her studies as well? If you nodded in affirmation, then there are high chances that your little one lacks self-motivation.

Self-motivation is the key that leaves a great impression on how your little one is pacing in her daily life. From performing well in the curriculum to building some good habits, a self-motivated child can do wonders with her life. Motivation comes naturally until the age of seven, but up till reaching this age group a kid is observing her surroundings and always learning something new. However, after the age of seven, she must be able to motivate herself.

Although self-motivation is an inside process and varies from kid to kid, as a parent, you can always motivate and push your child to nurture her ability to do better and better. Here’s how you can do that:

1. Stay Positive

Even if she is failing at something, always dwell on the efforts she is putting in rather than nagging about the things she is not good at. If there is a problem, try to be compassionate and come up with a solution. You will soon see this positive outlook and behavior being reflected in your little princess.

2. Appreciate Efforts

Rather than just saying ‘good job’ for everything, take some time to rethink how you want to appreciate all the good things that she is doing. For example, if she shares her toys with her friends, you can acknowledge her good behavior by complementing, “Your friend must have enjoyed and felt immensely good when you shared your toys with her”. This will motivate your charming daughter to always behave well and do good in other aspects of her life.

3. Tackle Failures

Tell your little bundle of joy that it is okay to lose sometimes. What is important is the attempt and what she learns from failing at it in the first go. This trait of gracefully accepting the defeat and moving on from setbacks will prove immensely beneficial later in her life.

4. Adopt Learning Style

When a certain subject is hard to learn for your kid, then you can encourage the learning through fostering her interests. Suppose if she likes baking, you can teach her the measuring concepts by teaching her how to measure the ingredients. This will teach her about size, volume, and density without even making it appear like a burdensome math lesson.

5. Build Self-Esteem

When she believes in herself, any difficult mountain can be moved with ease. Building a positive self-esteem will open the ways towards building self-esteem. Help your little one to build self-esteem and believe in herself, then there won’t be even a single thing that she would think of as unattainable. You can always try to look out what she enjoys doing the most and how she interprets the right from the wrong.

Final Word

Like any other parent in the world, you would also want your little one to be successful in school and later in her life as an adult. Set your little one on the path of success by inculcating self-motivation. Always encourage your pretty princess to go beyond the boundaries and achieve big. It is a vital skill that is needed for whatever she chooses to do in her life!