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 Dear Dr. Phil:

My child Brook is not like other children in the neighbourhood or the classroom. I'm worried. Brook's abilities, interests, and attitudes are different. Can you give me any advice to help me?

Worried in Windsor

Dear Worried in Windsor,

    This is a common concern many parents are expressing these days. Parents habitually have a tendency to compare their own children with other children in abilities, personality, and interests; even though they know that each child is different. It is difficult for me to discuss the issues that are contributing to how Brooke is acting and feeling because I do not have tangible facts about Brooke, for example her age, grade level and interests, but I can certainly provide general ideas, concepts, and theories for you to consider. 

    To really understand individual differences among students one must focus on intelligence and ability. One of the leading experts in this area is Howard Gardner. Gardner's theory argues that intelligence, particularly as it is traditionally defined, does not sufficiently encompass the wide variety of abilities humans display. We all know of children and students who didn't fit the mold; the students were bright for example, but didn't excel on tests. Gardner claims that there are eight different kinds of intelligence.  He also states that we should focus on what a student can do well, instead of dwelling on what they can’t do.  This idea of “Multiple Intelligence” has enabled many struggling parents and teachers to take a different approach.  It has also helped them to teach and evaluate children in new and better ways.

 The 8 different kinds of intelligence as stated by Gardner include;

bulletLinguistic intelligence: sensitivity to the meaning and order of words.
bulletLogical-mathematical intelligence: ability in mathematics and other complex logical systems.
bulletMusical intelligence: the ability to understand and create music. Musicians, composers and dancers show a heightened musical intelligence.
bulletSpatial intelligence: the ability to "think in pictures," to perceive the visual world accurately, and recreate (or alter) it in the mind or on paper. Spatial intelligence is highly developed in artists, architects, designers and sculptors.
bulletBodily-kinesthetic intelligence: the ability to use one's body in a skilled way, for self-expression or toward a goal. Mimes, dancers, basketball players, and actors are among those who display bodily-kinesthetic intelligence.
bulletInterpersonal intelligence: an ability to perceive and understand other individuals -- their moods, desires, and motivations. Political and religious leaders, skilled parents and teachers, and therapists use this intelligence.
bulletIntrapersonal intelligence: an understanding of one's own emotions. Some novelists and or counselors use their own experience to guide others.

   Another popular approach to thinking about intelligence from a practical perspective is Robert Sternberg’s “Triarchic” Theory of Human Intelligence. This theory involves three facets of intelligence; Analytical, Creative and Practical. Analytical intelligence is similar to the standard psychometric definition of intelligence, ie, academic problem solving. The second facet, Creative intelligence as explained by Sternberg, is the ability which allows people to think creatively and that which allows people to adjust creatively and effectively to new situations. The final component is Practical intelligence and involves the ability to grasp, understand and deal with everyday tasks.

    As you can see, these theories are good starting points and examples of how every child is different and allows us to look at their individual strengths and weaknesses and what areas of intelligence they need to improve on. It is likely that Brooke excels in certain areas but not in others. It is critical for you as a mother to not judge Brooke and view her behavior as abnormal. You must empathize with Brooke and let her see that just because her abilities and behavior are different than those in the neighborhood and classroom, she is just as special and important as every other child. I would advise sitting down with Brooke and having a real ‘heart to heart’.  You need to be aware of what concerns and frustrations she has. For all we know at this stage, Brooke may be extremely gifted and capable.  She may find it hard to relate to her peers and may be bored at school.  At this stage I feel that it is essential that you, Brooke and her teacher all sit down together and find a solution collaboratively. Learn more about Brooke so you can understand her better. Encourage her to talk to you about her feelings. This will promote closeness and create a stronger bond.

 Good Luck,

 Dr. Phil

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 Group 205

Ardeshir Assadi, Georgia Galt, Robyn Jossul, Tammy Tran, Dan Lumley, Heather Tupling

Group 201

Dear: Worried in Windsor,

            Please do not fret about Brooke. Students are all different in many aspects of lives. According to John Dewey, all children differ in many aspects of life including: temperament, enthusiasm, distractibility, motivation, and prior knowledge in different subjects, just to name a few. Therefore, if Brooke is lacking in one of the aspects listed above, it is normal as all children are not the same and we all develop at different speeds. Brooke may just be lagging behind those in her   community and school, but it does not necessarily mean that there is anything to worry about.

            We have to be optimistic here and look at the situation as wonderfully rich instead of hopeless, as you need to show Brooke that you are there for him/her. Furthermore, it is important that you understand that although Brooke may be displaying underachievement in      certain areas he/she could have strengths in others and it is important to focus on the strengths more so than the weaknesses. To improve Brooke’s weaknesses, you could partner the strengths with the weaknesses as Brooke’s strengths could provide a model for the weaknesses. For example, if Brooke is strong musically they could listen to a song while following along with the lyrics to assist in the weaker area of reading. Howard Gardner, a famous psychologist, has identified eight forms of intelligence. These consist of: logical-mathematical, visual-spatial, linguistic, musical, naturalist, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and bodily-kinesthetic. With having eight different forms of intelligence, Brooke will be strong in at least one of them. Brooke may not be the strongest person when it comes to school, interests, or attitudes, but he/she will be strong in at least one form of intelligence.

            Remember, an area that Brooke is strong in would be what he/she enjoys doing the most, so we need to be monitoring the activities Brooke is doing so we can learn from it. Furthermore, we need to remember that talents are not ingrained, but acquired by practice so experience and practice is what leads to talent. To determine Brooke’s talents, look at the desires to develop it further which include enjoyment, valuing, and external support. If Brooke receives no support for doing a certain activity, he/she will no longer to continue to do that activity which brings us back to being supportive of

Text Box: his/her decisions. Below is a chart that depicts the factors that contribute to the development of a talent.









  If none of the above seems to improve Brooke’s case or if you are having doubts, you could go to a psychologist and get an assessment done. However, before doing that I would talk to Brooke as he/she may know that these differences exist and maybe just talking about them would help the situation as it would show that you care about him/her.   

            It is important that you praise effort rather than intelligence because if children believe they can improve their abilities through hard work they are more apt to put forth the necessary effort that is required to succeed. Keep in mind that there are famous people in our world who have conquered their disadvantages and these include: Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, and John Irving. So just remember that if Brooke does have a disadvantage of some form, he/she will overcome it in the end, they just need support and encouragement.*


Yours Truly,

Dr. Phil


Group 201 à Morgan Cooper, Ryan King, Sylvia Marques, Mike Plantus, Tonia Fitch



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