IQ testing for my child – will it hurt or help them?

Many parents need or would like to have their child’s IQ tested for a number of reasons, such as early school entry, to assess their child’s abilities for a gifted program, or to explore learning difficulties.

Most parents express some concerns about what the test will involve and how it may impact on their child, particularly for younger children who haven’t participated in many formal testing situations.

Here are a few things to reassure you if your child is about to participate in an assessment of their IQ.

 A test is not a test

Although we use the term ‘IQ test’ to describe an assessment of a child’s cognitive abilities, it is not a test in the way the word is commonly understood.

When we think of a test, we usually think of a child sitting down with a pencil and a page full of questions to answer. An IQ test is not like this at all.

Commonly used IQ tests involve a number of different activities that are designed to measure different aspects of cognitive ability; activities include working with blocks, answering questions and looking at visual material, for example.

 The tests for younger children especially are designed to be game-like so that the tasks are both familiar and not too stressful for little ones.

 In fact, I prefer not to use the word ‘test’ and usually describe the process as some “activities to help me understand how you learn”.

 It takes so long

An IQ test may take one to two hours, depending on the child, their age and their level of ability.

Some parents are worried about the length of time that their child will have to concentrate for but you can be assured that your child is not focussing on difficult and onerous tasks for a full two hours straight.

The testing is divided into short and diverse activities, so the assessment process is naturally broken up into short segments of time for concentrating and have a moment’s break in between activities.

In my work with children, I try to be very careful to stay attuned to the child’s level of engagement, concentration and energy.

I provide as many breaks as the child needs to feel comfortable and ready for each new task, so that he has the opportunity to perform to his full ability.

 In my experience, many kids really enjoy the process!


Sometimes parents are concerned that the results of testing will label their child, and that the label will impact them negatively. When appropriately used, labels can be useful, in that they can help define what sorts of support or intervention may be most suitable for your child’s particular learning needs.

However, a label doesn’t need to define a child.

Any one test can’t measure everything your child can do. Your child is an individual with various strengths, skills and talents that are not measured by an IQ test.

Abilities like social skills, emotional resilience, sporting achievement, artistic talent, musical ability and so on are all things that a child may demonstrate but is not measured by an IQ test.

What an IQ test can do is clarify a child’s strengths and weaknesses across a number of areas of cognitive ability, which are linked with learning and which can help identify your child’s individual learning needs.

This information is invaluable for understanding their unique pattern of strengths and weaknesses and determining how you as parents in addition to your child’s teachers may assist them to be gently and skillfully guided to achieve their full potential.

The results of this testing process will help reveal what you need to be able to assist your child throughout their entire education and beyond.

The testing process is only the beginning … in fact, the test is only a tool.

The real and long term value lies in how the results are interpreted and then presented to give ‘real world’, actionable insights to teachers and others who will be guiding your child’s education into the future.

It is this skillful interpretation of the results that determines whether your investment in the process will yield postive outcomes for your child, and that is our area of speciality. By taking care to interpret and explain the results in terms that educators can understand, we ensure all of those involved in your child’s education are on the same page.

So if you have been considering getting your child’s IQ tested but have been worried about the process, I hope that this addresses some of your questions and concerns.  Please contact us here at Attuned Psychology and we will be pleased to talk you through your child’s needs to tailor an assessment and report that will be beneficial to your child, you as parents and the important people around them at an educational level.

Watch out for my next blog “Understanding Educational Assessments: who are they really for?”

Author: Rebecca Rossi

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