It's up to us as parents to recognize, develop and appreciate our children's intelligence gifts and talents instead of depending on the school to do it. Whether it be creative, analytical, or practical intelligence -- focus on what your child does best, and success will follow. Self worth and motivation will grow. Success in one area helps kids develop the momentum to work harder in tasks that are more difficult.

Research at Gallup, Inc., an international research firm that studied more than 250,000 successful professionals in various fields, showed that the highest level of achievement come when people are matched with activities that use their strengths. This study suggests that, instead of spending the majority of our time trying to correct weaknesses and remedy problem areas, we should focus on our special talents. "We estimate that for every one strength," wrote Donald Clifton and Paula Nelson, authors of Soar with Your Strengths, "we possess roughly one thousand nonstrengths. That ratio shows it would be a huge waste of energy to try to fix all of our weaknesses."5

By finding something your child is good at and then investing in that skill, you can avoid what Dr. Mel Levine describes as the "chronic success deprivation" in which a student goes through many years of life with few, if any real triumphs and has little chance to develop her gifts. "A kids who is not very popular, who has school problems, and who doesn't play sports well may be deprived of success in life at that point. Sometimes a student like that just gives up or gets very depressed."6

You know your child the best, love her the most, and can spot talent and intelligence that school overlooks. All kids are born with a lot of potential in one or several areas (even those with disabilities) and several areas of talent usually work together in concert as kids grow up and sue them in a career. For example, a NASA engineer would possess spatial talent math and analytical intelligence. A politician might be linguistically and logically intelligent and have strong people skills. Succeeding as a professional dancer and instructor requires body, musical and interpersonal smarts.7 But the determinant factor in whether or not the young person's talent blooms is the support, encouragement, and development offered by parents.

Here Are Some Ways To Begin:

Observe your child as he works, plays, interacts with people, solves problems, and does homework.

Listen. Ask questions and you'll discover what sparks her, whether at school or at home. Ask: What do you like to do most of all? What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing at school? Find her center of learning excitement, the subjects she is most fascinated with and wants to learn more about. Observe what she takes the most pride in. The answers are a clue to abilities and strengths you can help her develop.

Be aware of character and personal strengths -- such as empathy, which is needed by nurses, physical therapists, and others in the caring professions; or nurturing abilities, which can help make great teachers, parents, and managers; or perception, which novel writers and artists possess.

Take another look at what we often think of as "negative qualities" in our children. With an eye to the possibilities, you can see their strengths through these: the "daydreamer" may be a creative thinker or an inventor. The bossy child often has administrative ability that can put her in charge of her own company someday. The student who balks at directions and finds out-of-the box ways to do things might be a creative thinker. The confident kid who is always challenging your opinions may have valuable logical and analytical ability when she "grows into" her gift. In the meantime, be patient and remind yourself that your child will grow into her gift as she matures.


Excerpted from Talkers, Watcher, and Doers copyright 2004 by Cheri Fuller. Used by permission of NavPress/Pinon Press. All rights reserved. For purchasing information click here.