Every parent wants their kid to grow up and become smart and clever. Now, before we get into the topic, let’s get a clear idea of what “Clever” actually means.

The Definition of ‘Clever’

Dictionary.com defines “Clever” as “mentally bright; having sharp or quick intelligence”. Although academic excellence is highly related to Intelligence Quotient(IQ), it is not all there is to be.

A clever person does not only do well in studies and examinations but have other good abilities as well. Examples include logical reasoning, good judgement, common sense, instincts, the abilities to think and analyse critically, make good decisions, communicate and express themselves properly… the list goes on.

Long story short, clever people are more inclined to make things more favourable and ideal for themselves, helping them do well in life, further ensuring long-term happiness.

And the good news is, although talent plays a part in this, it is not the sole deciding factor.  A child’s IQ is actually nurtured. It is trained up by a parent’s teaching methods, the child’s upbringing and the environment they grew up from.

But of course, that doesn’t mean you need to inundate your children with Math drills and Foreign-language classes before they’re out of nappies.

Rather, focus on behaviours that foster a developing mind and intellect instead of praising a child’s innate acumen or talent. Intelligence can be grown in your children, and here are 10 ways to start planting those smart seeds.

1. Talk to them from day one

Talking to your kids, even when they’re small babies, is key to getting those mental wheels turning. Even if kids are too young to understand what you’re saying, they’ll eventually use context to figure it out.

Also, asking your kids open-ended questions will help them develop opinions and a sense of self. It will also let them know those opinions and their individuality matter.

2. Crack the books early

Reading is a huge predictor of school success, so start reading with your babies long before they know what the words mean. Reading stimulates the brain, builds a knowledge base about the world, and acts as the foundation of all future learning, including maths and science.

Make sure books are easily accessible in your home, model good reading habits by making sure your child sees you reading often, and talk to your kids about what you’re both reading to build conversational and reading-comprehension skills.

3. Teach your kids to think through problems and create solutions

Don’t solve your children’s issues for them. Instead, encourage them to focus on a single goal or problem and figure out how to achieve or solve it through creative thinking. This act both stimulates the brain and teaches them that they’re capable of working through obstacles on their own.

4. Praise effort and results, not simple action

We live in a world full of participation awards, but it just makes it hard for them to accept life’s inevitable failures and disappointments. Instead, praise their efforts and hard work rather than their natural abilities. This creates kids who are more motivated and capable of moving forward when they encounter a skill that doesn’t come easily to them.

Kids who are told that they’re naturally smart or talented are more likely to get frustrated and even give up when they’re faced with difficult tasks.

5. Set expectations early and reinforce them often

By setting some overarching goals for your children from a young age, they’re likely to see those goals as important and achievable. That doesn’t mean you need to go full ‘Tiger Mom’ on them, though.

6. Encourage exercise 

Physical exercise makes your kid stronger and healthier. It also has mental benefits, building brain cells and increasing blood flow to the brain.

7. Seek out teachable moments

Simply encouraging your children to use their brains during downtime can help develop their mental acumen. Have them count limes in the grocery check-out line. Start a conversation about wind energy when passing a windmill. Look for letters or numbers on signs while driving. Learning opportunities and teachable moments are everywhere.

8. Encourage curiosity and exploration

Preschoolers are naturally curious, but that inclination can decrease as kids get older — unless it’s practised and encouraged. Engage them in topics that are of personal interest to them, like their favourite YouTube star or action figures.

Ask questions to spark conversation, and share your own interests, explaining why they’re appealing to you. You can also plan experiences like trips to museums, sporting events, or the movies that will help you find mutual likes and inspire new discussions.

9. Teach your child to have a growth mindset

Encourage your kids to see learning as a process through which hard work encourages results; they’ll start as novices but gradually become better over time. Then, when they’re presented with hard tasks, they’ll see them as opportunities for growth . . . instead of seeing themselves as failures for not immediately being experts.

10. Be proactive

Don’t wait for new learning opportunities to present themselves to your children. Seek out activities outside of school that will develop different mental muscles.

When this is said once, this is meant a million times. Academic results are not the only indicator of a child’s intelligence. So parents, do place more emphasis on training a child on how to think critically and help them learn to be creative and innovative. It will benefit him/her in the later stages of life, not only in studies or careers but also in their interpersonal relationships and daily life decisions.

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