11 Early Signs Your Kid Will Be Smart
From the moment your child is born, they are nothing short of extraordinary in your eyes. Each milestone only serves to further reaffirm your beliefs that your little one is surely a genius but, while they are definitely gifted in your eyes, are reaching developmental milestones actually early signs your kid will be smart? It’s not quite that simple.
There have been plenty of jokes made in film and television (an episode of Portlandia about a preschooler named Grover comes to mind) about parents so focused on their child's future success that they begin to prep them for the Ivy League before they're even potty-trained. If your baby is walking before any of their peers that’s great news, but it doesn’t mean they’ll be walking across their high school graduation stage with a scholarship waiting for them.
“Intelligence doesn't become more stable and crystalized until age 6 or 7," Han Ren, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist and specialist in school psychology, tells Romper. "Kids can demonstrate high intelligence at an early age, such as preschool, but it’s not a reliable predictor of future intelligence," she explains, adding, "on the other hand, the obtained IQ of a 7-year-old is likely to remain mostly steady throughout the remainder of their lifespan.”
It’s also important to note that even IQ tests can be misleading. “These assessment instruments are Eurocentric, heavily loaded on verbal ability, and imperfect measurement devices for culturally and linguistically diverse youth," says Dr. Ren. "Our society upholds the values of white supremacy at every level, including intelligence assessment, which means many gifted black and brown kids aren't going to be picked up by these tests."
So while no early behaviors or test results will guarantee your kid's future, there are still some signs to look out for when your child is younger so you can help nurture their blossoming brain.
1. Their Memory Is Exceptional
Your baby might just give an elephant a run for their money if they seem to be exhibiting signs of strong memory skills. “Having a detailed memory” is an early sign of intelligence, according to Dr. Ren; an infant with advanced memory skills might remember where a toy was hidden or quickly recognize faces and locations, explained the New Kid Center.
2. They've Got "The Look"
You might think your kid is throwing you some serious shade, but it could actually be they're just flexing their focusing skills. Dr. Deborah L. Ruf, an educational consultant, told The Huffington Post that brighter children start watching and paying attention early in life. So how can you tell what is concentration and what's just staring? "They absorb from their environment so much, adults are often surprised at what they already know,” she said. Kids often know more than they let on.
3. They Make Informational Links
As an adult, if you see someone turn on the oven, you assume they’re getting ready to bake something; when they serve you fresh brownies an hour later, you’re not wondering where in the world they came from. But while you've witnessed the baking of countless batches of brownies, a gifted child who's never seen a brownie before might still be able to figure out it was the end result of a process that started when you turned on the oven. “Connecting new information to previously learned knowledge, especially across different domains” is an early sign of giftedness, says Dr. Ren.
4. They Roll With An Older Crowd
Does your child tend to flourish in environments with kids who are older with them or even other grown-ups? British Mensa's gifted child consultant, Lyn Kendall, told the BBC, "gifted children often prefer the company of older children or adults." Advanced kids not only feel comfortable around the older crowd, they're also learning from them.
5. They Can Hold A Conversation Early On
Language skills really do play a role in discerning intelligence in kids. According to Dr. Ren, if your little one has “a rich and expansive vocabulary,” then you may want to be on alert. In fact, according to the Davidson Institute (an education foundation for advanced children), "early and prolific use of language is typical in profoundly gifted children."
6. They Don't Sleep Well
Whether you have a newborn or a school-aged child, if they don't sleep well, it can be frustrating for the whole family. But there actually could be a silver lining to all the late nights. Ruf told The Huffington Post that gifted children are usually poor sleepers because their brain is so stimulated it's difficult to fall asleep.
7. Their Personality Is Bold
Being a wallflower is never a bad thing and several historical figures were introverts, but if your child is lively at a young age, that could indicate high intelligence. Mensa's Kendall told the BBC that a developed sense of humor and social skills are signs your child is gifted.
8. They Have The Feels
If your child mourns squashed bugs and rushes to comfort crying babies, their big heart might be linked to a big brain. Dr. Ren explains that “demonstrating compassion and empathy for others” is an early sign of “giftedness with others.”
“The ability to share, play with others, show compassion, resolve conflicts, accept feedback/redirection, and compromise are way more important predictors of life success” than traditional 'book smart' gifts," she says.
9. They're Wiggle Worms
Lots of kids have a surplus of energy just waiting to be burned, but if your kid has been a mover and shaker from day one, they might be gifted. Dr. Hillary Hettinger Steiner and Dr. Martha Carr told Very Well that a need for mental and physical stimulation is a sign of intelligence. So if your infant was constantly wanting to change positions or your child gets bored quickly, they're probably gifted.
10. They Love Hobbies
Is your child exceptionally focused on a specific subject or loves learning about particular areas of interest? According to the Baby Center, your preschooler may be gifted if they have a specific talent, like artistic ability or an ease with numbers. And kids who love “solving puzzles and brain teasers readily” are showing early signs of intelligence, says Dr. Ren. So maybe there's more to your kid's hobby than meets the eye.
11. You're A Bit Of A Smarty Pants Yourself
"The greatest predictor of gifted children is gifted parents,” says Dr. Ren. While it’s not the only factor in a child’s intelligence, genes definitely play a significant role. So if you excel in certain areas or subjects, chances are your kids will follow in your footsteps.
Han Ren, Ph.D., licensed psychologist and specialist in school psychology
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