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Revealing IQ Scores

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D


Q: Could you tell me why I should or should not reveal my child's IQ score to them? I have someone that would really like to know, but most psychologist advice against this. I just want to know the reasoning against this, since one of the number one gripes of gifted kids is that they don't know what it means to be gifted and that everything about it is almost secretive.

A: Usually, psychologists do not encourage revealing IQ scores to children, unless there is a good reason to, which is not very common apart from perhaps curiosity on the child's part. Therefore, you may need to weigh out how necessary it is to reveal the scores, as in what benefit would it bring to the child. The main reason against this is labeling; IQ scores are usually used for placement purposes and helping in identifying best educational support for different ranges within the IQ cut-off groups.

Furthermore, it also depends on the maturity on the child. It can cause sibling rivalry amongst very competitive children and competition with others as well. Lower scores may make a child feel inadequate educationally and causes low self-esteem. On the other hand, it may help a child understand her/his intellectual capabilities and areas of strength and weaknesses. Hence, it really depends on the maturity of the child handling the scores and how parents explain the scores to the child.

Perhaps, parents can let their children know that there is really no big deal on what a score may be; you love them just the way they are. What may be important is that they have appropriate educational experiences. The scores, no matter what they are would help parents and the school decide what the best educational program is for them. Parents too need to stay very calm about test scores, over excitement/disappointment are very easy for children to pick up. That would make them feel that your feelings for them may be dependent on their scores.

Therefore, if you plan to reveal scores to them, let them know that you love and value them no matter how they perform on the test. Having said that, knowing IQ score does not really help a child understand what it means to be gifted. IQ scores are just scores for a set of abilities tested that perhaps helps in deciding suitable educational programs at school. A lower IQ score does not indicate that a child is not gifted. Giftedness today is much broader that just IQ scores alone and it really is no longer secretive. Best wishes. 


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