Raising a smart kid is all about developing his potential, making him all that he (or she) can be.
The brain does not grow automatically with age. It comes from experience and the exercise the brain receives. Sight, sound, touch, taste and smell stimulate the brain’s cell connections (called synapses) and create trillions more. The more complex these interconnections, the smarter your kid will be. When you provide your kid with early stimulation and a wide range of experiences, you can accelerate his brain development.
Also, when you bond with your baby, you provide him with love and security that brings about brain connections.
Your kid’s brain growth is dynamic. It does not stand still. It is either improving or degenerating. When a child’s abilities and talents are being used, brain growth progresses. When they are not being used, the neural connections are lost, and brain growth regresses. In this regard, an “unstimulated” gifted child has more to lose.
What your child experiences in early years shape the kind of person he will become – how he gets along, how he controls emotions, how well he does in school, what kind of relationships he forms, and even what kind of parent he will become.
Here are some tips to help your child maximize his or her intellectual potential:
- Research shows that children who are read to when very young are more likely to develop a lifelong interest in reading, do well in school and succeed in adult life. Studies show that reading to children when they are aged 0 to 3 helps them realize their potential during a crucial period in their development.
- Praise your kid’s effort, not his inborn intelligence. Kids who are praised for their intelligence tend to do easy tasks and avoid challenges that might endanger his self-image of being smart. Your kid needs to challenge himself, and thus experience failure every now and then. Not experiencing failure means he has not set his goal high enough, and he will not be able to achieve anything worthwhile.
- Make lifelong leaning your entire family’s commitment, not just a school requirement.
- Parental involvement is an important factor for your kid’s success in school. Also, more important than attending parent-teacher conferences is showing up at ball games and music recitals.
- Ideally, fathers should be actively involved in raising kids. According to a 2011 research study from Concordia University, published in the Canadian Journal of Behavior Science, children of fathers who were hands-on and used positive parenting skills tended to have fewer behavioral problems and do better on intelligence tests. Some kids with no contact with fathers, however, also do well intellectually and emotionally because mothers and caregivers make up for the fathers’ absence.
- Self-discipline and willpower are more important than IQ at predicting who will be successful in life. Also, intelligence is not everything. Intelligence without morals and empathy could lead to a disastrous future.
- When a child plays, he is not just having fun, he is developing his brain. Choose toys that exercise your child’s imagination, or where he can learn a variety of skills from.
- Taking music lessons or playing a musical instrument could make your child’s mind sharper and may benefit your child’s brain later in life, even if he does not continue learning music in his adulthood.
- Limit your child’s tv watching as it affects his ability to develop important life skills. Some TV though, is good, but it has to be selective. A child who is less than 2 years old should not have TV time.
- Math is a very important skill to master. Unfortunately, some parents tend to communicate to their kids that math is hard. Avoid unconsciously impressing on your child that he should fear math. Instead, train your child to think that math is fun.
- Sometimes just believing in your kid, that he is smart makes a difference.
- Do not expose your child to too much stress. Stress hormones scar the brain, and actually shrinks the part that is important for memory and emotion.
- Do not yell at your kids. ““Spanking with words” have a significant effect on a child’s development. A study from the Harvard Medical School suggests that “parental verbal abuse can injure brain pathways, possibly causing depression, anxiety, and problems with language processing”.
- Do not maltreat your child. Maltreatment of children can have long-term effects on their brain. Teens who were abused in childhood or were neglected can have less brain cells in some areas of the brain than those who were not maltreated, according to the study published in the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine. In boys, the brain size reduction tends to be concentrated on the areas of the brain associated with impulse control or substance abuse. In girls, the brain reduction is found on the areas of the brain that is linked to depression.
- Explaining decisions to kids, and not just using direct verbal commands, and letting them talk back, at least for just a bit, helps develop your child’s minds, “inviting more complex thought and language development” as they do so, according to a research published in the journal of Developmental Psychology.
- Raising your kid to be bilingual may enhance his cognitive ability. a key study in the 1962 by Elizabeth Peal and Wallace Lambert at McGill University in Montreal found that bilinguals outperformed monolinguals in 15 verbal and nonverbal tests. More recent studies show that bilingual experience helps kids acquire other new languages throughout their lives. Bilinguals have also found to have flexible and focused brains as the executive control of their brains become adept at juggling languages that are constantly competing for attention.
- If you let your young child use a smartphone or tablet, play and interact with him using educational apps. Playing too much interactive media by himself may affect his development of insights, empathy, way of knowing themselves, and connecting with relationships.
- According to the book “NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children”, missing an hour of sleep turns a sixth grader’s brain into a fourth grader. There is also a correlation between grades and average amount of sleep.
- If you smoke, do not smoke around your kid. Kids who breathe secondhand smoke are more likely to struggle with mental problems.
- According to a January 2013 report published in Perspectives on Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, three effective ways of boosting your child’s intelligence are supplementing your child’s diet with fish oil, enrolling her in a quality preschool, and engaging her in interactive reading.
- Feeding children lots of fatty, sugary and processed foods may lower their IQ, while a diet rich in vitamins and nutrients appears to boost it, British researchers say.
- Do not feed your kid food that contains monosodium glutamate, as this has been found by studies to kill brain cells.