Dumbing Down? New study suggests young people’s IQs are in decline.

The above title comes from a recent article following a report by Norwegian scientists Ole Rogeberg and Bernt Bratsberg that suggests that the consistent rise in IQ scores since WW2 ( by three points a decade) is now past its peak score in 1975.

This shift, they say, could be due to many factors, including the way children are brought up and educated.

It is, of course, natural for an older generation to suggest that “things were better/harder in my day”, but is there any truth to the claim?

Is there something absent from your child’s experiences at school and at home today that requires your attention to ensure a change?

Veteran educators will tell you that things have changed in schools over the decades, and some of it has been for the better. However, some of it has been detrimental to the individual student and has wrought a collective cost on society in many Western countries.

Older parents and grandparents will suggest that the dynamics of the family, and the role each person plays in it, have changed as well, again for better and for worse.

Let’s accept as a given the following:

  • keyboardThe way children are educated today is different. For example, there is less drilling in subjects like mathematics and languages.
  • The amount of time spent watching television or using technology has increased, while direct time in core classroom instruction has decreased.
  • Parents are providing their children with a wide range of experiences- club sports, piano, theater, etc that means that homework is now seen as interfering with the family routine.
  • The definition of intelligence has widened (thankfully) to recognize that we have multiple and differing types of intelligence.
  • Moreover, Dr. Rogeberg has emphasized that lower IQ should not necessarily be interpreted as stupidity, but rather children adapting to the new reality of digital technology, skills that cannot be so easily accessed or evaluated by a standardized IQ test.
  • Many schools are teaching to the lowest common denominator to avoid conflict and criticism.

So, what about your child?

Thankfully, some of the abuses inflicted on children in the past are no longer acceptable, and both child rearing and education are more enlightened and compassionate.  

However, at Confident Parenting, we believe that there is one element missing from the experience of many children that is potentially a pitfall to their future personal and professional success, and that is the absence of Accountability: “the fact of being responsible for what you do and able to give a satisfactory reason for it” (Cambridge Dictionary).

The absence of accountability in our homes and schools is a problem that today’s parents must confront in order to make progress with their children.  

Simply put, too many parents are not asking enough of their children in the ways that matter. They are quick to play the role of white knight in the schools, riding in to save the day for their child, or they cede to their children at home an equal role, often even a veto, in establishing the family routines and expectations.

Too often, parents just give in to their children for an easy life.  We do not criticize parents for this because we understand how exhausting it is to hold your ground with a screaming child.  However, we do suggest that once that pattern is set, it becomes much harder to break, and in the long run, does your child no favors.

How To Build Accountability In Your Child

  • Create Reasonable Expectations For all Family Members:  

Everyone should have a role to play in helping out.  Even small children can pick up toys at the end of the day; elementary children can set and clear the dinner table; teenage children can help with younger kids.

  • Set reasonable natural consequences when expectations are not met:

If a toy or clothes are not picked up, they disappear for a week; if the dishes are not washed, the computer is off-limits until the task is completed; if grades reflect a lack of effort, the trip to the movies is postponed until they improve.

  • Offer Paid Possibilities :

Having a list of extra things children can do in order to earn money or privileges teaches them that work pays off.  Do not become simply an ATM for your child.

  • Do Not Bribe Your Children:

Providing rewards for every behavior will make the child expect something for everything they do in life. Helping at home is simply expected.  Doing your best at school is simply expected. Occasional recognition for a job well done- a special treat- is appropriate; bribing your child is not.

  • Structure, Routine, and Consequences

Children need structure and routine to thrive.  Students do best with teachers that are strict but fair-they know what to expect. Children do best with parents that are loving but appropriately demanding- bed happens at the same time; everyone helps out; cell phones may not be in the bedroom during sleeping hours. Keep it fair, clear, and consistent.

  • Allow Natural Consequences

If your child keeps forgetting his homework, it is reasonable for a parent not to bail the child out after multiple reminders.  If your older child will not get out of bed on time, leave her to find her own way to school herself, or not, and to deal with the consequences at school.  If you keep finding his dirty clothes in his gym bag, let your son deal with wearing his unwashed clothes the next time he has a game.

  • Offer Praise and Help:

supportParents need to provide help as is appropriate.  Unless you enjoy wearing pink underwear, you will need to help your teen in the laundry process; your elementary child may need extra help in understanding math homework rather than simply not doing it.  

Perfection is the enemy of good. Do not expect perfection each time.  Where possible, learn to make do, and save your powder for those things that really, really matter to your family.

Finally, praise, praise, praise!  Research suggests that for each praise a child receives, he/she hear a dozen negatives.  For the fragile child ego, we simply cannot praise too much, although it needs to be authentic as kids quickly see through insincerity in adults.

Requiring accountability does not require a parent to behave in a draconian manner. However, it is essential for a maturing child.  Our children are not stupid; they actually are very smart, and they understand others and how to “play” them. At Confident Parenting, we partner with parents in setting the priorities and goals that will lead to family success and happiness.  Contact us today for a consultation.