Can I Make My Child Smarter? 6 Common Parenting Myths Education

Can I Make My Child Smarter? 6 Common Parenting Myths

Integrated Learning Strategies (ILS) is a learning and academic center. As a reminder, ILS is not a health care provider and none of our materials or services provide a diagnosis or treatment of a specific condition or learning challenge you may see in your child or student. If you seek a diagnosis or treatment for your child or student, please contact a trained professional who can provide an evaluation of the child.

We as parents want the best for our children. We want to raise a generation of healthy, intelligent, society-contributing individuals that can make a difference in the world. In order to do so, we read parenting books, download the brain development apps, feed our kids the best money can buy, and quickly buy into many myths surrounding child development. While you can make your child smarter, not everything you hear is true. Below are 6 common myths about how to make your baby smarter and the truth behind them.

Can I Make My Child Smarter? 6 Common Parenting Myths |

Myth #1

Watching Baby Videos Will Make My Child Smarter

Watching TV before the age of 2 may do more harm than good.  In fact, children who spend more time watching TV, including “educational” videos, especially between 8-16 months, tend to know less words and have delayed language development than children who did not. Learning is interactive, so the problem with most baby videos and apps is that they don’t allow children to learn by trial and error and human interaction. Our brains learn by action, not by hearing about something.

Myth #2

Mozart Will Make My Baby Smarter

Well, yes.  Kind of.  In 1993, a study called the “Mozart Effect” showed that students who listened to Mozart seemed to have higher IQs than those who did not. People became excited.  Thousands of Mozart for Baby CDs were sold, and everyone began sending their kids to bed with the soothing sounds of The Magic Flute.  However, since that time, other studies have shown that listening to Mozart doesn’t really have any effect on your child’s IQ. What does influence their intelligence is multi-sensory stimulation, and that can include music. It doesn’t have to specifically be Mozart, though, it can be pop, classical, a lullaby, or banging away on a xylophone. Producing music also can make children smarter. Music lessons, and learning to play an instrument increases IQ by about 3 points, on average. 

Can I Make My Child Smarter? 6 Common Parenting Myths |

Myth #3

Breastfeeding My Baby Will Make Him or Her Smarter

There is truth in this myth, children who were breastfed as babies do have a higher intelligence than those who were not. However, this is based more on correlation than causation. The intelligence comes from the mother, not necessarily from the milk. A lot of intelligence is inherited, and more intelligent parents tend to create a more enriching environment for their children. Mothers who have 15 more IQ points are twice as likely to breastfeed their children. However, the breastfeeding doesn’t really have much to do with a baby’s intelligence, it is more the environment and the intelligence of his or her parents. Breastfeeding does, however, increases the immune system and builds a bond with the mother.  

Myth #4

If My Children Attend a Special School, They Will Be Smarter

This myth is partially true, but not for the reasons you think. Private or charter schools may have a better curriculum, smaller class sizes, and teachers with higher credentials, but it actually is the peer group that your children will be exposed to that has a greater effect on their intelligence. Yes, the other factors make a difference as well, but that mostly depends on the school. The other children that will be be attending the school will be more motivated and more intelligent than other kids their age. Bruce Sacerdote studied Dartmouth College students and found that students with lower GPA’s grades improved when they moved in with higher-scoring roommates. The same effect happens with children who interact with smarter, more driven children.

Can I Make My Child Smarter? 6 Common Parenting Myths |

Myth #5

My Child has a Bigger Head, They Must Have a Bigger Brain

Diane Bales, a human development specialist said “A bigger head doesn’t necessarily mean a bigger brain. And having a bigger brain doesn’t make you smarter. Dolphins actually have larger brains than humans. And rat brains have more cells per cubic inch. Humans are more intelligent because our brains have been fine-tuned to be more efficient.” Scientists believe that it is actually the volume of grey matter and complexity of synapses that determines intelligence, not brain size.  

Myth #6

If I Tell My Child He or She Is Smart, They Will Become Smart

This myth is partially true and partially not. Simply telling your kids they are smart can do one of two things: discourage them from trying hard things, or turning them into a narcissist. If you tell your kids they are smart, they may not try challenging tasks that would help them grow, because they are afraid of failure, and therefore would not be “smart.”

Also, if you tell your kids that they are smart or other flowery compliments without backing them up, they can become a narcissist. This is known as the Special Snowflake Syndrome. If you tell your child that they are more special or more smart  than others, and praise them rather than their growth, you teach them that the results are more important than the process. Be careful not to overvalue your child’s accomplishments without teaching them empathy and the value of hard work. Complements like “You worked hard on that.” and “You found a creative way to do that.” are more effective at teaching your children to be intelligent than “You’re so smart” or “You’re creative.” Also, don’t lie to your children and tell them they did a good job when they did not.

Integrated Learning Strategies is a Utah-based center dedicated to helping mainstream children and children with learning challenges achieve academic success. Our services provide kids with non-traditional tutoring programs within the Davis County, Kaysville, Layton, Syracuse, Farmington, and Centerville areas. Areas to find Integrated Learning Strategies include: Reading tutors in Kaysville, Math tutors in Kaysville, Common Core Tutors in Kaysville, Tutors in Utah, Utah Tutoring Programs


  1. Ohhh, I thought myth #2 was true. Thanks for this info. 🙂
    Nicole recently posted…Reindeer PancakesMy Profile

    • Since this was a guest post, I was a little hesitant on number two until I read to the bottom. At our center, we believe that music therapy (which includes classical music) completely changes the brain. I think they were referring just to Mozart videos, where there are several musical programs out there to help children learn, especially with musical instruments. We encourage all children and adults to develop a love of music, especially classical because we know it changes the brain and improve their auditor systems. We’ve seen it in many of our students at our center.

  2. These are great reminders. I think sometimes parents get hung up on doing the “right” things.
    LydiaF recently posted…Buffalo Tofu Wings With Non Dairy Ranch DressingMy Profile

  3. I have heard people say Myth #5 before, and I’ve always thought that sounded crazy!

  4. Very interesting information! There were a couple of these I never knew were myths!

  5. I must confess that the number one, I believe in. I mean not that will make them smarter, but it does help them get knowledge when the videos are educative of course. The other ones, despite I kind of believed in, it’s good to know those are myths.

    My girl watched lots of educative videos since she was a baby. Things like Mickey Muse Clubhouse, Jelly Jamm, Unisumi, and in iPad she watched lots of videos from busy beaver and TuTiTu… All those video teach maths, words, colors, shapes, letters and by the time she hit 2 YO she already kew number to 10 and all the alphabet in english and Spanish… Also most colors and shapes. So not sure if that is called being smart or knowledge overload LOL. But I do believe those video do expose them to learn faster.

    Thank you for this post learned a lot!!!
    Cami @ The Crafting Nook recently posted…DIY Decorative Vinyl Christmas Gift JarMy Profile

    • I actually agree with you about the baby videos in moderation. I think there are many great videos and educational apps out there to help children learn and grow. However, the developmental milestones are really critical so as long as they are getting a combination of both, I think they will turn out great. The developmental stages are the most important for learning.

  6. I love this! We send our son to bed listening to music but it isn’t classical, glad to know it’s helping him just as much. I’m also totally guilty of telling my kids “good job” when they, in fact, didn’t do a good job. I am working of fixing this by telling them “good try” or “almost, can I help you?” It seems to be working. 🙂

  7. This was interesting! You know, I think I have heard parents say that bigger heads mean they are smarter and was not surprised when I saw that on your list. Great read!
    Cathy Mini recently posted…‘Thinking of You’ Gift BasketMy Profile

  8. Thanks for debunking these!

  9. These are true, sometimes I think we have a harder time because we are in a day and age where we can more easily compare our children and their successes to others leaving us, the parents, to feel more of a burden to “help make their kids smarter” which cause more harm than good. Thanks for this list!
    Victoria @ Creative Home Keeper recently posted…Clutter-Free Gift Ideas {Holiday Gift Guide}My Profile

    • That is very true! I understand parents wanting their children to succeed. I think sometimes it can be tough to know the right programs and avenues. The most important things we’ve seen in the academic success of our students is in their development. As long as they have the right developmental growth or intervention, they excel and do really well.

  10. Ooh my gosh! I remember the Mozart craze. So many CDs were flying off of the store shelves. I remember getting two of them at a baby shower too. lol
    Kim @ 2justByou recently posted…More Organizing This Week at #GrowingCirclesHopMy Profile

    • It is so true! I know music is essential for helping kids to learn and develops their auditory, however, I like how they said it is not just Mozart that does the trick. Great time to also enroll kids in a musical instrument as well.

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