How to raise intelligent children
Since my early years of professional life, I have been answering questions about gifted development and education. So it is not surprising that I am asked to take part in an interview about raising intelligent children. As I prepared for and gave an interview recently, it was surprising how little I put emphasis on intelligence and how much I stressed simple, old-fashioned ideas about raising kids.
While my main research, teaching, writing, and writing have been focused on giftedness, it is not the only quality I value. In fact, I value kindness, integrity and a sense of humor more than intelligence. None of these attributes require a high IQ.
Intelligence is important. An intelligent, curious, well-developed and disciplined mind will be an advantage in all human activities, from school to the workplace to personal relationships. Here are my findings based on recent research on intelligence and brain.
1. It all starts with you.
You can take care of yourself and your child by taking good care of them. Your child will thrive if you allow them to be imperfect and accept your failures as learning opportunities. (This is a key theme in Imperfect Parents: How to Build Relationships with Your Child to Weather Any Storm.
2. Show your child unconditional love by showing it.
Be reliable and always warm. Be patient and kind. Be yourself.
Be attentive to your child’s curiosities and respond to their questions.
4. You should make sure you have plenty of time to play.
Play is the work and learning of childhood. It is more important for your child’s brain development (upto seven years) than any time spent doing academic learning. Play is an important part of learning and it should not be wasted.
5. Encourage all senses in your child.
Your child should be able to explore the world around them from birth. Help them discover ways to learn more about something they are interested in.
To succeed in any area of life, emotional regulation, self-control and persistence are more important than intelligence. Learn relaxation techniques such as mindful breathing and balance your child’s life with time spent in nature and times where they can daydream and putter.
7. Take note of your child’s physical development.
Make sure your child gets enough sleep, good nutrition, and plenty of exercise. These are all important brain-builders.
8. Encourage your child’s imagination.
Creativity is not only a great way to learn and enrich your life, but it’s also a wonderful vehicle for emotional healing.
Start at the birth of your child and do all these things to nurture their intelligence. If your child is five, ten, or fifteen years old and you haven’t been doing any of these things yet, it’s fine. The brain’s ability to change and develop throughout life is a remarkable feature of recent research. This mechanism is called neural plasticity. The brain develops from birth to old age when we interact with the environment, engage in meaningful activities, and challenge ourselves to learn.
Many parents are shocked to discover that there are still some old-fashioned secrets for raising smart children. These include loving your child, being kind and patient with them, making sure they get plenty of sleep, and making sure they play a lot. But, brain-building and person building are two different things.