Up to 25 percent of your child's intelligence can be attributed to genetics, according to one study. But there's a lot you can do to improve their mental agility, from encouraging a child to focus on their work to ensuring they have a regular sleep schedule. So read on to discover 11 simple ways you can boost your child's IQ in little ways.
1. Reduce cellphone use
Too much blue light from your smartphone and tablet screens can cause your child's eyes to become tired, so make sure they keep their phones out of sight when they're at home. Some research even suggests using a blue filter on your computer could help protect your child's eyes.
2. Increase movement
A 2014 study found children who spent more time on their feet had higher IQs and had a smaller association between BMI and intelligence than children who spent more time sitting. If your child has issues with muscle tone, you should encourage them to be more physically active — even if it's just taking the dog for a walk.
3. Take more risks
According to a 2014 study, facing your fears (by taking on bigger jobs at work, for example) might boost your child's brainpower. If you'd rather keep your child calm and safe, try encouraging them to do more creative or mental tasks, such as drawing, reading, or playing with new toys.
4. Keep them occupied
Some research has suggested that your child's brain might learn better when they're not distracted. While you shouldn't be constantly asking your child to be creative, you should keep them occupied. Incorporating simple repetitive tasks into your day will keep your child mentally sharp — as long as you're a considerate parent, that is.
5. Limit screen time
Excessive screen time is linked to mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), so try not to let your child spend too much time staring at screens. The AARP also notes that research has shown that excessive use of smartphones may negatively impact a child's sleep. In addition, they may also be a distraction when you're trying to talk to them. So switch to a hands-free device, or turn off your child's device altogether when they're not using it.
6. Tell them how intelligent they are
Although research hasn't established that constantly telling a child they're smart will have any effect, experts say it can make them feel more confident. It could even enhance their self-esteem, so don't be afraid to tell them how smart they are.
7. Go for daily exercise
Another area where your child's intelligence could be boosted is by regular exercise. A 2012 study found that aerobic exercise improved children's verbal skills as well as their non-verbal intelligence. Regular exercise can even protect against Alzheimer's. But it's important to make exercise a priority, especially if your child is already very active, like in hockey or soccer.
8. Make them read
Keep your children reading at home. Of course, this is the easiest thing to do, but you should make sure they read something they enjoy. It could be a classic novel you enjoyed as a child, or a new publication they're interested in. You could also introduce your child to a family member's favorite book, or even buy them their own copy to share with you.
7. Take charge of your child's stress.
Having high levels of stress is associated with lower IQs, so if your child has problems with obsessive behavior, consider working with a therapist to get your child's life under control.
10. Be their cheerleader
Surveys show that positive reinforcement is a more effective method of teaching a child. Studies suggest that positive reinforcement is more effective than punishment in boosting IQ, and most studies also show that praising a child's positive behavior in front of a group makes them more likely to repeat the same behavior. As for negative reinforcement, people are less likely to repeat undesirable behaviors if their peers are also subjecting them to the same treatment.
11. Support their literacy
Don't just point out to your child the words on the page — help them sound them out, too. And, if possible, you should get your child to read with you.
Many experts recommend reading aloud to children, such as the National Center for Reading Development, part of the U.S. Department of Education, which recommends that parents read aloud and use natural voices to help children develop fine-motor skills.
They also advise parents to continue reading to their children until they start school.