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Study Says a Mom's Support Is the Key to Her Child's Intelligence

Photograph by Twenty20

We all want our kids to succeed. We buy them the right books, the right toys, the right apps all in hopes that we can nurture their intelligence. And of course, who doesn't want their kid to be smart? Intelligence can take you a long, long way in this data-driven culture in which we live, so nurturing intelligence in our children is one of the most positive things that we can do for their future.

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But what if all the of these teaching toys and games are doing as much good as we think? What if we're missing out on the biggest key to our children's brain growth?

A recent study has shown that the most effective way to bolster our kids' intelligence really has nothing to do with stimuli from the outside world. It's nothing that we buy or read or study. It's totally free, and if you are a mother it's what you were built to do anyway.

The key to kids' intelligence? Maternal support.

Your support should look like a mother who can follow through with her responsibilities but can also make time to hear out her child's frustrations.

This recent study placed mothers in a situation where they had to complete a task while stopping their child from opening a gift. This scenario was created to mimic the everyday experience of a mother trying to maintain her composure and tend to her own responsibilities while still offering support to her child. The moms who were able to keep their calm and offer emotional support to their kids while still completing their tasks were considered to be nurturing and supportive, for the sake of this study.

Brain scans were performed on the 127 children involved in the study from pre-K to early adolescence. The kids whose moms managed to be more supportive than average had more brain growth in the hippocampus then children of the moms who were not quite so nurturing.

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The hippocampus is a small organ within the temporal lobe that is largely responsible for the regulation of emotion and is also associated with memory and spatial navigation. So yeah, the hippocampus is a big deal and the biggest thing that you can do to nurture your child's intelligence is to just be supportive.

And the kind of support measured in this study looks a lot like empathy. It's more than just looking at your child and saying "I support you." Your support has to mean something to your child. Your support should look like a mother who can follow through with her responsibilities but can also make time to hear out her child's frustrations.

Oh sure, buy all the educational apps that you want, but at the end of the day what really matters is that your child knows that they matter to you.

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