WARREN SMITH, HOST: I’m Warren Smith and today you’re listening in on an encore presentation of my 2016 conversation with author and speaker Kathy Koch.
KATHY KOCH, GUEST: In this book, Eight Great Smarts, I do talk about character development because it’s not appropriate for our kids to think they’re so smart they don’t need to persevere, have initiative, be diligent, try harder. I don’t want them to be egotistical and prideful. I’m smarter than you are. No, the book is about how am I smart, not how smart am I.
SMITH: This summer we’re taking a bit of a break from new interviews and digging into the Listening In archives to present interviews that those of you who have discovered the program in the last couple of years likely haven’t heard and which all of us could benefit from hearing again.
Today, we feature a 2016 interview I did with Dr. Kathy Koch. Kathy Koch believes all children—indeed, all people—are smart, but we’re not all smart in the same way. She says the tools we use to measure intelligence—such as IQ tests—are OK at helping us to identify a particular kind of intelligence but misses the vast majority of ways that we humans learn, process information, and create.
She’s written a book on the subject and it’s called Eight Great Smarts: Discover and Nurture Your Child’s Intelligences. Kathy Koch is also the founder and president of Celebrate Kids, a Fort Worth-based ministry that helps parents, educators, and children learn and grow. I had this conversation with Kathy Koch at the June 2016 Great Homeschool Conference held in Ontario, California.
You know, people talk about intelligence quotients as if smarts was kind of one thing. And you simplify that there are all kinds of different smarts. So you’ve identified eight great smarts. You didn’t originate that idea. There’s a man that I want you to tell me about, Dr. Howard Gardner.
KOCH: Correct. He is a psychologist at Harvard University and he first in the late 70s and early 80s as a psychologist, was very interested in the brain and it was through his work that he discovered at seven intelligences. Then he added an eighth. And he never expected educators like myself to get ahold of it, but we saw the application to it in learning methodology and curriculum choice and even how we embrace the Lord and how we would embrace discipling our children. So he is the researcher. He’s the one who determined through studying stroke patients and brain lesions and a variety of ways that it’s a smart, not a talent, not just an interest, but actually a smart.
SMITH: Well, I think a lot of people are familiar with kind of the idea of some people are visual learners. Some people are auditory learners, some people learn by doing. This model takes that to a whole different level.
KOCH: You know what it does. Thank you. Those three things that you mentioned are modalities. That’s how we remember. So, some children remember by hearing and speaking that’s auditory. Some remember by seeing. They’re visual learners. And some remember by doing and they’re kinesthetic. That’s how I remember. This model of the smarts is how do I think and how do I learn? And so it’s how do I process the emotion? How do I process thought? Way bigger than how do I memorize and remember.
SMITH: Let’s go quickly through the—I mean obviously we can’t dig into a lot of detail into all eight smarts, but if we could just, you know, real quickly, let’s go into that. And I’m going to read the smart, the particular smart, and you tell me a little bit about it.
KOCH: I’d love to
SMITH: Especially, you know, since it’s how we think. Like when I say word smart, you would say that’s someone who thinks with—
KOCH: Words. When we talk, when we write, when we get excited, we have conversations going on inside of our head and outside of our mouth. We tend to like vocabulary and we probably enjoy the school activities of reading and writing.
SMITH: Well, you know, I deeply resonated with that cause I’m word smart.
KOCH: Of course you are.
SMITH: As a writer and the thing that we’re doing right now, we’re talking.
SMITH: And you know, it’s funny that sometimes I’ll be doing something and my wife will say something to me and I won’t even know she’s talking to me. And I didn’t know that that was really a manifestation of me being word smart, that I’ve got words going on in my head, that I’m talking to myself, that I am processing my environment, my world with words in that moment so that when she tries to say something to me, I’m just not getting it.
And you know, Kathy, my oldest son, when he was little, I would—he was a sweet boy and still is a wonderful young man. But I would tell him to do something and he would look me in the eye and he would nod as head. Yes sir. Yes sir. You know, and be very compliant. And then five minutes later I would realize he hadn’t done it. And I would say, you know, “Cole, do you remember what I told you five minutes ago?” And he would, “No, I don’t remember.” And so I’d tell him again and then I finally got to the point, I’d say, repeat it back to me.
SMITH: And whenever he repeated it back to me, that was his word smartness coming out. But I didn’t know that language for that at that time. I mean, it was just a light bulb went off whenever word smart hit me.
KOCH: That’s so cool because it’s the word smart, right? To find out that this is how—it’s not a deficiency.
SMITH: That’s right. He wasn’t being rebellious, he wasn’t being, you know, not paying attention or negligent. He was just processing with words and thinking with words. And I hadn’t given him an opportunity to really fully do that.
KOCH: I love that. And if I could jump on that, what if he isn’t terribly word smart? What if in that moment that wasn’t one of his top four and he’s more picture smart or body smart, then we say, okay, act out for me what I’ve just asked you to do. So now he’s using body smart and we’re going to get there in a minute to be able to be successful.
SMITH: Well let’s hold body smart for a moment and let’s go to the second one, which is logic smart. Tell me about logic smart people.
KOCH: When we are being logic smart, we’re thinking with questions. We like to ask and answer them. We probably are drawn to math and science. We love it when the world makes sense and when we can figure things out. That makes some things hard and some things easy.
SMITH: Well of course as a journalist I ask questions all the time. So word smart, logic smart. Those were two that as I was reading your book it, again, it really resonated with me. And, again, I don’t want to make this interview Kathy all about me, but it is interesting that part of the power of this is that we start to understand ourselves and we start to understand the people around us.
KOCH: Bingo. And it’s never too late, right, to understand that God created you this way and look where you’ve landed. To God be the glory. You were parented well and taught well and had good mentors, I’m sure, that created boundaries for you and led you in this direction and look. And for myself, I love telling the joke that I was a chatty Cathy as a child and now people pay me to talk. It’s amazing because you know why we were created to be who we are.
SMITH: Well, and you say that, that if you do have mentors or parents in your life, for example, in your case, if your parents had told you to shut up, Cathy, rather than, you know, sort of bit their tongues and indulged that chattiness because they somehow, some way recognized that that’s how you process the world. Things would have been really different for you.
KOCH: I don’t believe I’d be here talking with you. I believe I would have been paralyzed and what God had created in me as a gift would have been paralyzed and diminished and I would’ve felt badly. I would’ve clammed up. My ideas might never have been shared. I believe I would’ve been successful at something, but there’s something about being in that groove, right? Being in that space of power that comes from a good fit between who you are and what you’re doing.
SMITH: You say that word smart and logic smart in particular are school smarts. Those are the two kinds of smarts that we generally celebrate in school and in most of our institutions. And that’s great to know that because we can help our kids be successful by developing word smart and logic smart. But there are six other kinds of smart that we are not very good at learning to recognize or we’re not very good at recognizing.
KOCH: Exactly. There are many schools that unfortunately do not advocate for those other six. Curriculum and methodology that might not fit for these kids. So they could be extremely talented, very creative, very expressive with their physical body as an actor or a dancer and yet not able to perform and prove it in the high-end academic classes of math, English, science and history. And so then they don’t feel smart. Their brother’s the smart one, the kid in the front row is the smart one. Then they lower their expectations themselves and they don’t accomplish what I believe they could have accomplished.
SMITH: And we put them in sort of false boxes, inappropriate boxes. We say these kids are smart, these kids are athletic, these kids are artistic, for example, just to use three. But the athletic kids are not smart. The artistic kids are not athletic, right? Is the implication of that taxonomy and what you say is that we should just not do that.
KOCH: Exactly. They’re all smart and what I enjoy talking to creative kids about is you’re creative in the ways that you’re smart or you’re smart in the ways you’re creative, OK? So, as somebody who’s word smart, like you and I, we’re probably creative with words, right? Wordsmithing. Thinking of a new adjective, thinking of a better verb that somebody else might’ve used. That’s part of our word smart power. That’s how our creativity shows up. But somebody with a different smart is going to be creative differently. So, part of the passion is that we’re not wrong. We’re different.
SMITH: Okay, let’s go to the third one. Picture smart. I think, again, this idea of people being visual learners is what immediately comes to mind. And there is an element of that in being picture smart, but there’s more to it than that, right?
KOCH: Right. Picture smart people think with pictures in their mind and on paper. They are visual to think with, not just to remember by, but you might ask them a question and they go up into their mind to draw, if you will, something based on the verbs and the nouns and the adjectives that you’ve used.
SMITH: Well, one of the things that I thought was interesting in the book, if I’m remembering this right, is that you said, whenever, say, for example, a picture smart kid who might have trouble with a logic smart or a word smart skill, you actually tell them to draw a picture or to write in the air and just do things that would physically help them create a picture in their mind.
KOCH: Absolutely. Here’s an example: If I say the word flame, what do you see?
SMITH: Well, I see a fire. Flames.
KOCH: Okay. I see F-l-a-m-e on fire. So I’m very word smart. I’m not very picture smart. So I see the letters as flames, as part of a candle, if you will. That is a great way of doing word and picture together. If I ask a very picture smart person to describe flame, they will describe in vivid detail the flame at the end of the candle and the color of a deep red changing to a deep orange and then a bright yellow.
SMITH: A couple more real quickly before we have to take a break, Kathy. Music smart and body smart I want to get to.
KOCH: OK, music smart kids think with rhythms and melodies. They might hum and toe-tap and bebop and sing when they’re enthusiastic about something. Mississippi, we could be almost dead and we will know how to spell that word because we put it to a rhythm and a melody and that really enhances memory. So these kids are going to creative in the music smart way. They can enjoy it and to be good at it or just enjoy it. But we all have the smart. the ability shows up if the interest is really fueled by the parent. OK? So, that’s music smart. Band and orchestra. These are the things that keep kids in school who don’t have the word and the logic to do well in chemistry and honors English. But these activities, they thrive there. And that could be their joy in their adulthood as well.
And then the body smart kids, they think by movement and touch. They’re the athletes, the dancers, the actors. They learn best by walking with a clipboard and they’re the ones who can skywrite. They can take and make their name in big and paint the sky and then they remember how to make that capital B.
SMITH: You know, one of the things that you said to the group and you say in your book as well, is we talk a lot in this day and age—more so in the last 10 or 15 years than in years past—about kids that are OCD, have obsessive compulsive disorder or ADHD or ADD. And you’ve got some pretty specific things that you say about that as well. What are some of them?
KOCH: For instance, I do think that—let’s take ADD or ADHD as an example. I think those are chemical imbalances in the brain. There’s no shame or blame there. If you’ve taken your child to a nutritionist and an allergist and a pediatrician, and you’re confident in an assessment and you see this behavior 24/7/365, let’s call it what it is. No shame or blame. God created them with that challenge. It can actually be a gift that allows them to be extremely productive if we help them channel it right.
However, Warren, what I find is that a lot of these kids are actually body smart and they’re moving and they’re shaking, they’re rattling and they’re rolling. They can’t sit still because when they’re excited about an idea, their body jerks forward and they move and they raised their hand and they didn’t even know they raised it. And we’re drugging them and we’re stealing them from the culture and the world, right? Cause we’re drugging away from them what God has chosen as a gift. So I get it. What I want for these kids is to learn respect, self-control, respect for others, obedience. I want them to be educated in a system that fits, and I want them to be affirmed that this does not make you bad. This is how you’re wired, but here’s some help
SMITH: And if we allow that giftedness to blossom, we just never know what these kids might become.
KOCH: Oh, seriously, I agree totally.
SMITH: Kathy, we’ve already talked about six of the smarts. There’s two more that I want you to hit and then I want to sort of pivot and change gears on you a little bit because these smarts have implications and I want to talk about some of these implications. The last two are people smart and self smart. Tell me what those are about.
KOCH: When we’re being people smart, we think with other people. So we’re brainstormers, networkers. We know what we know when we hear ourselves say it and someone responds. So what you and I are doing right here would be an example of being very people smart where our eyes are actually communicating part of the energy and what’s going on here. Hopefully the listeners are hearing that even in our voices. So people smart people, they can manipulate or motivate. They are very good at reading body language and responding appropriately. We are the kids and the adults who could walk into a room and know who might be dangerous or who they might want to sit by. So very important intelligence to build into our kids.
The opposite is self-smart. And when we’re being self smart, we think deeply inside of ourselves through reflection. No question seems easy. We have to know what we know what we know. And our joy is knowing the knowing. And there’s something really exciting that happens inside of you and you don’t need to tell anybody. You’re just so happy to know what you know.
SMITH: You said something whenever you were describing people smart that I want to come back to and then drill down on a little bit. And that is that people smart people can either motivate or manipulate. And one of the things that you say in the book is that all of the smarts have—you don’t say you have good and bad. You say have the potential for good and the potential for harm. And what you just said with motivating and manipulating. That’s just one example there. It seems though that one of the implications of understanding that these various smarts would be to try to call out, you know, as parents or as friends, we would want to call out the good and minimize the harm that these various smarts engender in a person. Is that fair?
KOCH: Absolutely. I’m totally in support of what other people have said about you call out good you get good. I’m not saying that as parents, nor are you, that we ignore the negative and the harm. We certainly need to point out to children and correct and not criticize. But when we see children being smart with their smarts, motivating when they could have manipulated, telling the truth when they could’ve lied, hugging instead of hitting, being self-controlled and not needing to be very active at grandma’s house. So they were very body smart because they didn’t get obnoxious with it. We need to say to our kids, “You were so smart with your smarts, Jonathan. I am so proud of you.” It’s very powerful for kids. This is why we have to develop the heart along with the mind, right? And the whole character for self control, self respect, respect for others.
SMITH: It seems to me, and I’m wondering what your experience is, I’m just thinking as the father of four kids and the spouse of one wife for the last 35 almost years is that a lot of times the conflict that I have with my wife or that I have with my kids is me not recognizing their smart and thinking that it is either rebelliousness or indifference or selfishness or something else. And, you know, there’s a passage that goes to this and, Kathy, I’m wondering if you’d do me the favor of reading—this is on page 42 of your Eight Great Smarts. Just read that paragraph if you don’t mind.
KOCH: I would love to.
“Does your son keep his eyes glued to his book when you ask him to help with the dishes? He may be word smart. Does your daughter struggle with obedience because she’s always asking why? She may be logic smart. Does your daughter doodle all over her notes rather than studying her notes? She may be picture smart. Does your son irritate others with his constant humming and finger tapping? He may be music smart. Do your children constantly move and touch everything? They may be body smart. Does your daughter pay so much attention to her cats that she doesn’t finish her homework? She may be nature smart. Does your son interrupt you constantly because he needs to know what you think about his ideas? He may be people smart. Does your daughter get lost in her thoughts and ignore your input? She may be self-smart.”
SMITH: Yeah. Two points that I want to make about that is that, again, reframing our kids’ behavior in ways so that we don’t see it as rebelliousness or indifference or sloth or selfishness but as a way that they are using their smart but maybe not quite fully mature in the use of that smart seems to me a real important lesson for parents.
KOCH: Exactly. What I wish someone would have told me is that they take it personally when their children aren’t able to follow through or do well or enjoy the same activity. Well, guess what, you know, they’re not you and they’re not even made in your image. They’re made in God’s. And so just because you would prefer things done a certain way doesn’t guarantee that a child will understand that. They can’t read your mind. We have to accept the differences. Different isn’t wrong. Different is different. So I want to give grace and I want to allow parents, I encourage parents and educators to give children alternative ways of being right. So this is how I would sweep the garage. This has worked for me. I’m very logic smart. I start in the upper left hand corner, you know, and I work my way down. How would you do it Benjamin? And let him do it successfully his way. That’s powerful. That lets them be who they are, I think. Now, granted, it needs to be done well. Parents have a right to a standard.
SMITH: You know, another thing that when I was reading that sort of surfaced for me as well is that, you know, I’ve got four kids. There are eight smarts. I recognized at least one kid in every one of those eight, which is to say that my kids or any of us, we don’t have just one smart. We might have two or three or four, we might have some degree of all eight of them. Is that accurate?
KOCH: Yes. I believe we’re born with the capacity to develop all eight. And the earlier they awakened, the greater the likelihood there’ll be a strength. And then if that interest that shows up is affirmed, celebrated, opportunities for the kids to grow more, then that’s where the interest becomes ability. I think a lot of parents, adults, older children who have had an eclectic upbringing will probably have five or six that they can readily identify, that they can readily go to. And then one or two or three that, you know, if push comes to shove, I can be smart in that way, but it’s not what I choose to do in my spare time, it really requires great energy and focus. And so, you know, at my age in my career, I don’t need to go there unless I’m really forced to and that that’s okay.
SMITH: One of the things that you told the group and you’ve said in the book and when you said it to this homeschool group, you almost heard an audible gasp come out of the group and that was this: that we should learn to love the kids we have and not the kids that we wished we had. Am I close?
KOCH: Amen. Very close. I want parents to raise the children they were given and not the children they wish they had. We all have dreams and ideas before we even conceive. And then you conceive—you have a boy or a girl and there’s a dream, you know, you were a soccer player, you wanted them to play soccer. You’re an accountant, you hope your son will be just like you and take over your business. Well, guess what? That may not be God’s plan. And so if they don’t feel accepted in their uniqueness, they will feel less than. They will feel broken and they may never achieve. And I do understand the challenge of that, but perfectionism is rooted in expectations that are not fair for the child. And that’s the power of this model, right? Get to know them and then celebrate who they are. And maybe you can become more like them and you can both enjoy the park.
SMITH: Kathy, I’m not exactly sure how to ask this question, but you said that the earlier you awaken a smart in a child, the more likely it is that that smart will grow and develop. So, let’s say I’m a parent, I’m listening to this and my kids are wherever they are in their development, but I sort of had this moment of realization, wow, I have not awakened the particular smarts in my kids. Maybe even have paralyzed them or I stifled them in some way. What can I do? What can I do about that?
KOCH: You know, I really appreciate that you asked that because if a parent has listened and believes paralysis has taken place—like be quiet, be quiet, you know, go sit down. The brain can be reawakened. It’s an elastic muscle so to speak and it’s never too late to go back and have some healing happen. Let me first say that. And let me say that awakening is as easy as a variety of toys and letting every kid play with trucks and towers and color. So it’s what kind of toys and activities, what kinds of books. Do I read nonfiction and fiction? Do I read books about nature, even if I’m not very nature smart myself? Because what if God created your son to be very nature smart and we don’t awaken that and then that child doesn’t get to do what God created that child to do. So, books, toys, what are we doing in our spare time? Do we go to the art museum and the science museum and the park and the playground? Do we go and serve at a nursing home?
I think service as a family is so powerful because we get to know each other really well when we get outside of ourselves and put others first. And we could develop as a family a ministry of music or a ministry of care at a nursing home. And what do we spend our money on? Really interesting question. Do we only buy music? Do we not buy picture books and pads of paper and smelly magic markers for our kids? Those are some of the things. One more I would say would be conversations about a variety of things, too. Do we at the dinner table and in the car talk about things that are unique? Do we talk about different people and even invite them into our homes as mentors for our kids?
SMITH: You know, there’s one other thing, Kathy, that you mentioned both in your book and in the presentation that kids sometimes need to hear from parents to have that paralyzed or that stifled smart awakened. And that is—
KOCH: I’m so sorry. Would you please forgive me? Kids have told me and teens have told me that that would be the number one way to reawaken their dream to try again. So to say, man, you know, you’re right. I was critical, way too quick. I did not listen fully. I am so sorry. And don’t excuse it. I had a headache. We don’t let our kids excuse their misbehavior. So, I love telling parents, let’s call sin sin. We’re imperfect people and let’s let our kids know that. So, you know, you’re right. I really didn’t listen to your whole story. I’m not even gonna tell you I was busy. I didn’t listen. You have a right to your disappointment. May I listen now? I’m so sorry that I misunderstood. I’m so sorry that I rushed you. I’m so sorry that I didn’t understand. I’m so sorry that I assumed. I’m so sorry. It’s so powerful, Warren. And kids tell me way too often that they don’t hear it. Because the kid’s perception is my parents think they’re perfect and, therefore, I have to be perfect.
SMITH: Kathy, I want to back you up and talk maybe a little bit more about your personal experience in all of this. I mean, you have an earned PhD. You’ve been studying this stuff for a long time, but what—and you talked a little bit about your early experience. That you were chatty Cathy in that your parents affirmed that gift in you rather than, you know, sent you away and said go shut up or do something else and that’s allowed you to blossom. But what else about your background got you interested in what you’re doing now and the way you are trying to help parents celebrate kids, which is the name of your organization.
KOCH: Right. Thanks for asking. You know, I loved school as a child. I was fulfilled there and it was easy. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the people there as well as the academic pursuit. I became a teacher of second graders because I loved teaching and I wanted them to embrace learning. Became a professor so others would do it even better. And I kept, though, coming back to the parents role, right? And the scripture says the parents will always be a child’s first teacher. And that’s really—my background. My parents were very, very strong parents. I come from a great family. My grandparents and my aunts and uncles and cousins, we were all really, really close and so I saw as a child, parents matter and I became in the education system more aware of the dismissed parent and the teacher as the power and that’s inappropriate, even though teachers are my heroes and good teachers are really important, certainly. I was raised by smart parents who loved my brother and me and got to know us and showed us the joy. They were music smart and they wanted us to have that. That’s part of it.
SMITH: Yeah, but they were not believers, right?
KOCH: They were not. I mean you actually—this is probably a story for another day—but they became believers very, very late in life.
KOCH: Yes, they did. Yes, they did. My dad trusted Christ right before he died of a massive, unexpected heart attack. It’s a really interesting story. And he had been shared—the gospel had been shared with him many, many times, including by his grandchildren who were devastated when he didn’t trust Christ in their encounter. I was raised well in church and so I thought as a child and a young adult that it was religion and it was church that saved you. And so when I experienced a variety as a college student, I figured out, hey, it can’t be church. There must be something deeper. And that’s when I sought out the truth of the holy word of God and praise God found Christ through an excellent pastor who listened to my questions.
SMITH: Yeah, wow. So but back to your—So you were not raised in a Christian home, but you were raised in a loving home.
KOCH: Absolutely. Very loving, very purposeful, very other-centered. My grandfather was mayor of my city growing up, so I bleed red, white, and blue. I come from a beautiful heritage of rah-rah-America. I went to Memorial Day and July 4th and the whole nine yards. And I want every other American to do that because shame on us that we do not support what could be once again. It angers me if you can probably tell that in my voice. So I was raised known and I was raised to believe. And what happened, Warren, when I started teaching second graders, I saw children broken. I saw children who—they did not think they could do it and they didn’t believe they were smart and their parents had already believed the lie that my child will never amount to anything and she’s seven years old. That really concerned me. And that’s what really began me to drive into this, okay, there’s something wrong here and where do these beliefs come from? And that’s where a lot of my own study and where the birth of Celebrate Kids came from.
SMITH: Now you also said something and, forgive me if I’m getting a little personal here, Kathy, but you said something, you don’t have children yourself.
KOCH: That’s correct.
SMITH: You’re not married.
KOCH: That’s correct.
SMITH: And you said for a long time you were afraid to admit that because here you are, you’re basically a parenting expert, right? You’re an expert on how to raise kids and you’ve got none and you felt like that if you admitted that you didn’t have kids, that it would maybe undermine your credibility. Is that—?
KOCH: Right. You know, you listened really well and it’s kind of funny because like I don’t like, I appreciate what you said that I’m a parenting expert. That’s very kind of you. I will not help you put your children to bed and I will not teach you how to change a diaper. And I can teach you about strong-willed children so I can help you with temper tantrums at that level. But I stay out of the territory I don’t have any authority in. There is no credibility for me to tell you about the pain of a child who’s rebellious because I haven’t experienced that. But I’m very objective with children. I study children and I know them and I interview them and I’ve worked hard. And so a lot of parents have said they’d like me as a speaker-author because I’m not going to tell you to do it the way I did it with my seven year old. And I know there’s a lot of speakers and authors who also don’t do that, praise God. My heart for kids is something I believe it’s a gift from God. And I’ll joke with you, if people ever do question my credibility, and it’s pretty rare that people approach me with that, but let me say that Jesus was not married and he was not a father and he spoke brilliant truth to husbands, wives, and parents. And so I believe God can gift us and equip us through a variety of circumstances. And I even want parents to believe that about their children. And I want parents to say, if you marry, not when you marry. And I want parents to raise their children to be content alone, not lonely and comfortable with who they are in their self smart times because they’ll be a better life partner if the Lord would choose for them to marry. I have a lot more I could say about that.
SMITH: I want to maybe do a little lightning round of questions. You read that passage from your book about, you know, if your child is misbehaving in this way, perhaps they’re word smart or body smart or, you know, whatever it might be. And just to go into that a little bit more. If somebody listening has a child who is, you know, really struggling with either behavior or maybe acting out in inappropriate ways or, you know, an inability to concentrate. And I realize that you can’t diagnose a hypothetical kid on the radio, but what are some of the questions that the parents should be asking to try to get at what is going on with their child?
KOCH: That is so interesting. I want parents to listen longer and observe more intentionally before they speak. So is there a pattern to their behavior? Is there a time of day? Is there a person that they’re obnoxious with but the rest of the day they’re never obnoxious? Are they whiny and clingy when they’re tired or when daddy’s about to get home and they’re a daddy’s girl and they can’t wait for daddy to get home. So there’s often patterns of their misbehavior that we miss out on because we don’t observe carefully and listen longer.
SMITH: We don’t observe carefully because it’s in that moment all about us and we’re just wanting to get the kid to quit doing whatever they’re doing? Is that it?
KOCH: That’s part of it. And we’re busy. You know, the ground beef is being cooked on the stove or whatever. Totally respect that. And then ask yourself which intelligence is giving rise to their choice to misbehave? Are they logic smart and that’s why they’re feeling out of control right now because we have not answered their questions about what’s happening after dinner? And we know that we’re stressing them out. Let’s own that and take some responsibility for putting our kids at stress. Let’s answer the question about what’s happening at seven and let them relax. Have we never allowed our kids to color? And so their stressed because they haven’t been creative in their picture smart way that day, and can we provide for them that opportunity of success. That would be so powerful. And I don’t want parents to paralyze the gift that they have. If I would have been raised, be quiet, shut up, go find something to do, would have been paralyzed. The same thing happens to so many kids. And I get it, but I want parents to observe the child and celebrate the good.
And here’s the thing: we say the kids, your choice to be logic smart right now is dishonoring to me. I’ve answered your question. Go to your room or go pick up your toys. We need not be manipulated by our whiny, complaining children who want to be happy all the time. That’s a whole other speech.
SMITH: Well, yeah, it is a whole other speech and one that by the way, you get at a little bit in your book Teens and Screens and you talk about the fact that we have such short attention spans that we that we’ve forgotten how to persevere.
SMITH: We have forgotten how—that something’s just really require focused attention over a period of time for us to understand and to get.
KOCH: That’s so true. And that’s one of the reasons in this book Eight Great Smarts I do talk about character development because it’s not appropriate for our kids to think they’re so smart they don’t need to persevere, have initiative, be diligent, try harder. I don’t want them to be egotistical and prideful. I’m smarter than you are. No, the book is about how am I smart, not how smart am I. And I want kids to understand that smart people persevere and smart people try again. And smart people do write a rough draft before the final copy. It is not—that would be stupid not to. It’s smart to put forth the effort.
SMITH: Well, you know, this emphasis throughout the book on character was also something that really resonated with me because as somebody that did well in school, I had the word smart and the logic smart that basically meant that, you know, I was going to probably do well in school because I had those two. A lot of the other smarts my wife and kids will tell you I don’t have. But I had those two. But I’ve also, because of that, experienced that feeling of panic whenever those smarts were not adequate for the task before me and the temptation to cheat and take a shortcut or to do something that was behavior that was less than full integrity was very tempting. That if there hadn’t been character development alongside the development of my smarts, could’ve led me down a path that would have created a lot of trouble for me.
KOCH: Totally. So, some of the things I think are really significant is that kids understand all smarts matter and we teach them to go to the smart they need. If we can help kids identify, like you’re able to say, if I’m walking into this situation, I’m probably gonna need to be people smart tonight. Okay, I’m going to hang with my best friend. She’s nature smart. I bet she’s going to want to sit outside. I’m going to have to handle that even though I don’t want to sweat and mosquitoes really irritate me. I’m going to go there because I’m gonna put people first. So we can help kids and adults prepare for success in a variety of different circumstances. I think that’s really empowering. We can accept who we are. We need to accept weaknesses and challenges as well as those strengths. And this is one of the reasons that I want parents to awaken and strengthen all eight as much as possible so that we’re not as commonly in a situation where we can’t rely on some smart to get us through either with joy or with ability. Make sense?
SMITH: It does, yeah. Bottom line, what do you want people to take away from your book Eight Great Smarts.
KOCH: I want them to know that they’re smarter than they probably think they are because a lot of adults have been burned by the system or negative influences.
So I delight when people read the book or hear me speak and go, man, I am smarter than I thought I was. My brother wasn’t just the smart one. I ran faster than him, but I was also just as smart in these ways. That’s really important to me.
And then I want parents to delight in studying their children and getting to know who they are and why they are the who they are. What does it mean that my child is word and logic and people? What does it mean that my daughter is nature smart and logic smart? Might she be a missionary to Africa someday, to invent the seed to grow twice as fast so we can double the crop in a rainy season and take care of hungry people? If we can study our kids and find out how they’re smart and then ask the Spirit to show us why, that’s powerful.