Want a smarter child?

A new meta-analysis (an analysis of several research studies, in this case, 70) seems to show that adding Omega 3 Fish oil to your child’s diet, getting them into a good preschool or an early learning program, and doing some one-on-one interactive reading with them can really boost your child’s I.Q.

So, what doesn’t work, according to the researchers?

Multi-vitamins and music (!) for starters. (I know plenty of parents who would say music, in fact, does make kids smarter.)

The New York University study was recently published in Perspectives on Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. If you check out the comments section in the link to the article (often our favorite part of an online article) you’ll see that there are plenty of disgruntled commentators, many of whom make excellent points.

As usual, we have some questions:

Is the I.Q. test, which has its detractors and supporters, valid and/or reliable?

Are there other indicators of intelligence that might not show up in I.Q. tests that parents feel are just as important as traditional smarts? For example, emotional intelligence, moral intelligence, and so on? (And is emotional intelligence valid and/or reliable?)

Did the researchers do a good job of analyzing the earlier studies for effectiveness, reliability, etc.? Meta-analyses are only as good as the earlier studies they’re built on (and we’ve written about the sharp eye the public and journalists need to keep on research studies).

Does the I.Q. point jump last into adulthood and manifest in important ways in the individual’s life experiences?

Some of our own suggestions for “smarter” kids?

If you value creative talents, academic success and the life-of-the mind in your home, the chances are good that your children will appreciate then too. But don’t expect them to mirror you totally, each child is an individual with their own predilections and talents. You might appreciate the arts, your child might be a natural athlete instead.

Happy, healthy, kids that function well (even averagely) without being geniuses might very well be able to handle life’s challenges better than brilliant, above-average in intelligence kids who are unhappy and aren’t able to cope with difficulties.

Emotional intelligence (being sensitive to others’ needs and having friends, having the ability to control one’s emotions when it is healthy to do so, remaining optimistic yet realistic during difficult times, and so on) is as important as intellectual/academic intelligence.

Parents who set firm, healthy, and loving boundaries may find their children feel safer, more stable, and more able to cope with academic, physical, and social challenges (whether or not they are super-smart or average.)

Yes, nutrition is so important! Regular, healthy meals help keep blood-sugar levels normal and help to facilitate physical growth and emotional well-being. Sitting down together at mealtimes at least once a day can have a lasting impact on family relationships. This is a good time for interaction between adults and children which can give children new perspectives and insights into whatever it is they are thinking about or going through.