There is one scientific fact that I bet most fathers would not want to hear. It is the fact that the child’s intelligence comes from the mother because the gene for intelligence is carried by the X chromosome. Thus they say, if you want to have intelligent kids, marry a smart woman!
But due to the advent of research, other determinants of human intelligence have been identified. Researchers are quick to agree that intelligence is not all about genes. There are other factors that determine the level of intelligence like the environment where the child is exposed to, parenting style, and early stimulation. The good news is, these factors are modifiable and are not predetermined by heredity. So, even if you don’t have the gene to start with, take a closer look at these modifiable factors. Perhaps, these can be of great help in order to boost your child’s intelligence.
1) Play Mozart music while the baby is still inside your tummy. Some experts say that the baby can already hear at about 7 months of gestation, and playing music will provide early stimulation to the neurons in the brain. Research has shown that it has a positive effect on spatial relationship function since the same part of the brain gets stimulated by playing this type of music.
2) Touch interaction is vital for children. The sense of touch makes children feel secure and helps develop emotional intelligence. In contrast, when children don’t feel safe and secure, their ability to learn is affected.
3) Provide the child with good nutrition. Even during pregnancy, it is best to be watchful of your diet. Did you know that docosahexaenoic acid or DHA is the most abundant fatty acid in the brain that is crucial for brain health, from infancy to old age? Unfortunately, our diet is not rich with DHA therefore mothers are advised to take supplements. DHA can be found in omega-3 rich foods like fatty fish (mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and salmon). Omega-3 capsules are also readily available in the market.
4) Establish a close, loving, and affectionate relationship with your child. The Amygdala is the structure in the brain that regulates emotion. When a child feels threatened, the amygdala creates a fight-or-flight response, which would allow emotion to overrule and shut down the thinking parts of the brain.
5) Provide the child with a variety of experience in the real world. The best learning for the child is active engagement. He’s more thrilled with counting stones in the context of gardening or learning different colors in the context of vegetable and fruit sorting while doing the grocery.
6) Let the child explore things by allowing him to manipulate his toys with adult supervision. This will develop his creativity by compelling his brain to think and learn new ways.
7) Limit TV and video games. TV and video games will put the child in a receptive mode, keeping him away from a rich, natural interaction with the real world.
8) Children do not need fancy and expensive toys. Research by Lisa Oakes, PhD, a professor of psychology and specialist in infant cognition, has shown that infants are more interested in the action of a toy than the outcome it produces. Thus, interaction with the child at play would be more beneficial because children learn from their parent’s reaction too.
9) Encourage the child to welcome challenges by setting a “growth mindset” early on. Research has found that children with a fixed mindset, who believed that intelligence is an all-or-none phenomenon have less motivation to learn. In contrast, children with a “growth mindset” are attracted to challenges, such that they would study harder to score higher on the test when they failed for the first time.
10) Praise your child’s effort, not just his intelligence. Praising the child’s process, commitment, strategies and dedication gives kids the idea that hard work is always needed for achievement. On the other hand, praising only the child’s intelligence can give a message that, he’s being smart is a natural gift. And when academic success doesn’t just happen, they lose the motivation to work harder.
Contrary to what many parents think, that the child’s brain is like a vessel that can simply be bombarded with tons of knowledge, the child’s intelligence is a dynamic process. The child’s brain is further likened to a muscle – it gets stronger with active use. Thus, we should allow our children to explore, experience, and expose themselves to the real world.