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Secret to gifted child: Thinking positively during pregnancy

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Women who believe they have control over their lives have kids who are better at science, mathematics
Women hoping to produce the next Einstein may want to put extra effort into positive thinking during pregnancy, researchers say.

A new study suggests the attitudes of expectant mothers could affect their child’s ability in mathematics and science.

Pregnant women who believed they had control over the outcome of life events were more motivated to act and have a child who performs well in these subjects, the University of Bristol, United Kingdom (U.K.) found.

The study was published in Frontiers in Psychology.

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People with a personality trait known as the ‘internal locus of control’ believe they have influence over the outcome their own life events.

These people are more motivated to act to create change.

Those who had an ‘external locus of control’ however, think events are beyond their control and may therefore make less effort.

Pregnant women who had an ‘internal’ rather than ‘external’ locus of control had children who did better at science and Mathematics tests at the ages of eight, 11 and 13.

The researchers used data from a study known as the Children Of The 90s, studying the responses of 1,600 pregnant women and the later mathematical scientific reasoning and problem-solving skills of their children.

Professor Jean Golding, lead author and founder of the study, said it was widely known that a child’s locus of control was linked to their academic achievements.

But until now, little was known about how this was linked to the mother’s locus of control.

Golding said: “If our findings that mothers’ attitudes and behaviours can have an effect on their child’s academic abilities can be replicated, it would suggest that more efforts should be made to increase the opportunities for mothers to feel that their behaviours will have a positive outcome for themselves and their children.

“It would help future generations raise healthy, confident and independent children.”

The researchers examined data from the Children Of The 90s study. Pregnant women who had an ‘internal’ rather than ‘external’ locus of control had children who did better at science and maths tests at the ages of eight, 11 and 13.

Mothers with an internal locus of control were also more likely to provide their children with diets beneficial to brain development.

They were also more likely to read to them more regularly, show interest in their homework and academic progress.

The researchers noted that the findings only show a relationship between the mother’s locus of control and a child’s outcomes, and said more work is needed to explore cause and effect.

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