Child IQ – Why Confidence Matters

Intellectual functioning has a significant relationship to the child’s confidence in his or her abilities. Both intellect and self confidence interact with, and to a great extent, originate from personal experience. It is through experience with the world by which the child acquires self-confidence in his or her thought processes. Although ‘confidence’ in one’s self efficacy in terms of intellectual ability may seem nebulous, attempts have been made to define and codify it as a measurable concept.

There is a measure on the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) that pertains to working memory, or memory applied to specific intellectual skills as measured by the WISC sub-tests. Working memory – as measured on the WISC – approaches a measurement of confidence because we know intuitively that the ability to remember relies on confidence. Self-confidence will allow an individual child to react competently to intellectual tasks, and this will add to IQ scores.

Confidence and intellectual curiosity depends on strong, healthy, and positive relationships with caregivers. Clearly, an emotionally healthy child will have a better foundation to explore and investigate the world than one deprived of experiential richness. Confidence and intellectual success reinforce each other. Any child who has confidence in his or her cognitive abilities will hypothetically score higher on IQ tests. Of course, genetic traits also affect intelligence.

“Test anxiety” might assume dramatic proportions when it is examined within the broader context of an individual’s relationship to the world in general. It might be argued that the environment affects one’s confidence in one’s intellectual abilities in a significant way, simply because an intellectually stimulating environment is known to enhance intelligence to for a curious child, and curiosity is an aspect of a confident child. And, more curious children are more confident than ones with a restricted vision.

Piaget’s terms, “assimilation” and “accommodation”, can be construed as the major conceptual components of intelligence. Assimilation and accommodation represent the ability to manipulate information regarding concepts and categories. For example, one may define an apple as fitting into the category of ‘fruit’, and then encounter an orange. Fitting the orange into the category of ‘fruit’ represents assimilation, a broadening of a category. If one encounters a cabbage that does not fit the category of fruit, one may then create a new category for ‘vegetables’. This represents accommodation. Clearly, memory and internalization of concepts rely to some extent on one’s present frame of mind. The frame of mind of a confident child may allow that child to build intellectual skills in a multiplicity of ways that relate to the child’s environment and genetic endowments. A much less confident child may lack the resilience to assimilate and accommodate new information into any existing cognitive model.

Although many factors interact with genetic endowment to produce a child’s intellectual capacity, the environmental component of intelligence is strong. In particular, confidence and cognitive association are hypothesized to be fundamental in formulating critical aspects of intelligence. Healthy, secure relationships within one’s environment enhance intelligence, both directly and by heightening self confidence. Memory is an important component of intelligence that varies with the quality of the care-giving environment. When a child approaches the world with a secure basis, he or she will be better able to assimilate and accommodate incoming information.

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Ann Reitan, PsyD

Ann Reitan, PsyD, is a clinical psychologist and well published essayist of fiction and creative nonfiction. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from University of Washington, Master of Arts in Psychology from Pepperdine University, and Doctorate of Clinical Psychology from Alliant International University. Her post-doctoral research at Washington University in St. Louis, MO, involved personality theory, idiodynamics and creativity in literature. She recently published Illuminating Schizophrenia: Insights into the Uncommon Mind.
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