Q: Both of my girls have been tested and have asked what their IQ scores are. We told them they did very well, but should we tell them their scores?
A: You haven't mentioned your daughters' ages, but regardless, psychologists usually recommend just giving children a general idea of their abilities until they are adults. Your comments that they did very well or something like "you're in the above average range" should work. It's also important to explain that IQ is not really a measure of intelligence, and there really isn't a true measure of children's abilities. The scores measure a combination of ability and what children have learned from their environment, so the scores are good predictors of success in school. An even better predictor is a child's willingness to work hard and their love of learning or motivation. We do use IQ to help us understand children's strengths and weaknesses, and you can certainly share those areas with your children as long as they realize that those also can change and that sometimes weaknesses can be developed into strengths.
The big problem with sharing IQ scores is that children tend to think they're permanent or "engraved in stone". Thus they may either feel inadequate if they're lower than they'd like, or they could feel pressured to be perfect or smartest if they are high and make the false assumption they won't have to work hard. Either direction seems to cause children problems.
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Boy Helps Others too Much
Q: What can I do to help my son stop helping his friends too much? I am asking this question because my son's trainer said that he shouldn't worry so much about others and should focus on himself. At home, I love when my son helps others, as does all my family. I am baffled by the trainer's criticism.
A: Of course, it's excellent to teach children to help others, but it's problematic if they help others to avoid their own responsibilities or they help others who don't want the help. It's my guess that your son's trainer is concerned about one of these two possibilities and so would you be in your own family.
For the first example, if your son offered to help you clean the basement, but you knew he should be completing his homework, you would either wait to do the basement until he has time or let him know he could join you after his homework was done. For the second example, if he has a younger sister who is trying to ride her bike independently, you might not enjoy his insisting on holding the bike or his continuous direction or commentary on how she should ride. You can see there are good ways to help but also ways that are actually harmful. If helping others serves to avoid personal responsibility or causes another person to feel inadequate, it is not good help.
I can only imagine that your son's trainer is expecting him to learn and practice a skill that your son is avoiding or is helping other children who prefer independence. Either way, since you certainly want your son to be an appropriate helper, discussing this a little with the trainer can help you interpret his feedback in a way to assist your son in understanding the problem while still supporting his trainer. If your son succeeds in getting you to ally with him against his trainer, he will be disrespectful toward his trainer and may continue the inappropriate behavior his trainer is observing. Your son is probably a terrific kid, who only needs a little guidance to encourage his perseverance as well as his kindness.
For free newsletters about kindness, having a united front, and/or social skills, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope for each newsletter to address below. Dr. Sylvia B. Rimm is the director of the Family Achievement Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, a clinical professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and the author of many books on parenting. More information on raising kids is available at www.sylviarimm.com. Please send questions to: Sylvia B. Rimm on Raising Kids, P.O. Box 32, Watertown, WI 53094 or email@example.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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