How to use a raisin to predict if your child’s going to be clever

Resisting scoffing a currant for 60 seconds could mean your child's a genius

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How’s this for a simple but brilliant test? A study carried out by the University of Warwick – where 20-month-old toddlers were asked to hold off eating a raisin placed under a plastic cup until they were told they could eat it – has shown that those little ones who waited to eat the snack had an IQ of 7 points higher than those who weren’t able to wait when they got to 8 years old.

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A total of 558 children were enrolled in the longitudinal study – which is still under way – in Germany in 1985. The results so far have shown that the children who couldn’t control themselves and wait to take the raisin as toddlers have had greater difficulties in getting on at school and weren’t performing as well as those who did better in the raisin test.

The test is similar to the Marshmallow test devised in the 1960s where kids were told if they waited 15 minutes to eat a marshmallow they would get two instead of just one. Follow-up studies from that experiment also suggested those children who waited were more likely to be successful.

Professor Dieter Wolke at the Department of Psychology at the University of Warwick says, “The raisin game is an easy and effective tool that is good at assessing inhibitory control in young children, takes only 5 minutes, and can be used in clinical practice to identify children at risk of attention and learning problems.

“Better inhibitory control at age 20 months predicted better attention regulation and academic achievement at age 8 years.”

But Professor Wolke advises that results may differ if parents try the test at home. Though if they do want to try it, and discover that their child finds it hard to control themselves from taking the raisin immediately, they may want to talk to their child and perhaps make it clear that “they cannot interrupt but have to wait short periods”.

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