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