Smart Parenting for Smart Kids: Nurturing Your Child's True Potential
March 2011, Jossey-Bass
"My kid is smart, but..."
It takes more than school smarts to create a fulfilling life. In fact, many bright children face special challenges:
- Some are driven by perfectionism;
- Some are afraid of effort, because they're used to instant success;
- Some routinely butt heads with authority figures;
- Some struggle to get along with their peers;
- Some are outwardly successful but just don't feel good about themselves.
This practical and compassionate book explains the reasons behind these struggles and offers parents do-able strategies to help children cope with feelings, embrace learning, and build satisfying relationships. Drawing from research as well as the authors’ clinical experience, it focuses on the essential skills children need to make the most of their abilities and become capable, confident, and caring people.
Introduction: Rethinking Potential.
1 Tempering Perfectionism: What Is “Good Enough”?
Michael: Focusing on flaws.
Kirsten: Deflecting blame.
Sam: Avoiding activities at which he doesn’t excel.
Angela: Feeling inadequate.
2 Building Connection: How Does Your Child Reach Out to Others?
Andrew: Seeking an audience rather than a friend.
Clay: Avoiding joining the group.
Amalia: Feeling rejected by peers.
3 Managing Sensitivity: How Does Your Child Handle Criticism, Conflict, and Disappointment?
Mario: Perceiving betrayal.
Jessica: Balking at constructive feedback.
Samir: Chafing at a change of plans.
Collin: Shouldering the world’s woes.
4 Handling Cooperation and Competition: How Does Your Child Fit in a Group?
Steven: Insisting on his way.
Anita: Being a sore loser.
Misha: Fearing competition.
Craig: Dealing with competition in the family.
5 Dealing with Authority: How Does Your Child Respond to Those in Charge?
Lisa: Being blind to authority.
Nicholas: Making everything an argument.
Stephanie: Fretting about adults’ anger.
6 Developing Motivation: What Matters to Your Child?
Ethan: Avoiding schoolwork.
Jared: Complaining that schoolwork is boring.
Diane: Not applying herself in school.
7 Finding Joy: What Makes Your Child Feel Happy?
Monica: Finding fault instead of fun.
Conner: Searching for personal meaning.
Conclusion: The Pressure to Perform Versus the Power to Grow.
Selected References and Recommended Reading.
About the Authors.
Eileen Kennedy-Moore, PhD, is a child and family clinical psychologist in Princeton, New Jersey. She is the author or coauthor of several books on children's feelings and friendships.
Mark S. Lowenthal, PsyD, has helped many children, teens, and their families during his twenty-two years as a clinical psychologist. His private practice is in Maplewood, New Jersey.
– Stephen R. Covey, author, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
“A smart, deeply perceptive and important
– Wendy Mogel, PhD, author, The Blessing of a Skinned Knee
"This book helps parents see how to encourage their children to
develop as whole people with feelings, ideas, and the ability to
cope with the occasional disappointment too."
– Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, PhD, author of Einstein Never Used Flash Cards
“Filled with vignettes and strategies for raising smart
kids to become healthy, happy and contributing adults.”
– Vicki Abeles, Producer, Race to Nowhere
Smart Parenting For Smart Kids:
Nurturing Your Child’s True Potential
San Francisco, CA— Potential is a dangerous word, say psychologists Eileen Kennedy-Moore and Mark Lowenthal, authors of Smart Parenting for Smart Kids: Nurturing Your Child’s True Potential (Jossey-Bass; ISBN: 978-0-470-64005-0; March 2011). Fears about not achieving potential can create a terrible burden for children and parents who feel pressured to start early, go faster, do more…or risk falling short.
Surprisingly the greatest anxiety about achievement—in both kids and parents—often surrounds the children who have the most scholastic aptitude. Because these children are so capable, the stakes feel very high for them. The pressure to perform can eclipse and complicate their ability to figure out who they are, what matters to them, and where they fit in the world. They may even come to see their accomplishments as the measure of their worth. This leaves children terribly vulnerable: If they don’t perform perfectly, if someone else is “smarter,” or if they have to struggle to learn something, they feel inadequate or even worthless. “Even their victories can feel empty because admiration is a cold substitute for closeness,” says Kennedy-Moore.
Smart Parenting for Smart Kids is a book for parents who understand that potential is not an end-point but a capacity to grow and learn. Kennedy-Moore insists, “It makes no sense to talk about kids ‘not living up to their potential’ because the miracle of children is that we just don’t know how they will change, or who they will become. Our job as parents is to try to equip our children for their journey, rather than to dictate their path.”
A sensible and compassionate antidote to “push parenting” and the “Race to Nowhere,” Smart Parenting for Smart Kids offers parents practical strategies to help children cope with feelings, embrace learning, and build satisfying relationships. Drawing from research as well as their clinical experience, Kennedy-Moore and Lowenthal identify and address seven fundamental challenges:
- Tempering perfectionism
- Building connection
- Managing sensitivity
- Dealing with authority figures
- Handling cooperation and competition
- Developing motivation
- Finding joy
These are core issues that children struggle with and parents worry about. Each chapter features vivid anecdotes describing familiar and painful dilemmas involving children between ages 6 and 12, as well as in-depth discussion and do-able solutions. Smart Parenting for Smart Kids focuses on the essential skills children need to make the most of their abilities and become capable, confident, and caring people.