Raising healthier, smarter and more resilient kids is something that all parents strive for. And if you are a parent you’re probably wondering where to begin.
Statistics show that 50-80% of a child’s academic success depends on the parents’ genetics. But don’t get disappointed yet! In spite of this high inherent percentage, there is still room for parents to contribute and help their children grow into smart and successful adults.
In order to do that, you must first understand when and where children are starting academically and what areas need the most work. So, here are some facts supported by statistics to give you an idea of where to start.
Genetics as a Factor for Raising Smart Kids
1. 50%-80% of the intelligence in kids is inherited and the rest is connected to environmental factors.
(The University of Edinburgh)
Intelligence is a complicated concept to measure, and researchers have debated for generations about what it means. However, one study on twin genetics has shown that more than half of a person’s intelligence is determined by their genes. However, only 30% of those are familiar to the scientists and the rest are unknown.
Another study on GCSE score variations has shown that genetics influenced how children performed academically on subjects like math, language, art but other subjects, too. In spite of these studies, the environment can greatly influence how your child will use those inherited skills, because talent without practice is a talent lost, right? So, parents need to keep providing their children with educational opportunities, regardless of what his or her genes might be predisposed toward.
2. Smart kids are more prone to experiencing mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
(National Center for Biotechnology Information)
20% of Mensa members have an anxiety disorder diagnosis, and researchers found that they all experience high levels of stress and anxiety. Although it’s unclear why these two conditions tend to go hand-in-hand, we do know that higher intelligence is associated with increased worry, stress and overthinking. Despite this, it’s important to remember that just because your child is smart doesn’t mean they are more likely to develop mental health issues.
3. In 2020, 5.6 million kids were diagnosed with anxiety disorders, and 2.4 million were diagnosed with depression.
(Georgetown University Health Policy Institute)
This adds up to 9.2% and 4%, respectively. Although it’s unclear why there has been such a significant increase in mental health issues among children and adolescents, there are many different factors that could be contributing to this problem.
Namely, 1 in 14 kids have at least one parent with mental health issues. As parents, it is crucial that we focus on building our kids’ emotional resilience and work to create a supportive environment at home.
4. A NASA study found that 98 percent of kids aged five had genius-level imaginative abilities, but by age ten, only 30 percent could still make that claim.
(Twenty One Toys; Frontiersin)
It’s widely known that children are incredibly imaginative, but the extent of their creativity is astonishing. However, over time and due to environmental factors, many kids lose this ability as they grow older. There are some studies that suggest that imagination and creativity are connected to high IQs, which is why it’s so important to foster these qualities when our kids are young. By encouraging them to think outside the box and try new things, we can help ensure that they don’t lose this natural ability as they grow older.
Environmental Stimulus as a Factor
5. A study conducted by British scientists has found that poverty is the most influential factor on well a child will perform in life.
(Helen Pearson on TED Talks)
A study conducted by British scientists over the span of many years and following the lives of over 70,000 children has found that poverty was the most significant factor that impacted how children will perform in life. In other words, children born into poor families were more likely to stay poor and to grow into disadvantaged adults. Poverty also affected their educational performance.
6. Poor children who spent quality time with their parents (talking, listening, reading) were likely to perform 50% better in school than poor children who didn’t.
(Helen Pearson on TED Talks)
This same study has found that as with everything, there are exceptions to these unanimous results. One way for a child to become an exception is by receiving undivided attention from their parents. If the parents are involved in their children’s early ages by talking to them, listening, reading and showing attention, then children have 50% better chance to perform better academically.
7. On average, the kids who lived in areas with higher levels of vegetation or visited nature often saw their IQ score increase by 2.6 points.
(Smart Green Post)
A study made by a team at Belgium’s Hasselt University has shown that children who live in areas with higher levels of vegetation or regularly visit nature have a 3% increase of IQ from those kids who don’t. The study concluded that spending time in nature can improve cognitive development, as well as memory and attention span, which is great for kids with ADHD.
Parents can take advantage of the frequent walks in nature and teach their children about the world around them. This helps children to learn colors as early as in their infancy.
8. One in three children in the USA has never climbed a tree.
(International Journal of Early Childhood Environmental Education)
That’s roughly 25% of the children in America, according to a study conducted by the Nature Conservancy. Overall, just 31% of kids have spent time climbing trees each year, which is crucial for them to develop their spatial awareness, muscle strength, head and eye coordination, as well as concentration and patience.
9. A new study found that schoolchildren who did cardio and muscle-strengthening exercises 3 times a week scored higher on intelligence tests.
The logic behind this is that physical activity improves blood flow to the brain. It’s found that students who engaged in high-intensity cardio and muscle-strengthening exercises for 45 minutes 3 times a week scored higher on intelligence tests than those who did not engage in these types of physical activities. This is great news for parents who want to raise smarter kids, as it shows that even moderate amounts of exercise can have a significant impact on cognitive development.
10. In the United States, approximately 1 in 9 children between the ages 5 and 14 walk or bike to and from school.
That rounds up to 11% of the US school children that walk or bike to and from school, which according to researchers is more than half of the number who did it back in 1969. Statistics show that nowadays, more than 50% of school kids are taken to school by their family, and around 33% went by school bus. Considering the previous statistics on the importance of exercise for kids’ health, parents should look for ways to provide more opportunities for exercise for their children if walking or biking to school is not an option.
11. Playing a musical instrument can raise the general IQ by an average of 7 points.
(Online School Center)
Music can help develop spatial-temporal intelligence, which is one of several types of intelligence, along with linguistic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, bodily-kinesthetic and naturalistic. Other studies have shown that music training can also improve memory and attention skills. In the last year in the USA, around 85% of children play some kind of musical instrument.
12. Learning a new language can improve your child’s overall cognitive abilities, giving them a significant advantage in school.
(India Today; The British Academy)
While there is much debate about the best age to start learning a second language, it’s clear that exposing children to different languages can be incredibly beneficial for their development. Not only does it help improve their vocabulary and listening skills, but studies have shown that bilingual kids tend to have higher overall cognitive abilities and perform better in school than their monolingual counterparts.
13. Only 28% of American parents give their children chores even though 82% of them had chores while growing up.
Chores are associated with higher IQ scores, particularly in children with ADHD. This may be due to the fact that doing chores helps children develop self-control and executive functioning skills. Furthermore, according to one study, kids who are regularly given chores tend to have higher levels of self-esteem and less anxiety than their peers. Although it may be difficult, starting kids on chores at 3 or 4 years old is crucial.
14. Research found that children enrolled in kindergarten were twice as likely to enroll in college than kids who weren’t.
(13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do: Raising Self-Assured Children and Training Their Brains for a Life of Happiness, Meaning, and Success” by Amy Morin. Scribd.)
By going to kindergarten, children learn prosocial skills and emotional intelligence. Being surrounded with other kids, they learn to communicate, collaborate and share which are valuable life and career skills.
46% of children who attended kindergarten were likely to obtain a job by the age of 25 in comparison to those who didn’t. This is mostly due to the lack of cooperation, listening and trouble-solving skills that are usually learnt in kindergarten.
Children’s Diet as a Factor
15. Children who ate a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and meat at age 3 had higher IQ scores at age 8.5.
On the contrary, kids who consumed fast food, processed food and drank a lot of soda drinks tended to have lower IQ scores than their peers. This is likely because unhealthy diets and poor nutrition can cause brain inflammation, which has been linked with decreased cognitive performance. Proper nutrition is essential for cognitive development and can help your child gain an advantage in school. Encouraging your child to eat healthy foods can go a long way towards helping them reach their full potential.
16. According to a study done by the American government, over ⅓ of all children are overweight, with 19.7% being obese.
This is a disturbing statistic, as being overweight or obese has been linked to decreased cognitive performance. Children who are overweight or obese often face many barriers, such as social stigma and discrimination, which can negatively impact their mental health. As parents, it’s important that we do everything we can to help our children stay healthy and vibrant both physically and mentally.
17. There are studies that suggest that breastfeeding is linked with higher IQ scores in later life.
One study found that children who were breastfed for at least 6 months scored on average 7 points higher on IQ tests than those who were bottle-fed. There are likely a number of reasons for this association, including the fact that breast milk contains many important nutrients and hormones that are critical for brain development. Also, breastfeeding is associated with developing the social intelligence in kids, due to the fact that looking in the eyes of the one who feeds you is a very powerful stimulation for the baby brain.
Parent-Child Quality Time as a Factor
18. 42% of first-graders said that social relationships are the most important thing in their life.
(Smart Parenting for Smart Kids: Nurturing Your Child’s True Potential” by Eileen Kennedy-Moore. Scribd.)
It seems that the amount of quality time that parents spend with their children is not going unnoticed. First-graders reported that they value their social relationships (family and friends) much more than their hobbies and sports (21%).
There are so many ideas on activities that parents can do with their children regardless of the age and having one as a family tradition will yield a lifetime value for you and your children.
19. Parents who have conversations with their babies from birth to age 3 help impact their IQ and verbal abilities, later on in adolescence.
LENA researchers found that the more parents talk with their kids from birth to 3 years old, the higher their IQ and verbal abilities are at age 13. This shows us that early childhood is a crucial time period for language development and learning, as it impacts our long-term cognitive abilities. As parents, it’s important that we engage in frequent conversations with our children and encourage their language development from a young age.
20. Around 52% of parents read to their infants and babies on a daily basis.
While this is encouraging, it’s still not enough. Studies have shown that reading to children from a very young age can help improve their cognitive abilities and prepare them for success in school. This makes it essential for all parents to make reading a daily habit for themselves and their kids, no matter how busy they may be. By setting aside just a few minutes each day to read with your child, you can help them reach their full potential.
21. Research has shown that students with high emotional intelligence are less likely to experience bullying.
In America, approximately 20% of students aged 12-18 have been bullied at some point during the school year. Bullying can have a significant impact on students’ academic performance and long-term quality of life, which is why it’s so important to focus on building positive relationships with our children. Emotional intelligence has been linked with stronger social skills and better communication, so it’s crucial that we foster these qualities in our kids.
The Use of Electronic Devices as a Factor
22. By the time children turn 2, 90% of them have used the internet in some form.
(The WHS Howl)
Contrary to popular belief, children are actually quite tech-savvy and are quickly growing up in a digital world. While there are many concerns about the negative effects of technology on kids’ development, it’s important that we recognize the benefits as well. There is evidence to suggest that using the internet at a young age can improve cognitive abilities and language skills. However parents should beware of the dangers lurking on children’s devices, and take measures to protect their children.
23. According to a survey, 54% of kids think their parents use devices like smartphones and tablets too much.
According to statistics on average daily screen time, parents spend approximately 2 hours and 17 minutes on their phone which is almost the same as the time they spend screen-free with their children (2 hours 41 minutes). Parents today are increasingly feeling the pressure to be constantly connected and easily available, which can often leave our kids feeling neglected and ignored.
As children grow older, they start to recognize this imbalance in their parents’ behavior and voice their concerns. This is why it’s so important that we make an effort to put down our devices and focus on spending quality time with our children. By creating a supportive home environment that encourages emotional connection, we can help ensure our kids feel loved and supported no matter what.
24. 47% of kids in the U.S. spend 3 to 5 hours per day on their electronic devices – same as their parents.
According to AACAP, children between the age of 8 and 12 spent 4-6 hours a day on screen time, with teens spending even up to 9 hours in 2020. Overusing the Internet can lead to negative effects in children such as sleep problems, obesity, violence, lower grades, anxiety, depression, and more.
However, when used correctly and in moderation, the internet can actually help improve a child’s academic performance and social skills. As a matter of fact there are some educational games and videos such as Blippi’s that are designed specifically for children that can help them learn new skills and stay engaged.
As we can see, there are many different factors that influence how smart our kids grow up to be. Whether it’s using the internet at a young age or trying out different parenting styles, there are many things we can do as parents to help ensure that our children become successful and intelligent adults.
So if you’re looking for ways to raise healthier, smarter and more resilient kids, the key is to stay positive, embrace technology, and focus on building strong relationships. By creating a supportive environment at home and encouraging your kids to be curious and adventurous, you can help ensure that they reach their full potential!
American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry | Center for Disease Control and Prevention | The University of Edinburgh | Cafe Mom | Futurity | Frontiers | Georgetown University Health Policy Institute | Helen Pearson on TED Talks | India Today | Intellectual Takeout | Kaspersky | National Library of Medicine | North American Association for Environmental Education | Online Schools Center | Profith | Psych Central | Red Book | Smart Green Post | SRTS Guide | Science Daily | Scholastic | The Guardian | Twenty One Toys | The British Academy | The Daily Star | Tiny Beans | The WHS Howl | Wilmington Parent | Windweek Geek |