Please Don’t Let Toddlers In Mensa Be A Thing

mensa kidsIn 2009, a two-and-a-half-year-old little boy named Oscar Wrigley became the youngest person to ever join Mensa. Last year, little Heidi Hankins became the youngest female, at age 4, to be welcomed into the brainy brigade. And now, we have yet another super-smart toddler whose parents just can’t wait to show him off! Let’s all congratulate Sherwyn Sarabis, the 3-year-old little guy from South Yorkshire who can count 200 and name every country in the world, on being the newest pint-sized prodigy.

Seriously parents, can we all agree that toddlers in Mensa does not need to be a thing? IQ-testing our infants should not become a trend. The high-IQ society already has roughly 100 members under the age of 10 and I seriously doubt they need much more.

There is no question that these little ones are impressive. Sherwyn’s tested IQ was 136. It’s a ways behind Heidi’s 159, but still well above average intelligence, which ranks at about 100. These kids are reading early. They’re doing complex math. They’re interested in world events. They can probably hold their own in any adult conversation.

That’s all wonderful. But it should not be the sum of their existence. “Being smart,” should not be all they have to think about at the age of three. These kids will have plenty of time to join a society of slightly pretentious, like-minded individuals when they’re older.  They’ll be able to decide if joining the “gifted and talented community” is right for them.

However, I think the best thing these parents could do for their kids is to let them stay young as long as possible. Let them be kids, whatever that youthful immaturity means for them. I’m not saying that every child is going to want to run around on the playground mindlessly for hours. You can’t force extremely intelligent offspring to enjoy menial games, just like you can’t force a child of normal intelligence to appreciate the world news.

That being said, there’s lots of support to be had out there for intelligent children that will still allow them to interact with their peers. There’s more to raising a gifted child then having them take a test and get pictures taken holding a plaque.

I don’t want to downplay Sherwyn’s accomplishments. I’m sure he is a really amazing little boy. I just don’t want to see a ton of children thrust into this world of competitive intellectual achievement so early. Toddlers have nothing to prove. They don’t need a Mensa membership.

(Photo: Angela Waye/Shutterstock)

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  • K.

    I’d never heard of the organization until I met my husband, who’s a bit too into himself as a member. I’m not a member myself but we get the magazines and stuff and I find the self-congratulatory concept annoying, so I say, go ahead, Mensa–let in all the 2-year-olds you want! Go ahead, make a farce out of yourselves.

    Intelligence without wisdom…Sounds like Mensa.

  • CrazyFor Kate

    Every parent should know this: building up your kid’s perceived intelligence from an early age is one of the biggest curses you can give them, and your MENSA kid is going to lose out to those with better social skills and work ethic unless you work twice as hard to build those areas as well. Intelligence has so little to do with success, I don’t see why parents would knock themselves out to push kids into a classification that may ultimately be more damaging than beneficial.

    • once upon a time

      While MENSA might not be the answer, if a child is highly intelligent, a lack of stimulation can be torture.

  • Eileen

    There are gifted and talented programs – that pair advanced six-year-olds with other advanced six-year-olds – and then there are three-year-olds in Mensa. You know what? I can count way higher than 200, and I can name all the countries in the world. I don’t consider either of those things to be a particular accomplishment because I am an adult. The things that highly intelligent, educated children talk about are just not the same as the things that highly intelligent, educated adults talk about, so if the point is a community of like-minded people, letting in three-year-olds just isn’t gonna cut it.

  • bumbler

    I don’t know of any academics or intellectuals who actually take Mensa seriously.

  • Vikky

    Wasn’t Heidi the little girl who was diagnosed by her doctor & school as being retarded because she was visually or hearing impaired? Mensa offered to test her for free to help the mom prove she was “normal” and then said “congrats, she’s way above normal!”

    The news media picked up the ‘Mensa-child’ angle, but not the ‘discrimination against visually/hearing impaired child’ angle. Typical!

  • K.T.

    I understand where you are coming from in this article, however, if a child is truly gifted and their intellect is not nurtured, you are doing the child a disservice. Mensa offers a lot of developmental support for gifted children who already feel out of place from their peers, even as early as 3. It’s easy to talk about gifted children not needing this much attention if you do not have a gifted child, but if you do have a gifted child there are a lot of struggles that both the child and parent will face. Gifted children should be educated differently, so as to foster their intellect, instead of hinder it because it makes others feel uncomfortable.