Dear Grandparenting: Grandparents like to boast about their grandchildren. It becomes a game of “can you top this?” Someone starts off bragging. Next thing you know, someone else makes their grandchild sound like the coming of the world’s next Internet genius.
We don’t have any genius superstars in our family. My grandchildren are blessed with common sense but don’t make it habit to shine in class. My oldest grandchild didn’t score well on tests to show if he’s ready for college. Does he have any chance for success or is this like the kiss of death? Mort R. Smith, Tucson, Arizona
Dear Mort: Academically gifted high school students are not necessarily the runaway winners in life, as anyone who attended their high school reunion can tell you.
Some kids peak in high school, but many that excel early on cannot cope with adversity when the going gets tough. Tests can measure academic aptitudes, but they cannot take the measure of a grandchild’s heart, drive or intestinal fortitude.
Motivation is the master aptitude. Call it what you will — resilience, character, guts, a willingness to pay the price. These are the best predictors of a grandchild’s future success.
Can grandparents nurture motivation? You bet, according to the National Association of School Psychologists. The trick is to engage grandchildren in activities that give them so-called intrinsic rewards — activities of the child’s choosing they find pleasing, challenging enough to keep them interested but not so hard it overwhelms them.
It’s a confidence builder. Grandchildren with intrinsic motivation generally are more satisfied and self-assured. But without it, they are more inclined to complain and compete for attention.
Grand remark of the week
Annie Thomas from Kingsport, Tennessee weighed in with this exchange between her husband Jack and grandson Liam.
“You are not allowed to run around inside this house half-naked with no shirt on,” said Jack, wagging his finger.
“You walk around with your head totally naked and nobody says anything,” Liam shot back.
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.