While it’s true that some kids seem to be born geniuses, others need gentle nudges to help them bloom. Any child can discover a passion for learning at any age, so you should never assume that it’s too late for them, or that because they weren’t writing their name perfectly at two years old, they are a lost cause. Our youngest daughter struggled with reading until she was nine, then we found the right books to interest her, and the penny seemed to drop. Now she cannot get enough of books about dragons and cats.

Let’s talk about some of the critical steps to helping your child reach their full potential – you might be surprised at some of the things that shape your child’s interests.

Watch Your Language/Attitude Around Your Kids

The first thing you need to do is watch your language and attitude around your kids. Your kids tend to see themselves as you say you see them, so if you ever call them stupid or an idiot in the heat of the moment, this could seriously affect them. Your voice will likely become their inner voice one day, so make sure you’re saying positive things to them. Of course, over-praising your kids can be harmful too, as they can become narcissistic so finding balance is essential.

Encourage School Trips

School trips can be a fantastic way for your kids to experience different situations and scenarios. Science trips for schools are fabulous, so ask teachers about these, making suggestions of your own and offering to help organize or chaperone a trip.

Also, make sure you support your child, signing any paperwork and putting money aside for them to attend. If money is an issue that would stop your child going on a trip, try talking directly to the principal. Most schools can subsidize school trips for students from time to time.

Read To Your Kids

Start reading to your kids as early on as possible to get them into the habit of listening and ignite their imaginations. Read to them, and when they’re old enough, encourage them to read to you. Teaching your kids to love reading is a great way to make them smart. You could even tell them stories off the top of your head, which has proven to be beneficial too.

Remember though, if your child doesn’t enjoy reading don’t force it on them. Go back to books and reading from time to time and encourage your child to be involved in choosing the stories you read and if they don’t like reading books try comics, textbooks, instruction manuals, anything with words is reading.

Praise Effort, Not ‘Talent’

One of the worst things a parent can do is praise talent instead of effort.  For your kids to develop a growth mindset, you need to praise their effort. This way they know that it’s the effort that counts, and they will try harder at certain tasks and won’t mind putting work in when the time calls for it. Praising talent can subconsciously tell them that if they’re no good at something, they will never be good at it. It can also turn them into perfectionists, which can stop them from doing anything at all through fear of failure.

Let Your Kids Be Kids

Letting your kids be kids is a must too – let them make a mess and play. Expose them to different types of play while they are young, such as ‘messy play’ which can teach them about different textures. You need to let them get out there and experience the world so that they develop some street smarts for themselves. Wrapping them up in cotton wool isn’t going to be good for anybody.

Limit TV Time

Time sat in front of the TV is usually time that could have been better spent doing something else. For instance, they could have been reading, doing their homework, making something using their imagination, and having all kinds of fun. Don’t let them watch the TV all the time just to shut them up or when they say they are bored. Let them be bored sometimes, as this forces them to use their imagination. Kids are naturally super creative, so encourage them by letting them figure things out for themselves sometimes.

This doesn’t mean you have to ban them from using the TV, but you should be vigilant about how much of it they watch. When it comes to computer games, go for the educational kind. These have been proven to have positive benefits, but again, you need to make sure they are playing in moderation and still staying active. Sitting playing games for too long can be dangerous to their health.

Become A Role Model

Your kids are far more likely to do things they see you doing. You can tell them they should/shouldn’t do something all you like, but your actions speak much louder than your words. Make sure you read, limit your TV time, create things, learn continuously, and do the things you’d like them to do. You don’t have to be the smartest person in the world. You just have to show them that stepping outside of their comfort zone is a positive thing to do.

Avoid Micromanaging  

Don’t micromanage your kids, or you’ll potentially hinder their confidence. It cannot be emphasized enough: let them find out things for themselves.