Pint-Sized Phenoms: Amazing at 7 months & 17 years

Have you seen these amazing kids? Let's start with the youngest, at 7 months, Ryder Blair. While I understand why some would respond negatively (like he should be wearing a helmet, etc.), as a mom I understand being astonished by what your child can do. Check out this video of Ryder "waterskiiing!"

While Ryder got a lot of attention, a group of middle schoolers dominated kids and competition headlines in the US the past few weeks with the Scripps Spelling Bee, National Geographic Bee, and Raytheon MathCounts Competition all occurring within a few weeks of one another. In these contests 13-year-old Arvind Mahankai won along with 12-year-old Sathwick Karnik and 14-year-old Alec Sun.

Not to be forgotten are high schoolers, especially athletes. I found the stories of these three young women to be especially extraordinary. 15-year-old Charlotte Brown and 17-year-old Aria Ottmueller are legally blind, but that isn't stopping them from pursuing pole vaulting in their home states of Texas and Arizona.

Charlotte Brown pole vaulting by Rex C. Curry for the NYT

Another impressive 15-year-old I read about recently is Nancy Mulkey, also from Texas. At 6' 9" it might seem obvious that she would be a basketball player, but Mulkey has worked hard to improve her skills, earning her a spot on USA basketball's U16 team. I bet she could waterski and pole vault pretty well too-- though unclear that spelling and geography would be her thing.

This group of kids shows that no matter your interest, skill, or age, if you work hard you can distinguish yourself as a phenom in some way.

Teach Your Children R-E-S-I-L-I-E-N-C-Y

Since before I became a mother I have loved reading Brain, Child. It's tagline is, "The Magazine for Thinking Mothers," and it's been called "The New Yorker for Moms." Brain, Child Summer 2013 cover

So you can imagine how excited I was when a piece I wrote appeared in this summer's issue. It's a book review of Madeline Levine's latest book, Teach Your Children Well: Parenting for Authentic Success.

Teach Your Children Well Amazon cover

I love reading and I love writing so I really enjoy doing book reviews, especially on non-fiction parenting books like this that are based on research and practice, but accessible to all parents-- definitely what I hope Playing to Win: Raising Children in a Competitive Culture might be able to accomplish (shameless plug alert: the first press release for the book went out today!).

One of the skills Levine emphasizes is resilience, something I see in my own research on competitive kids' activities as well. Last week if you watched the Scripps National Spelling you saw this directly. The winner, Arvind Mahankai, won on his fourth attempt (after finishing third the past two years in a row and going out on a German word each time-- though he won with a German/Yiddish word this year). Please click through to my latest at Psychology Today to read more on how competitive children's activities like the Spelling Bee can help boost kids' competitive kid capital, and build more resilient individuals.

Here's the link: "How Do You Spell R-E-S-I-L-I-E-N-T? National Spelling Bee highlights the importance of resilience in childhood.”

We should all teach our children as well as Levine and Mahankai's parents.