Be honest—haven’t you dreamed your kid will grow up and have some prestigious career, like a doctor, lawyer, or maybe even the president? Many parents are obsessed with helping their kids become more intelligent, but can parents really make a difference? Smarts aren’t all about genetics; resilience, curiosity, and a willingness to try new things play a big role, too. Try these 6 tips to help support your child’s development and raise a smart, successful kid.
Read, Read, Read
Reading with your kids is one of the best ways to boost their brain development. Whether you’ve got an infant or a young adult, try to read with them, not to them. Encourage them to interact with the story, whether it’s opening and closing flaps in a board book or allowing them to read a page or two as you go along.
Don’t Fix All Their Problems
When your child is hurting, you want nothing more than to swoop in and save the day. Hurt and bleeding? You’ve got a bandage handy. Trouble with friends at school? You’ve got their teacher on speedial.
It’s tough, but taking a step back and allowing your child to problem solve actually helps them in the long run. Problem solving teaches resilience and creativity, two important qualities that are characteristic of successful adults. Next time your kid comes home complaining about the kids on the bus, discuss the situation with them and encourage them to find a solution on their own.
Encourage Them To Journal
Emotional intelligence, or the ability to recognize and manage emotions in yourself and others, is a hallmark characteristic of successful people. It’s even more important than a high IQ! Journaling is one way to develop emotional intelligence from a young age, since it helps kids perceive and come to terms with their emotions.
Feed Them “Brain Food”
A healthy diet nourishes your child’s body and mind. Studies show that the best brain foods are just what you’d expect—whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and proteins like eggs and nuts are all great choices, as are salmon, yogurt, and beans.
Exercise With Them
OK, you’re not necessarily going to take your kid to the gym, but playful exercise, like going to the playground, playing tag, or enrolling them in sports can actually boost brain cells. If you’re struggling to get your kid interested in exercise, make it a family affair—go on a family hike or take a bike ride together.
Allow Independent Play
Today’s parents favor highly structured activities over unstructured play. But sending your kid outside without an agenda helps them to become more creative and curious. Instead of plying them with toys, educational television, or flash cards, try letting them explore for themselves.
In Case No One’s Told You Yet, You’re Doing Great
Your kid might not be the smartest, the most athletic, or the funniest in the class, but they’re your perfect kiddo. Don’t be too hard on them, or on yourself—remember, you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent for your kids.