Smart Parenting for Smart Kids: Nurturing Your Child's True Potential


WINNER! Mom's Choice Gold Award for parenting books — Mom's Choice Awards: The best in family-friendly media

"My kid is smart, but..."

It takes more than school smarts to create a fulfilling life. In fact, many bright children face ...

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Smart Parenting for Smart Kids: Nurturing Your Child's True Potential

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WINNER! Mom's Choice Gold Award for parenting books — Mom's Choice Awards: The best in family-friendly media

"My kid is smart, but..."

It takes more than school smarts to create a fulfilling life. In fact, many bright children face special challenges:

  • Some are driven by perfectionism;
  • Some are afraid of effort, because they're used to instant success;
  • Some routinely butt heads with authority figures;
  • Some struggle to get along with their peers;
  • Some are outwardly successful but just don't feel good about themselves.

This practical and compassionate book explains the reasons behind these struggles and offers parents do-able strategies to help children cope with feelings, embrace learning, and build satisfying relationships. Drawing from research as well as the authors’ clinical experience, it focuses on the essential skills children need to make the most of their abilities and become capable, confident, and caring people.

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  • Eileen Kennedy-Moore
    Eileen Kennedy-Moore  

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“This book is a literal Godsend. Parents will find great wisdom in its pages.”
Stephen R. Covey, author, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“A smart, deeply perceptive and important book.” 
Wendy Mogel, PhD, author, The Blessing of a Skinned Knee

"This book helps parents see how to encourage their children to develop as whole people with feelings, ideas, and the ability to cope with the occasional disappointment too."
Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, PhD, author of Einstein Never Used Flash Cards

“Filled with vignettes and strategies for raising smart kids to become healthy, happy and contributing adults.”
Vicki Abeles, Producer, Race to Nowhere

Kirkus Reviews
Two psychologists offer a perceptive guide to help smart children succeed academically and socially. Kennedy-Moore (The Unwritten Rules of Friendship, 2003, etc.) and Lowenthal evaluate the roadblocks that frequently arise for smart children between the ages of 6 and 12. The authors identify "seven fundamental challenges" faced by smart children--and, of course, their parents. They use those challenges to look at how parents can help intelligent children succeed not just in school, but in life, too. Each chapter is devoted to analyzing a challenge: tempering perfectionism, building connection, managing sensitivity, handling cooperation and competition, dealing with authority, developing motivation and finding joy. The authors discuss why each is important for children's development, aided by vignettes drawn from exhaustive research and their psychology practices. The result is a treasure trove of strategies parents can use to help their children interact with peers, teachers and family members. They also address how children can combat their insecurities in a way that will generate "inner strength and outward compassion." The authors suggest conversations parents can have with their kids, activities they can engage in together, and songs parents can sing to help lead their children to new intellectual and emotional growth. Near the end of each chapter are suggestions for how parents can model healthy behaviors for their kids; the well-structured chapters then close with a short summary. The authors are also attuned to the nuances that can affect children's relationships, even noting how the "increase in technology-related play" has altered children's social lives. Charts and graphs help make the authors' approach truly "solution-focused," and the vignettes will be achingly familiar for most parents. Although the book targets the parents of bright children, the lessons herein will be relevant to any parent. This forgiving, intelligent look at raising smart children will help parents teach their kids that there's more to life than academic achievement.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780470640050
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 3/1/2011
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 132,576
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Eileen Kennedy-Moore, PhD, is a child and family clinical psychologist in Princeton, New Jersey. She is the author or coauthor of several books on children's feelings and friendships.

Mark S. Lowenthal, PsyD, has helped many children, teens, and their families during his twenty-two years as a clinical psychologist. His private practice is in Maplewood, New Jersey.

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Table of Contents

Note to the Reader.


Introduction: Rethinking Potential.

1 Tempering Perfectionism: What Is “Good Enough”?

Michael: Focusing on flaws.

Kirsten: Deflecting blame.

Sam: Avoiding activities at which he doesn’t excel.

Angela: Feeling inadequate.

2 Building Connection: How Does Your Child Reach Out to Others?

Andrew: Seeking an audience rather than a friend.

Clay: Avoiding joining the group.

Amalia: Feeling rejected by peers.

3 Managing Sensitivity: How Does Your Child Handle Criticism, Conflict, and Disappointment?

Mario: Perceiving betrayal.

Jessica: Balking at constructive feedback.

Samir: Chafing at a change of plans.

Collin: Shouldering the world’s woes.

4 Handling Cooperation and Competition: How Does Your Child Fit in a Group?

Steven: Insisting on his way.

Anita: Being a sore loser.

Misha: Fearing competition.

Craig: Dealing with competition in the family.

5 Dealing with Authority: How Does Your Child Respond to Those in Charge?

Lisa: Being blind to authority.

Nicholas: Making everything an argument.

Stephanie: Fretting about adults’ anger.

6 Developing Motivation: What Matters to Your Child?

Ethan: Avoiding schoolwork.

Jared: Complaining that schoolwork is boring.

Diane: Not applying herself in school.

7 Finding Joy: What Makes Your Child Feel Happy?

Monica: Finding fault instead of fun.

Conner: Searching for personal meaning.

Conclusion: The Pressure to Perform Versus the Power to Grow.

Selected References and Recommended Reading.

About the Authors.


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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2012

    Reviewed by Alice D. for Readers Favorite "Smart Parenting

    Reviewed by Alice D. for Readers Favorite

    "Smart Parenting for Smart Kids" is one of those perfect books that all parents of elementary school age children should own, read, and keep on their bedside stands to refer to daily. Authors Eileen Kennedy-Moore and Mark Lowenthal are highly knowledgeable in the field of working with families regarding their children's education and it shows in her clear, informative writing as well as the index and bibliography at book's ending. Aware that modern day parents stress over too many things, including signing their toddlers up for gym to develop gross motor skills, Authors Kennedy-Moore and Lowenthal so that parents will know how to act, think, and talk with their children in a way that will develop the child's inner strengths, their capacity to learn and grow and become their own person. The give strategies to help children temper their self-criticism, to be less afraid of trying and to be brave enough to make mistakes. How much better a reference for good parenting is there than this?

    "Smart Parenting for Smart Kids" is a well-written and well-edited book that should be in the hands of all parents as ready reference tool. The authors offer page after page of excellent suggestions on parenting that can actually be applied in everyday life. The write, "To learn you have to be brave enough to make mistakes" and in dealing with the defensive child, the state, "Excuses take away our power to make things better." This book will help parents and children through many different situations including competition, bullying, completing school work, and getting along with other children. A perfect book for modern-day parents!

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  • Posted May 10, 2012

    Reviewed by Anne B. for Readers Favorite "Smart Parenting

    Reviewed by Anne B. for Readers Favorite

    "Smart Parenting For Smart Kids: Nurturing Your Child’s True Potential" by Eileen Kennedy-Moore and Mark S. Lowenthal is well worth reading. In my judgment this book is unsurpassed in the long list of parenting books on the market.

    This book covers a wide variety of parenting topics. They begin with the issue perfectionism. Children that strive for perfectionism tend to be self-critical and they even offer suggestions for dealing with this concern. This chapter offers assistance in encouraging your child to develop friendships and working on tasks that they do not excel in. Many children do not know how to deal with criticism, disappointment, or conflict, however, parents can assist their children in increasing their skills in this area. Various other topics covered are: dealing with authority, developing motivation, and learning to cooperate. Last but certainly not least is helping your child to find their joy. A child with a positive attitude will be emotionally happier. As parents we all want our children to be happy and well adjusted. Are we as parents short circuiting that possibility with our expectations?

    Authors Eileen Kennedy-Moore and Mark S. Lowenthal write in a manner that is easy to read and understand. They add just enough humor to their text to make it interesting and never dry. I love the examples in each chapter. This book is broken into well-organized sections that never overwhelm. The authors use COMMON-SENSE methods that are insightful and practical. I so wish this book was available when I was raising my children. Smart Parenting For Smart Kids would make a great baby-shower gift.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2012

    Reviewed by Stephanie D. for Readers Favorite "Smart Paren

    Reviewed by Stephanie D. for Readers Favorite

    "Smart Parenting for Smart Kids" by clinical psychologists Eileen Kennedy-Moore and Mark S Lowenthal, opens with talking about the ‘child improvement industry’ that has grown up so that all kids can fulfill their ‘potential’. But what is potential? We learn that it’s not about impressive accomplishments, but is the capacity to grow. We live in a narcissistic age where everyone seeks admiration through being good at this or excelling in that. Such an attitude is not healthy for our children. We all need to make mistakes in order to learn. The authors offer their alternative of seven core challenges that each child faces: tempering perfectionism, building connection, managing sensitivity, handling cooperation and competition, dealing with authority, developing motivation and finding happiness. Each of these is discussed through offering strategies for parents to adopt and finishes with a ‘show the way’ section with direct advice on how we adults can set the best possible example in this particular area for our kids.

    Four components of smart parenting emerge which center on compassion, setting limits, being committed to supporting our kids, and having faith in their abilities. This is a book I know I shall be constantly coming back to in the future as my children have their ups and downs. This is exactly the way the authors want us to use it. It’s about the long term and steady progress. I’ve already seen that some of my reactions to these in the past haven’t been the most productive so, like my kids, I need to adjust some of my own approaches and attitudes to help them live the most fulfilling lives they can. The book has an index, which is a fantastic feature.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2012

    Reviewed by Kristie I. for Readers Favorite “Smart Parent

    Reviewed by Kristie I. for Readers Favorite

    “Smart Parenting for Smart Kids,” written by Eileen Kennedy-Moore and Mark S. Lowenthal is a comprehensive guide for finding a child’s true potential. The authors begin the book discussing the word “potential,” pressure that is placed on our children, challenges that parents face and explaining why they wrote the book. The book is then split into seven chapters, each one addressing one of the challenges. For example, chapter three focuses on managing sensitivity and chapter six developing motivation. Each chapter includes questions, general information and further explanation and discussion of the challenge, vignettes and strategies.

    I found this book to be an excellent resource and guide as well as thought-provoking. Each chapter is filled with a lot of information; however it is not overwhelming. The chapters are split into well-defined sections making the book user/reader-friendly and there are bulleted lists and charts throughout as well which are great additions and useful. The vignettes interspersed throughout the book were probably my favorite aspect as they provide real-life examples and also help the reader to not feel alone with dealing with a problem. Also, the strategies that are included are practical and ones that can be easily attempted. The information is well-researched and reinforced by other sources making this is a worthwhile read and resource for parents. It is not a book that is written in a judgmental manner or intended to cause the reader to feel as if he or she is not an adequate parent as it is a gentle approach and really a guide book reinforcing current parenting techniques and offering new suggestions that may be successful with the reader’s child.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2012

    Reviewed by Joy H. for Readers Favorite Smart kids not only com

    Reviewed by Joy H. for Readers Favorite

    Smart kids not only come from what they learn in school, it’s what they learn at home that helps them face some the challenges they go through. The authors wrote this book to parents and guardians of children to help them face some of these challenges and issues. Parents will find ways to guide children toward developing their inner strength and outward empathy they need. Throughout this book, the reader will find different strategies for helping children deal with the pressures they face, learn to cope with their feelings, build better and lasting relationships and find contentment in who they are.

    When I first started reading this book, I thought some of the suggestions were just too simple, but as I kept reading, the words of this book captured by attention more and more. The authors give many examples of how a child may express their feelings to their parents, and a number of different ways for parents to deal with their child and give valuable answers to help the child deal with their situation.

    This book is set up to where you don’t need to read the entire book at one time. You can go to the chapter that deals with what your child needs help with. You, as a reader will be surprised at how simple some of the tips and ideas are, but they are so valuable, and the will work. And I know this because I practiced a few of these on my 3year old niece. It’s all in knowing how to react around kids and what to say to them.

    I highly recommend this book to every parent. You will appreciate how both authors expertly tackle these issues with the compassion they have for children.

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  • Posted February 29, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    one of the best parenting books

    I am always on the lookout for good books on parenting, both as a parent and as an educational consultant. When I saw Smart Parenting for Smart Kids I knew I wanted to read it. My children are middle-graders with a new set of challenges from their toddler years, and I am a working mom with new challenges in my household management, parenting included! However, I didn't want a book on how to be a parent. I wanted one that helped me tackle specific issues as I helped my children to succeed in life. This was the perfect book for me.

    Right off, I liked the tone in this book. It was intelligent, yet compassionate, chock-full of parenting insight and child psychology, yet practical and very readable. This book took me a long time to finish reading because it needs to be absorbed and it made me think a lot. It made me question my actions and my motives and had me observing more closely my children and their reactions toward my response whether positive or negative.

    I'm on the bandwagon of parents who want to offer their kids good opportunities for learning, immersing our family in music lessons, extracurricular activities, sports, volunteering, homework supervision and so on. But I've learned to watch out for stress signals and to balance our family life so as not to be over-scheduled. Yet, I still struggle with this and reading Smart Parenting has assuaged my fears that my kids would be left out if not fully involved in activities that help them grow in some aspect of their life.

    The chapters I focused on the most were: Tempering Perfectionism, which had me re-evaluating the way I supervise homework (I'm the perfectionist, not my kids!); Managing Sensitivity, which was so insightful for me on so many levels (both my daughter and I are sensitive); Handling Cooperation and Competition, which is helping me deal with my son's competitiveness; and Finding Joy, which made me realize how important it is to make small changes that will result in my family experiencing more joy and happiness.

    Throughout the chapters, there are scenes with dialogue (some of which will sound so familiar) followed by strategies that parents can implement to deal with that particular situation or behaviour. These vignettes easily had me identify if this was a problem I had encountered (not just as a parent but also in my field) and how I could deal with the social, emotional and intellectual needs of my children and clients. I learned a lot about myself, not only as a parent but also as a person. Sometimes, helping your child succeed means changing the way you parent—like not correcting your child's homework!

    I can't stress enough how helpful and insightful Smart Parenting is for any parent who wants to nurture their children's true potential without heaping expectations on them (ours or that of society) that can be detrimental in the long run. All parents, of course, want the best for their children, and whether we admit it or not, we do have expectations for them. But each child is an individual with a complex emotional, social and intellectual make-up. Smart Parenting guides parents in understanding their children and working alongside them to maturity and success according to their abilities and desires.

    I highly recommend this intelligent book to all parents who feel the stress of helping their kids' achieve, to educators, social workers and teachers. It's an excellent resource and a keeper on my bookshelf. It' a book I will refer to again and agai

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  • Posted January 10, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    encouraging and empowering...

    Reviewed by Laurie Gray for Readers Favorite

    "Smart Parenting for Smart Kids: Nurturing Your Child’s True Potential" by Eileen Kennedy-Moore, PhD, and Mark S. Lowenthal, PsyD, explains how and why children struggle and distills “smart” parenting into four essential components: a compassionate ability to view the world through our children’s eyes; the confidence to set judicious limits; a commitment to turn toward our children more often than away; and faith in our children’s ability to grow and learn. The authors identify seven fundamental challenges, devoting a chapter to each: Tempering Perfectionism, Building Connection, Managing Sensitivity, Handling Cooperation and Competition, Dealing with Authority, Developing Motivation, and Finding Joy. Drawing upon their own professional training and experience, they offer insightful strategies and research-based solutions, demonstrating practical application through the use of two, three or four specific vignettes that represent typical behavior issues in each chapter. The book includes an index and an extensive selection of recommended reading for both parents and professionals.

    This is one of the most encouraging and empowering parenting books I have encountered. There is no elaborate system of rewards and punishments to “fix” children by controlling and manipulating them into conformity to our desired outcomes. Instead, the strategies are the ones we can use to “parent” ourselves, turning us into positive examples of the behavior we desire for our children and giving us the “parenting” experience we need to parent our children more successfully. Dr. Kennedy-Moore and Dr. Lowenthal emphasize that a child’s true potential is not in performance and achievement, but in the capacity for personal growth and life-long learning innate in every child. I highly recommend this practical guide to all parents who want to cultivate their children’s inner strength and outward compassion and help their children mould their own meaningful and satisfying lives.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2011

    Valuable Book

    "Smart Parenting for Smart Kids the book by Eileen Kennedy-Moore PhD with Co author Mark S. Lowenthal PsyD is a valuable, practical and highly sensible guide to not only nurturing your child's true potential, but also handling the practical principles of being a more effective parent. The authors deftly handle many vital issues including perfectionism, socialization, conflicts and disappointments, cooperation and competition, motivation, responding to authority, and finding joy in life. This is a book that provides parents with the essential tangible tools they require to help their children solve everyday issues today that will help them to become a better and wiser person tomorrow." Stevanne Auerbach, PhD. author Smart Play/Smart Toys and Dr Toy's Guide

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  • Posted June 10, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Mom's Choice Awards Recipient!

    Smart Parenting for Smart Kids is a recipient of the prestigious Mom's Choice Award. The Mom's Choice Awards honors excellence in family-friendly media, products and services. An esteemed panel of judges includes education, media and other experts as well as parents, children, librarians, performing artists, producers, medical and business professionals, authors, scientists and others. A sampling of the panel members includes: Dr. Twila C. Liggett, ten-time Emmy-winner, professor and founder of PBS's Reading Rainbow; Julie Aigner-Clark, Creator of Baby Einstein and The Safe Side Project; Jodee Blanco, and New York Times best-selling Author; LeAnn Thieman, motivational speaker and coauthor of seven Chicken Soup For The Soul books. Parents and educators look for the Mom's Choice Awards seal in selecting quality materials and products for children and families.

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