10 Tips for Smarter Children

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Are you pregnant? Or do you have a desire to have children? Are you concerned about what you can do to ensure that your baby has the best conditions from the beginning to become a happy and clever child?

Then forget the Mozart CDs and the English course!

In this blog post, you’ll learn the really important things your baby needs in the first few months to develop optimally.

Many parents wish that their little sweetheart is a smart and happy baby. As a student he brings home good grades, studies successfully and gets a well-paid job.

Since you are reading this post, you are certainly similar.

These wishes are only too understandable, the fulfillment of which increases the chances that one’s own offspring will become independent of the parents and be able to look after themselves well.

In the long run, financial worries and fears about the future will disappear from the shoulders of the parents.

But what is the meaning of intelligence and what switches do I have to press at my baby that he has the best chances in life?

This article may contain amazon affiliate links.

But what is intelligence?

What is intelligence and how can you measure it? Since there are a lot of well-researched publications on this subject, I would like to concentrate on what is essential.

Definition

[mass noun]
/ɪnˈtɛlɪdʒ(ə)ns/
[mass noun]
1. The ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. ‘an eminent man of great intelligence’

„intelligence“ in the oxforddictionary URL: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/intelligence (Date: 28.12.2018)

The term “intelligence” summarizes the multi-faceted cognitive abilities of a person. Unfortunately, despite the many theories that exist about the intelligence of humans and their measurability, no general definition can be defined. [1]

However, the complex human intelligence can be divided into different areas. The basisfor this are two essential aspects: memory and improvisation (see. [2], p. 113).

Memoryis the ability to remember information. The improvisationdescribes how well this information can be retrieved and recombined (see [2], p. 113).

Even in ancient times, you had better chances of survival, if you have remembered from last year, the best places for fruits or mushrooms. From the death of your comrades, you have combined the consequences of the consumption with the characteristics of the fruits and thereby sorted out the poisonous ones … Survival of the fittest.

In addition to the two basic principles mentioned, the following are other ingredients to an intelligent humanthat can already be observed in newborns (see [2], p. 114):

  • Urge to explore things
  • Self-control
  • Creativity
  • Verbal communication
  • Understanding of nonverbal communicatio

The challenge of human intelligence is to make it measurable in order to compare it.

Measurability

If you think about the measurability of intelligence, you will probably first come across the IQ test. The desire to make intelligence measurable has existed for a very long time. The first such useful “IQ” tests were already available at the beginning of the 20th century [3].

Is intelligence measurable?
Measurability of intelligence (Source Pixabay)

It is quickly forgotten, however, that the intelligence itself is not measurable, and each test on the one hand can only test a section and on the other always other factors, such as time of day, general condition of the tested, etc., influence the test.

Intelligence tests, in fact, can not measure most aspects of intelligence. Stamping on a single number that your child should or must reach is therefore absolutely not recommended!

Your child is wonderful and unique, no number can express that!

Since about 50% of the intelligence is inheritece, have its environment, its diet, etc. influence on the other 50%. So if you heed the following points, then you can give your sweetheart the best start in life!

Incidentally, this already begins in pregnancy

During pregnancy

1 Eat smart

Fun Fact:A baby’s IQ increases with birth weight, until about 3600 g (after that no longer significant) (see [2]). That means if you are pregnant, it is important to pay attention to good nutrition. Both qualitatively and quantitatively!

Stop! Hold on!

If you want to pounce on chocolate and chips now, leave it. A healthy diet is the prerequisite for healthy children … despite all the chocolate cravings you might have in pregnancy.

Pregnant woman
Pregnant Woman (Source Pixabay)

If you have many cravings, think more carefully about what the cause may be. Gravings can be, for example, a sign of a lack of certain nutrients, such as iron or magnesium. Whether you have a defect can be determined by your gynaecologist.

For your child’s intelligence, various nutrients are already crucial in your abdomen. For example, in addition to enough folic acid, a healthy ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fat has been shown to contribute to the child’s brain development (see. [2], p.56).

Suitable foods are: Linseed oil, hemp oil, walnut oil, rapeseed oil, chia seeds. Fish is also a good omega-3 supplier, but the pollution level is often relatively high, not to mention the overfishing of the oceans.

In my experience, it is advantageous if you take enough fruit and vegetables during and after pregnancy and reduce the consumption of meat, sausage and processed foods, yes, including chocolate.

Especially in pregnancy and breastfeeding, situations in whichthe body provides thewoman with incredible things, it is important to supply mother and child with sufficient nutrients. I myself ate 80% vegan in my pregnancy and felt very good about it.

2 Enough activity

Sport reduces stress and stress damages the baby’s brain development. It’s as simple as that and I could actually stop here.

But there are other factors that point to exercising moderately in pregnancy as well.

There are many studies looking at the subject of sport in pregnancy. You can read this here, for example: [2], [6] and [7]. What these studies have in common is the recognition that pregnant women who exercise moderately have a lighter birth, fewer pregnancy complaints and a smarter baby.

Sport has a positive effect on the brain development of the fetus and also reduces stress and even the birth pain.

The reasons for this can be explained by our past. We are actually marathon runners as we ran between 20 and 40 km every day before the ages. Endurance sports belongs to us, and our bodies are designed to do that. Unfortunately, we recently settled, started working in offices and bought TVs.

What can you do?

If you’ve been doing sports before pregnancy, get on with it as long as you feel good about it.

If you want to start a new sport, start slowly and possibly let yourself be advised by your gynecologist. A good sport, especially for the third trimester is swimming. In addition to the pleasant weightlessness in the water, the water also cools you down and protects against overheating due to the athletic effort.

In any case, you should avoid dangerous or very strenuous sports such as riding.

3 No stress

The number one brain killer is stress. There is a study that has investigated the influence of a natural disaster in Canada on children who were still in the womb at the time [8].

I find the results terrifying. At the age of 5, the behaviour of these children differed in that their IQ was significantly lower and language development was further back.

These and other studies confirm that mother’s stress during pregnancy has a significant negative impact on the development of the unborn (e.g. on temperament, motor skills, brain volume, IQ, attention and concentration), which is detectable long after birth.

What can you do?

A bit of stress now and then is not harmful and can even be good for the child as they learn how to deal with stress. Avoid permanent stress, i.e. frequent, massive, chronic stress.

If the stress is not preventable due to unforeseen events, try to keep yourself out as best you can. Leave the regulation of affairs to others.

Take a deep breath, take time off, exercise, do yoga or meditate.

After pregnancy

4 Long breastfeeding

I know, I know, the old story of breastfeeding again. But it just can’t be said often enough how important and valuable breastfeeding is to a baby.

If you belong to those who already take this to heart, meaning you are lucky and you are able to breastfeed or may already have been doing so for more than 12 months, then congratulations! All done right, stay tuned!

There are still women to whom this has not yet penetrated. Those who consciously decide against breastfeeding. My appeal to these women, despite all the counter-arguments from the family or their own convictions, is to try it anyway. Because something better can’t happen to your child’s brain!

Breastfeeding creates the basis for further life. Breast milk contains as much nutrients and adapts as flexibly (partly within a day) to the child’s needs as no artificial food can afford.

In addition, the physical closeness between mother and child creates a close bond which creates the baby’s basic trust in his family.

Nature has created something wonderfully simple here and yet so complex that cannot be more optimal for the first years of a child’s life.

Why are there still women who can not breastfeed?

For this I can recommend the German book by Nora Imlau “Mein kompetentes Baby” [4] . There she describes very clearly how we humans, by dealing with breastfeeding in our industrialized society and the low birth rates, have less and less chance of learningto breastfeed.

For unlike many other mammals, humans have to copy how to breastfeed from their fellow human beings.

We learn from our mothers, sisters, aunts and so on. However, where one’s own child is often the only child in the world and hospitals and midwives often use the bottle too quickly, the decision has unfortunately often fallen much too fast.

I myself gave birth to my child in a “Babyfreudlichen” (“baby-friendly”) hospital here in Germany and had very good experiences doing so. “Babyfreundlich” is an initiative of Unicef and WHO [5]. This is what hospitals are allowed to call themselves, when they have shown to promote the bond between baby and family, and this includes intensive breastfeeding counseling.

5 Carry a lot

Did you know that babies who have been carried a lot from the start have been proven to be on average smarterthan children who only knew the stroller? [9]

This is justified by the fact that babies in the baby sling have a better all-round view. They are at eye level right from the beginning and realize a lot more from their environment than their counterparts in the stroller, which is more like an isolation cell in comparison. All senses are sharpened

Me, carrying my baby

In the stroller, the little one sees only what is right above him and actively turns to him. He cannot actively turn to anyone here in the lying position or draw attention to itself through facial expressions and gestures (except through loud noises)

Due to the upright postures in the baby sling and the opportunity to actively participate in her environment, all senses are promoted, which in turn gives a proper boost to the development.

In addition, here again, the closeness to the reference person strengthens the bond and creates security. Closeness and security are essential for a baby’s mental and emotional development.

Personally, I really enjoyed spending time with my baby in the baby sling. Regardless of whether he has a higher IQ or not, I found the security of having my baby warm and sheltered with me, with nothing to compare.

The carrying has many other positive features (e.g. prevention of malformations) and side effects (e.g. breastfeeding in the stretcher), which I will happily describe in another article.

 Ergobaby Adapt
Use a baby carrier like the ergobaby adapt….
Baby Wrap Ergo Carrier Sling - by Sleepy Wrap
… or a baby wrap like sleepy wrap.

Important precondition: Please always carry your child face to face. Never carry your baby face out! One reason is the C-curve of babys back, that is only supported by carrying your baby face in. Another important reason ist, that your baby needs a possibility to hide its face to prevent overstimulation. Overstimulation can be harmful to the development of a child.

6 Speak a lot

It’s not just a cliché that women talk a lot and mostly have a bigger social network than men.

Maybe that’s why women have the kids …

The fact is that this is of great benefit for supporting the child’s intelligence.

Various studies [10][11] have shown that children to whom spoken a lot as a baby have a higher vocabulary and are better at reading and writing at school.

Detailed study of the impact of family communication on child development.[10]

But not only the number of words, but also their diversity and interaction with the child (questions, facial expressions, gestures), contribute to such children having a higher IQ than a comparison group that does not take this into account.

What can you do?

Talk to your baby and toddler. React to his words with gestures, facial expressions and verbal communication. Explain to him, in simple terms, what you are doing right now, that you wrap her, put her pants on right away and you then go out into the park with her.

It actually almost doesn’t matter what you tell. It is important, that it comes from a real human being , because YouTube and DVDs can’t replace a real voice and face. There is no shortcut here.

Even reading aloud early is a nice way to expand the vocabulary of the child, and also your own. Because in everyday life you often have to deal with the same situations and words.

Fun Fact: The parental chanting, talking in baby language, is also a witty invention of nature. The baby language with the long vowels drawn and the high voice make it easier for the baby to recognize and distinguish the individual words and sounds.

7 Play

At Christmas or birthday you give the best toys, but in the end the child prefers to play with the packaging box.

Or the little princess stands in front of the mirror with the pumps, the mother’s new scarf and sunglasses, playing superstar.

Have you experienced this before?

Children are curious and creative from birth. It is precisely these two qualities that are the basic prerequisite for learning new things and part of every child from a very early age.

Free play promotes creative problem solving, language acquisition, stress management, social skills and overall cognitive development

Source: [2], p. 315

The gaming industry is taking a questionable direction here. For example, it has long been proven that free play promotes the nerve formation of children as strongly as vitamins and protein.

Toys that do not require any creativity, because there is only one way to assemble or use them or because the child does not have to think at all, are therefore unsuitable for children. Nevertheless, the stores are overflowing with such toys.

Why is that?

The reason, as is often the case, is quite banal, with free play it is hard to earn money. As a result, there are countless electronic games, DVDs with movies and alleged learning courses already for the baby age.

But they all often have only one thing in common, and that is the sometimes pointless distraction of the child and, in the worst case, the awakening of an addiction to the game.

The disadvantages of excessive consumption of digital media are well known:

  • Lack of activity / motion
  • Lack of coordination
  • Lack of concentration
  • Etc.

On the other hand, every child benefits from the positive effects of free play (see box above) into adulthood.[12]

What can you do?

In a school program, the concept “Tools of the Mind” was integrated. It assumes that role, fantasy and symbol games are the most useful ways to play [2].

The basis for this type of play is a box of clothes for dressing up, empty cartons for building and crafting, Lego bricks/building blocks and heaps of craft material.

You can provide your child with these things and give them time and space to let his imagination run wild. The best way to do this works with other children.

And also make sure that your sweetheartconsumes as little digital media as possible. This is not easy in our days. Before you try all the bans and rules, you can try the reward principle.

For example, your child can “work out” the media time. Depending on her age, this can happen, for example, by washing up, cleaning up or mowing the lawn.

8 Activity

What applies to you in pregnancy and also in “normal” life also applies to your child. Kids do have an enormous urge to move, and jump and run, and I often wonder where my little one takes all the energy!

Especially from the moment children learn to walk, it is important that they have the opportunity to live out the desire to move every day.

The brain loves exercise!

The relationship between the body and brain has been largely researched and confirms that exercise, especially endurance sports, has a large positive impact on brain development.

The formula for success:
Breastfeeding + Speak + Play + Sports = Smart Baby

Source: [2], p. 164

Children who exercise early also often stick with it later in life, struggle less with weight problems and often have benefits in managing stress. Denn wie ich bereits schon im Kapitel “In der Schwangerschaft” geschrieben habe, hilft Sport bei der Stressbewältigung.

What can you do?

Well, if you are already playing sports yourself, this point should not be a problem for you. But if you are like me, who doesn`t like sport, it is the time for us to leave our comfort zone behind and go out and play sports with our children!

Children learn best through the role model function and so it is, of course, also with the subject of movement. It is not enough just to animate the children, but we have to participate ourselves.

How about a run through the forest? Depending on your age, you can also make a small competition out of it. Or kite flying in autumn, skiing in winter, cycling and swimming in summer, and and and …

Every hour counts, that has not been spent on the couch!

9 No TV

I have already mentioned it in the previous chapter. The digital media and video games are also joined by television. That’s why I use the term television as a collective term for all digital media below.

I could write a whole bunch of blog articles about this topic here! But I will summarize the most important influences of television in relation to the development of children.

If you have read up to here, you should quickly realize that a child sitting in front of the TV for many hours a day cannot do some of the aforementioned things.

When a child sits in front of the TV, he misses during this time:

  • Activity
  • Verbal communication (no one talks to him)
  • Non-verbal communication (facial expressions, gestures)
  • Free play (creativity, interaction with other children, …)

There are still many studies on the influence of television on children. The results are partly controversial or ambiguous. There is a lack of long-term studies on the newer constantly changing media such as smartphones.

Television makes aggressive

Not kidding!

A direct link could be established between television consumption and loss of impulse control (aggressiveness). [13]

That’s scary enough, but further studies show that under-4s with every hour they watch TV are more likely to bully. ([2], p.159).

There are also signs that television has a negative impact on the child’s reading performance, ability to concentrate and language acquisition, especially at a young age.

I could cite many more studies and research results here, but I would like to leave it at that. The above-mentioned disadvantages speak for themselves.

Conclusion: Children (and adults) don’t belong in front of the TV!

What can you do?

Reduce the consumption of digital media to a minimum and offer alternatives. At best, joint ventures or lecture or game nights.

Be a role model! It won’t be enough if you offer your offspring TV, but sit in front of the boob tube for hours by yourself. Children are masters in imitation and every word is superfluous when action doesn’t fit. 😉

10 No stress

I intentionally mention the stress more than once in this article. Stress and especially permanent stress or chronic stress, are very harmful for a child’s brain development, both during pregnancy, but especially in the first months of life.

But we are also happy to generalize this, because permanent stress, as is well known, leads to an emergency situation in the body, which, it lasts too long, can lead to physical and psychological illnesses that can affect all ages.

Romanian orphans

What can happen especially in infants is shown very clearly by a study of neglected Romanian orphans from 1992 [14] and another study of their development after adoption by Canadian families in 1997 [15].

Political decisions, poverty and homelessness in populations have increased rapidly in Romania since the 1960s. Due to a lack of funds from the orphanages, these children vegetate to the worst.

Details about the extent of the neglect in the orphanages I spare you here.

When Western countries became aware of the grievances, many of these extremely neglected children were adopted. The second study cited accompanied Canadian parents several years after adoption.

The children were found to each evolved in two possible directions.

One group developed surprisingly normally. The children were socially and emotionally stable, achieved good grades and were otherwise indistinguishable from “normal” children.

The second group showed many abnormalities, such as eating disorders, diseases, antisocial and aggressive behavior (see [2], p. 97).

The research showed that only the ageat which the children were adopted had this great influence on their later development. The lucky “normal” children were adopted before the fourth month of life, the behavior-sensitive children, after the eighth month.

Bottom line: The bond the children experience in the first few months is so essential that it decides their whole lives. Stress that the children are exposed to during this time can be processed through a good bond with a loving caregiver.

Without such a social base in the first approx. eight months, permanent stress often has lasting negative consequences on body and mind.

Pressure

However, permanent stress also includes pressure to perform, i.e . permanently excessive demands on the child, and stress due to permanent disappointment and anger.

Consequences of persistent excessive pressure to perform and the disappointment of not being able to do justice to this can be learned helplessness and depression.

What can you do?

Sometimes there are situations where stress cannot be avoided. E.g. a change in the living situation due to unemployment or the death of a close relative.

Important in such cases is the knowledge of the effect on babies and toddlers. The little ones need stability, closeness, security and love in these special situations.

What they don’t need is pressure to perform. Children find their own way, even if it does not respond to the desired path of the parents. A stable environment and caregivers who can be relied upon are important cornerstones in a child’s life.

Conclusion

What about Mozart and the English course during pregnancy and breastfeeding now?

The fact that Mozart CD in pregnancy help a child to be able to do better math is a myth. It helps the baby to recognize the melodies even after the birth.

So you do not need to sit for hours with headphones on your belly.

What a baby really needs to have the best conditions to become a smart happy child is on the one hand: Smart parents (intelligence is inherited 50%) and on the other hand a lot of love in the form of: Closeness, breastfeeding, carrying, verbal and non-verbal Communication, movement and play and little stress.

Its useless to start early with additional pre-school lessons (English, Chinese,…) and reduce his free time to play. Playing is so important in the early years.

Children learn playfully and with natural enthusiasm. It is only the pressure at school and the daily level of performance that the joy of learning is dwindling.

I hope I was able to give you some suggestions and maybe also point out new aspects that have a positive impact on the development of a child.

Please leave your thoughts, additions and questions in the comments below if you like.

And if you liked the article, I’m happy if you share it!

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Medical disclaimer

I am not a doctor, a psychologist, nor do I have any other medical training that motivates me to make recommendations.

The content presented here is therefore for neutral information and general training only.

They do not constitute a recommendation or application of the diagnostic methods, treatments or medicines described or mentioned above. The text does not claim to be exhaustive, nor can the timeliness, accuracy and balance of the information provided be guaranteed.

The text does not replace expert advice from a doctor or pharmacist and it must not be used as a basis for independent diagnosis and start, modification or termination of treatment of diseases.

If you or your child has any health questions or complaints, always consult the doctor of your trust!

The authors and operators of this blog do not accept any liability for any inconvenience or damage resulting from the application of the information presented here.

Sources

[1] Intelligence on Wikipedia, URL: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligenz, accessed 25.11.2018.

[2] Medina, John (2017) : Brain Rules for your baby-How neuroscience insights help your children get smart and happy,2. German. Language edition, Bern: Hogrefe AG. ISBN: 978-3454557572 (Amazon affiliate link).

[3] Intelligence test on Wikipedia, URL: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligenztest, accessed 25.11.2018.

[4] Imlau, Nora (2016): My competent baby-How children show what they need. Edition, Münschen: Kösel-Verlag. ISBN-13:978-3466310678 (Amazon affiliate link).

[5] Babyfreundlich.org. URL: https://www.babyfreundlich.org/eltern.html,accessed 01.12.2018.

[6] Bird, Barbara. Dissertation “Investigating the association of sporting activity for premature birth of the ‘ BabyCare ‘ Date.” URL: https://edoc.ub.uni-muenchen.de/17659/1/Vogel_Barbara.pdf,accessed 02.12.2018.

[7] Botkin C. & Driscoll. C.E. 1991. Maternal aerobic exercise: Newborn effects. Family Practice Research Journal 11, p. 387-393.

[8] J. At Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2008 Sep.
Project Ice Storm: prenatal maternal stress affects cognitive and linguistic linguistic functioning in 5 2,500-year-old children. URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18665002.

[9] Dev Psychobiol. 1994 Sep;27(6):343-51. Metabolic activation of the brain of young rats after exposure to environmental complexity. URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8001724.

[10] Hart, B. & Risley, T. R. (1999). The social world of children’s learning to talk. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing. ISBN: 978-1557664204. (Amazon Affiliate Link)

[11] Hart, B. & Risley, T. R. (1995). Meaningful differences in the everyday experience of young American children. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing. ISBN: 978-1557661975.

[12] Wenner, M. (2009). The serious need for play. Scientific American Mind 20 (1). S.22-29

[13] Johnson, J. G. et al (2002). Television viewing and agressive behavior during adolexcence and adulthood. URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11923542.

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