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  • Mahla Sefati

How To Stimulate Intelligence: The Critical Years

Updated: Jan 30, 2022

Photo: Child playing. Source:

Having children who are focused and intelligent is what most parents want. They also want their children to be successful and happy as grown-ups. It is what we desire for our children, but not everyone knows about the critical role that parenting plays in a child’s early years, and how to give them the groundwork of security and attention they need in order to develop successfully.

The relationship between early childhood care and intelligence

There is an absolute and concrete relationship between intelligence and early childhood care. Parents can give their kids proper care, so they can raise and develop their potential in the best way possible. According to Jill Stamm, Ph.D., co-founder of the New Directions Institute for Infant Brain Development, it is possible to boost a child's IQ by as much as 20 to 30 points.

Photo: Child playing on tablet. Source:

Intelligence Quotient

intelligences: linguistic, logical/ mathematical, spatial, bodily or kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalist.

ABC is WHAT need ... in their early years

Besides responding to a child’s physical needs, what they need most is attention, bonding, and communication. And they need these things more consistently and earlier than most parents often provide. Providing these three important needs can lead to a higher level of IQ.


According to Stamm, attention refers to the ability to use the brain’s energy to pay attention, which is partly wired as early as age one. However, for a child, maintaining attention is no easy task. In order to develop a child’s attention system, here are a few tips:

IQ is not a fixed or objective concept. According to Stamm, IQ depends on genes, physical health, and the environmental experiences that the baby is consistently exposed to. It is also important to emphasize that intelligence can be shaped after birth. According to Howard Gardner, an American developmental psychologist, there are eight different types of

  • Give them frequent face-to-face time

  • Make a lot of eye contact during the day

  • Point out the objects and label them

Introducing a “Placemat” to the child is also a good idea for attention development. Using a mat, parents can encourage the baby to focus on where the activity will be held. The placemat should be plain colors (no colorful patterns), or else the child's attention goes to the colors, not to the activity that is provided. In this way, every time the child sees their parent is bringing the placemat, they will know that there is a fun, interesting activity waiting for them. In this way, you are priming the child for their full attention.

In a car, it is also very beneficial if parents limit the amount of time when their baby is strapped into a car seat. It lessens their range of vision to what’s directly in front of them, which makes it difficult to orient sounds that are coming from either side. Instead, they can try to take the child out when they decide to take a walk, hold the child often, carry the child on their hip, in a side sling, or a carrier seat. In this way, the child has many chances to use his natural inclination to shift attention and follow his head.

Another method for guiding attention is “no-tech time” for their family and not letting their children be exposed to any kind of screen playing such as computers or TV. These all also help children to improve their attention system.


Bonding refers to the ongoing relationship of attachment between a child and their caregiver. According to Stamm, the baby is counting on more than the food and warmth his parents provide. They cannot yet control their own feelings very well, and so, they need help to stay emotionally in balance. Children need to regulate these emotional states so that they don’t overwhelm their system.

As stated by Dr. Stamm, when parents respond to the baby’s practical and emotional needs consistently, the baby starts to form a sense of trust. Trust develops children’s intellectual potential (and how well he does in school), language development, self-control, the ability to cope with stress, and the ability to make and sustain future relationships.

For bonding improvement, parents can hold their baby during feeding and establish the habit of lap reading together. They also can encourage skin-to-skin contact and respond quickly when their baby cries. It is important to know that “In a minute” can sound like “never” to a young child.

All infants need one person in the first moments of crying. Repetitive waitings for basic needs only give them stress. It also might have some negative effects on their brain and cause some learning problems in the early years of school.


Communication refers to the development of the language system and language skills. It includes understanding speech, learning to talk, and activities that will later influence learning to read. All babies learn language starting at birth based on what they are exposed to.

Hanging photos for them to look at while in the crib, the carriage, or on the floor can encourage early visual development. Introducing music at different times of the day, singing simple songs, asking basic questions, and encouraging them to participate in the conversations are other ways that parents can enhance their child's communication skills.

Parents can make some facial expressions while reading a book and hold their kids close to themselves. It is also important to talk to children!

Photo: Child playing. Source:

The importance of play in the early childhood years

Play is crucial to physical, intellectual, and social-emotional development. The best form of play is the unstructured, self-motivated, imaginative, and independent, where infants start their own games and even invent their own games.

Through play, children can learn how to communicate and what to expect, and this may improve their social and emotional abilities. Within the play, they will also stimulate and promote their early brain development. For them, play would be compared to work.

There are ways to make raising a smart child easier through the points that were stated above. Jerome Everett Singer, an American psychologist said: “The activities that are the easiest, cheapest, and most fun to do–such as singing, playing games, reading, storytelling, and just talking and listening–are also the best for child development.”

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