4-Year-Old's IQ Is So High She's in Mensa: Should We Be Impressed?

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little girlThe newest member of the prestigious high IQ club Mensa is 4–year–old Heidi Hankins of Winchester, England. She scored an impressive 159 on the Mensa IQ test, one point shy of that of Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking. That is quite remarkable.

The test measured her score against her peers of other 4-year-olds; she scored within the top 2 percent (which is the requirement for admission into Mensa). It is noted that children are scoring higher on IQ tests these days, for the sheer fact that parents are educating their children at much younger ages.

Do you think that by associating a child this young with her high IQ score can have adverse effects on her life? I think, as with any gifted child, once a parent discovers that the child excels in an area, they tend to try and nurture that gift. This would be natural, of course. If you had a child who was a gifted athlete, you would try to help them grow in their skills, receive effective training, and play at the appropriate level. You’d be proud of your child and want to help them excel in any way possible.

What happens if the child starts to be pushed too hard or pigeonholed by their achievements? By knowing that your child is of high intelligence, wouldn't you start to focus more on academics? Perhaps to the exclusion of everything else, even a normal childhood. It seems it would be easy to slip from encouraging parent to overbearing, especially with someone as young as Heidi Hankins.

The child could start to feel like their entire life revolves around academics. It would be overwhelming. The school and the parents might see it as beneficial to nurture the child’s intelligence by pushing them harder, teaching them above and beyond the average scope of children their age, pushing them to be someone they are not. I think IQ scores are great tools to use to gauge intelligence, when a child is a little older to know their strengths and weaknesses, but I don’t think IQ scores should be used to sit a small child on a path that they have no say in for the rest of their lives.

I've known children who scored high on the IQ standardized testing and then had no say in their education or classes all the way through high school. The IQ scores were high, the counselors advised the parents to go the AP/gifted route, the child had no say, the child was pushed into classes and extracurricular activities with no consideration for what the child wanted. With the high IQ came expectations of greatness.

Do you think that children who are labeled with high IQs or as gifted are treated differently by society?

Image via Deborah Cruz

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nonmember avatar Shannon

Yes, and many either start believing their own hype, or they end up afraid to fail so they do the bare minimum. I was labeled gifted at age 5 and I never studied or tried very hard at school because I didn't think "smart" people needed to. Other kids in gifted had an elitist attitude and tried to tear down other kids who were threatening their superiority. My sister didn't make the cutoff for gifted and she did much better academically than me. My husband and his best friend both turned down the chance to be in gifted and they have much better work ethics. Our son is already academically inclined but we won't have him tested for gifted and we're trying to teach him that hard work is necessary to do your best.

MomLi... MomLily67

I think it is harder on everyone because they will require special schooling, and while they might be academically advanced, their social develpment skills could be  affected. So, to put it mildly, unless MENSA itself participates in the childs education to meet her  intelectual needs, she will have to attend regular school, where she will end up in special classes. This can be very very tricky.

My son's 1st. grade teacher wanted to advance him to 3rd. grade because he was reading, writing, doing math at that level, but i refused because socially he was not ready. Never regreted it.

Sidthe Sidthe

@MomLily67 as far as I know the girl has already graduated high school. At least that's what the other article I read said. At 2 years old the girl was reading at an 8th grade level!

Academically she's a genius but to be completely honest she's probably going to end up socially handicapped. A lot like Sheldon off of Big Bang Theory or even worse possibly.

femal... femaleMIKE

What's wrong with pushing children to excel at their passion.

Eques... EquestrianMom

I tested very high as a child, but I am not an acedemically gifted person. I have a high IQ, yes, I am smart, but I am very good with my hands, with music, with art. But I was forever hearing "WHy is she failing in math? She's so smart!" but math makes no sense to me unless it is applied math. Theoretical math has no meaning, and I can't make sense of it. 

 End result? I thought I was stupid for years, because no matter how hard I tried I was behind in normal subjects, excelling in art, music, choir, and shop. Imagine if my parents had decided not to pressure me into being a math or english whiz, where I may have gone? High IQ does not mean academics. Parents and teachers need to recognize that.

femal... femaleMIKE

True eqestrian mom

nonmember avatar Anon

A child who is that exceptional cannot be forced onto a "normal" path either. If you had a very bright child you'd understand. My kid hasn't had an IQ test, but at 4 she was years ahead of her "peers" despite not having any unique learning opportunities. I got so much push-back about putting her in KG at age 4. Like it's better for her to go to KG after her reading level exceeds that of some teachers? Come on. Holding a child back is no favor. However, I have no idea how MENSA would benefit a child. I was invited to apply to MENSA but I threw the invite into the garbage. If my kid did enter MENSA for some reason, I wouldn't publicize it.

nonmember avatar Michelle

Equestrian mom hit the nail on the head. High IQ does not necessarily equal high "intelligence" as it is typically referenced. I have no problem with parents allowing their children to be "pushed" when it comes to academics...I was one of those kids. I THRIVED on being in the advanced classes and being challenged, but would I put my daughter in that type of environment unless she truly wanted to be there? Absolutely not! For the sake of this little girl, I hope they allow her to just BE FOUR YEARS OLD. Yeesh! So she can read at an 8th greade level. Great! That doesn't mean she has the social skills that allow her to succeed in that age group.


When my son was very young he got tested to be moved up grades. He could read going into Kindergarten. His IQ was VERY high. They wanted me to move him up 3 grades which would have put him one grade under his brother who was 3 years older. He would have been 6 in 3rd grade. I declined and my husband and I never told anyone. Emotionally I felt he needed to be with peers his own age who he would be in Sunday School and Cub Scouts with. I wanted him to feel normal in everything he did. If he were 3 grades above everyone, he'd never know his own peer group. Everything goes by age and not grade. I'm happy with my decision. Not everything in life is a race or "my kid's smarter than yours". Sometimes you have to do what's best for you child and not what makes you feel best.

Akash... AkashaGermaine

There is nothing wrong with pushing children to excel, femaleMike, as long as it truly is THEIR passion. My daughter is two grade levels ahead of her classmates, but socially she is right on par. Her passion is Ballet, and I support that, as long as she keeps her grades up.

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