By Jonny Lupsha, Wondrium Staff Writer
A toddler has qualified for Mensa, the world-famous high IQ organization. The Kentucky girl learned her alphabet and began reading at age two before taking an IQ test and earning membership to Mensa. What else are babies capable of that we don’t know?
The world’s youngest member of Mensa, the organization known the world over for its tough admission standards, is just two and a half years old. The child’s rapid development with reading inspired her parents to have her IQ tested, and the results came back in the 99th percentile, which is within the range of Mensa admission (only those with IQs in the top 2% of the world’s population qualify).
“Wunderkinds” like her have caused many to ask just how much infants and toddlers are capable of. In his video series Scientific Secrets for Raising Kids Who Thrive, Dr. Peter Vishton, Associate Professor of Psychology at William & Mary, says the answer is much more than we think.
Flushing and Washing Hands Is Another Matter
According to Dr. Vishton, one of the best examples for small children exceeding societal expectations is toilet training. Generally speaking, parents toilet train their kids between the ages of two and three, though those ages are rising due to emerging diaper technology. Toddlers don’t like the discomfort that comes from a wet diaper, but with new diapers removing much of that discomfort, many children are learning to use the bathroom at older ages.
“In the midst of this delay in toilet training, however, thousands of parents have become involved in programs to train their infants to leave the diapers behind as early as seven months of age,” he said. “Shortly after feeding times, and periodically throughout the day, a parent will help the child sit over a toilet. Usually the parent makes some sort of signaling noise—for instance, an effortful grunt or ‘sssss’ sound.”
When the infant eventually goes, the parent rewards them. Over time, the infant learns to “hold it” until toilet time. According to Dr. Vishton, there haven’t been any studies to determine the long-term effects of this, but it does serve as proof of how babies are more capable and intelligent than adults think they are.
Playing Tricks on Babies
At the very least, infants have a good sense of the basic laws of physics and abstract correlations. Testing often involves showing babies something common with an unexpected outcome and seeing how long the baby stares at it compared to how long they stare at the normal event.
“If a set of displays seems to indicate that two solid objects have passed through one another, for instance, even 3.5-month-old babies will look longer,” Dr. Vishton said. “If a baby sees an object resting on a supportive surface—say, a shelf—and then the object is pushed off the edge of the shelf, if that object simply hangs in mid-air without falling down, 5-month-olds look longer relative to baseline preferences.”
If babies see side-by-side images of a male face and a female face and they hear a female voice speaking, they will look at the female face longer, indicating the correlation of images and sounds. Their awareness of inertia and causation is even apparent based on rolling one ball at another. If the first ball stops before impact and the second ball moves anyway, babies will watch the event longer than if the first ball is rolled into the second normally, stopping the first ball after impact.
Suddenly my Mensa membership feels a little less special.