Treating Your Child as The Genius They Already Are

Parenting 101

"You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, the days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day." Psalm 139:14 MSG


According to the Webster Dictionary there is quite the range in definitions of a "genius"... from one having an amazing creative ability, to having a high IQ, to another with a "a peculiar, distinctive, or identifying character or spirit".

Since the term "genius" is apparently available for interpretation... I would like to encourage all who are reading today in what I believe... YOUR child was born a genius! Your child has been given from God a natural talent or a gifting of their very own, and when we treat them as "geniuses" we might just begin seeing "genius" type results!


It wasn't too long ago that we were taught mostly that kids were nothing more than egocentric parasites, that we as parents needed to HUMBLE our children through rough words and anti-vain speech. Telling our kids to "keep to themselves" and reminding them that they are nothing, know nothing, and as long as they think about nothing great - they will survive in the reality of the world.

How WRONG we were! Even as I write this I am reminded of Jesus' first teaching episode in the temple at twelve years old, and his mother reprimanding Him. In which He responded to her, "Woman don't you know I am about my FATHER'S business?" This is KEY... we as parents MUST realize that our children are here for the Father's business (just like Jesus was), and that they have been created for His own purpose. Telling them continually that they will amount to nothing would be robbing them of their God-given potential.


As long as I can remember, I have always called our oldest son "Mr. President". I have always been amazed by him and the nobility that he carried from birth. He had a huge smile and always had his head held high. I would call him "Mr. President" seeing the specialness about him which I totally admired.

I will never forget walking into the bank one day when he was around two years old and hearing him shout out... "HEY EVERYBODY!" Then he smiled and waved to what seemed like "his people"! I learned from that point on that stifling his outgoing nature would have not just killed him, it would have killed me. What did I do? I smiled and waved too!

This exercise in embracing his outgoing and extremely personable nature by encouraging it instead of belittling it, made me a better mother and person. When our children are treated as "genius" (regardless of our own personal childhood hang-ups) forces us to HAVE to put away our own insecurities, and trust that God has a plan greater than just for ourselves! At 22 years old I would have NEVER walked into a quiet and stoic bank and shouted "HI EVERYBODY!" But my son DID and at just two years old, and I bet he made everyone's day!


Regrettably, I haven't always remembered that my children were "geniuses in the making". I have had my moments of awe and shock at some of the 'dumb' things that they have done. The worst is probably when I have clucked, shaken my head, or disappointedly glared at them when they were in error. While we make it a practice to NEVER call them negative names, those disapproving glances can cause just as much pain! We must as parents curb these looks of disapproval and maintain our outward smiles ESPECIALLY in front of their friends. Pulling your child aside and asking them why they did what they did is much better for you AND for them. You can begin your sentences by asking:
  • "Please help me to understand why you... (xyz)"
  • "Did you know what you were doing when you did... (xyz)"
Don't forget that every time a correction needs to be made a praise MUST also be given! This is called the 'sandwich' effect. An example of the sandwich effect could be this:


"Hey sweetie, can I talk to you for a minute? Today I was really proud of you when you took care of your little sister the way you did. You were gentle and kind with her, did you know when you left with your friends without saying "Goodbye" to her it really hurt her feelings? I bet you would MAKE HER DAY if you went over to her and told her you were sorry about that... maybe you could even read her a story? You know she thinks you are THE BEST! Me TOO!"

When we 'sandwich' bad news or reprimands as our way of dealing with people, we are appealing to their nobler motive and encouraging change versus bringing on a personal attack. This type of conversation takes practice, but as you remember to calm down and 'sandwich' the correction you are hoping to see, you will begin to learn very quickly that CHILDREN ARE CAPTIVE AUDIENCES to their parents and it is how we as parents deal with this audience that determines their inner genius or dunce... it really is all up to us!


Jessica Heilman is the Founder of Wholehearted Ministries and is also mom to The Cookie Boys. Jessica has been a student of Psychology, Philosophy and Theology for nearly 25 years. Jessica founded WHM in 2008 while in Bible College. Jessica and her husband Jeff have been married 21 years. Jeff and Jessica live in the Silicon Valley with their seven children and their dog Kennedy.This article was originally published via Wholehearted Ministries Oct 12, 2012

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