As you hold that little bundle of joy in your arms, you are amazed at all the things they already seem to be able to do. And right from the start you worry am I doing enough to help them reach their full potential on the road of life. The truth is no child comes with an instruction book and each one has their own unique personality that sometimes you will succeed at figuring out and sometimes you won’t, however, there are a few things that remain true in helping your children to grow up into emotionally and intellectually intelligent individuals.
Infants and small children learn a great deal in the first years from simply being spoken too. You may think it’s silly to hold a conversation with an infant when in all likely hood they don’t understand you and can’t vocally respond to you either. However, research like that done by Dr. Lise Eliot a leading researcher in neuroscience has shown that talking to infants and small children helps to develop their verbal communication skills and gives children a greater range of vocabulary skills. It doesn’t really matter what you talk to your child about but try and keep it simple so they can relate the conversation to what is going on around them. If you are making them lunch talk about what you are doing and the food you are preparing, if you are getting them dressed talk about their body parts and the clothes that cover them.
Remember that even though television seems like it would be a great source of communication it is only one way communication and it doesn’t have the same effect on a child’s growing development that human interaction has. So turn off the TV and just take some time to talk to your little ones, it’s such a simple thing but makes such a big difference in their development.
Children need to learn to interact with others in order to better understand the world around them. Although many times we tend to put a great emphasis on intellectual intelligence social and emotional intelligence is just as important. We’ve all heard stories or perhaps experienced it in our own lives, working or being around people with exceptional intelligence that wind up working in an area below their means because they didn’t have the social skills needed to live up to their full intellectual potential. Dr. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek is a leading researcher in early childhood development and has conducted research on the importance of social interaction in young children and infants. She states that not only should children have social interaction with other children but other people of varying ages. This is because each person will interact with the child differently. Where a father might be more physical in his interaction with a small child a grandmother will have her own unique way of holding the child or speaking to them. How each person plays with or comforts the child will be different lending to the child understanding a broader range of social interactions.
Good nutrition is not just about growing the body but it is also about growing the mind. Children who suffer from poor nutrition at a young age have a harder time with intellectual development. Although they have not narrowed down any specific nutrients that make a person more intelligent then another, good overall nutrition does play a dramatic role in better intelligence. The studies done by Dr. Reynaldo Martorell’s on under or poor nutrition on young children have recorded the dramatic effects of nutrition on development. Dr. Martorell says that when the body lacks good nutrition it must make a decision regarding what to do with the limited amount of foodstuffs that it receives. Survival is the most important, growth of the body comes second and then learning and intelligence comes third. Because of this pre-programmed pattern of our body it is very important to make sure that children get a well-balanced and nutritious diet to help them achieve their greatest intellectual potential.
Just as important to development as social interaction is personal time and space. If children are not allotted their own down time they can have difficulty understanding themselves and their place in social settings. Down time gives children the time to process things they have seen and heard throughout the day. Children and infants also need alone time to learn to think on their own, to entertain themselves and even comfort themselves. This learning process is critical to emotional, social, and intellectual development according to the findings of Dr. Hirsh-Pasek.
The most important thing to remember when setting out on that road raising you children to be smart is to remember that loving and nurturing your child is the best way to go. Most parents worry that they will do the wrong thing, but in truth there are so many ways to raise a child and most are correct. Talking and interacting with your child on a continuing basis as well as encouraging those around you to do the same, feeding your child a well-balanced diet and giving them some needed down time will all contribute to a well-rounded child that is both emotionally intelligent and intellectually smart.