Do you have a child genius on your hands? Even bright people sometimes can’t judge their own child’s IQ. At a very early age, it’s hard to determine how smart a baby is — and it may not be that important to know, either. Whether genuinely gifted at birth or not, treating a child as if they are may turn them into adult geniuses. It may also be better to treat very bright children as if they were just children — which, of course, they are. Why? Because the label “genius” carries a lot of impact.
Technically, geniuses are people who score over a 140 IQ level on one of a number of standardized tests. Though the appellation “genius” is a hotly-contested label, with hundreds of politically correct groups trying to apply the word to many types of intelligence, there is one simple fact: consistently, about 2% of the population score at this level on these tests. This 2% is set apart from others by their ability to reason, problem-solve, and answer questions based on learned information.
This is not to say that a genius is somehow better than everyone else. Work skills, social skills, and simple and complex motor skills may escape these brainy folks — and all these skills are just as important as smarts for determining an individual’s success. A genius is just as likely to be unemployed as anyone else. With that said, more parents want a smart baby than a baby with any other trait.
Because of this, people say and do ludicrous things. Baby Einstein – a line of toys and media supposedly proven to boost intellect – is overwhelmingly successful. People take their babies to preparatory daycares before they’re even a year old. I’ve seen parents brag that their two-week-old baby is a genius because she smiled before that one-month marker.
It’s silly. Babies respond to their whole environment, not to targeted attempts to get them to be smart. A baby inclined to be bright is going to be bright in any sufficiently-stimulatory environment, regardless of how much money you spend on all the other things.
But – you can tell at a very young age how smart your little one is.
Bright Babies: How To Tell – and How To Grow Them
I was one of those very bright babies. My grandmother told me I was talking before I could sit up, and I was reading fluently before I was two years old. My oldest son was slightly verbally delayed, but he hit all his physical milestones well before he was supposed to, as well as a number of intellectual ones; today he tests close to the genius level. What sets some kids apart this way?
Regardless of what anyone says, the first ingredient for those bright babies is a pair of bright parents. This is only partly genetic. More important than genes is the environment smart parents bring their babies: lots of books, lots of conversation, lots of environmental changes. Smart parents get bored more quickly. They aren’t likely to sit and watch hours upon hours of television, but rather to interact with one another and the baby. When they do watch television, it’s more likely to be news and educational television than the fifty-eighth rerun of Friends.
More importantly, they tend to be very responsive to babies – which has a great feedback effect. Responsive parents make babies more responsive. And it’s the interplay between two humans that has the highest impact on intellect.
Does your baby look you in the eye early and often? Does she recognize you early and smile? Most mportantly, does she seem to delight in your presence? These are all good signs.
Less important than direct interaction is when your baby hits individual milestones. Each milestone is hit at least partly by chance as your baby explores his or her environment, and a baby who’s two weeks early with sitting up may just have figured out the balance problems a little earlier than other babies – entirely through chance. If, however, your little one hits milestone after milestone early, you may have a very bright one on your hands.
The clearest sign of a bright baby is when they hit their verbal benchmarks, but this too is far from foolproof. Babies who are talking – and who know what they’re saying – before they turn a year old are almost certainly bright. But a baby who doesn’t hit his benchmarks verbally isn’t necessarily of lower intelligence. All three of my sons are quite bright, and all three of them were late talkers (one because he’s autistic).
*Early interest in books, and care with them.
*Early reading, or attempts at reading.
*Babies who teach themselves intellectual skills. My oldest son taught himself basic algebra by playing Super Mario Brothers – at the age of four. There are hundreds of stories about children who teach themselves to read.
*Little ones who seem particularly creative in play.
*Babies who show a great deal of interest in other people.
Taken individually, these signs don’t necessarily indicate anything except a child who has discovered something early. But if you have a couple or more of these signs, you probably have a smart one on your hands.
Want To Know For Sure?
Whether it’s for bragging rights or out of worry that you aren’t properly stimulating your smart baby, a lot of parents want to know for certain how smart their child is. I don’t recommend this. Every baby should be stimulated as if he or she were very bright because this is often a self-fulfilling prophecy. A disappointing test result may lead parents to try less.
But if you must, when your child is about two you can take him or her to a psychologist. Only here can tests be administered to measure the unmeasurable – how bright your little one really is. Keep in mind, however, that early tests aren’t as accurate as later ones, and that your child at this age is being measured against all other children at that age. Low test results don’t mean that your child is dumb, but only that he or she is developing intellectually a little more slowly than one might expect. All my children, at the age of two, would have tested low. Today, they’re all at least above average.
If your child tests high, congratulate yourself – and then continue doing whatever you’re doing. Her genetics and your methods of raising together are the reason her IQ is high. As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.