Giftedness in toddlers - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 10 Old 12-17-2012, 11:47 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi all,

 

Do gifted toddlers have a greater edge over their neurotypical(normal) counterparts. Since they hit their milestones(reading, writing, math etc) earlier than others I think its only logical that they are very much ahead of their peers and will be more succesful in life.

 

Could any of you share more thoughts on this.

 

Thank you!

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#2 of 10 Old 12-17-2012, 12:46 PM
 
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No, I don't agree, generally speaking, however, I think you need to define "giftedness" and "success" for a meaningful discussion. 

 

I'll presume that by "success" you mean academically and career-wise. By giftedness, you seem to be discussing the intellectually or cognitively gifted. Children who are Intellectually gifted may also have learning disabilities ("dual exceptionality"). They may struggle with sensory issues. They may have personality difficulties. They may have behavioural problems. There are many and varied ways that gifted children will confront obstacles. In some cases, giftedness may exacerbate the problems or complicate the solutions.

 

You just need to skim a few threads in the "Parenting the Gifted" subforum to realize the complicated struggles that these children and their families often face. 

 

There are studies that demonstrate that children with well-developed executive function skills are likely to enjoy "success" in life. Interpersonal skills, empathy, planning and organizational ability, the ability to delay gratification, self-confidence and other such skills and traits contribute to success much more than whether a child can read or do sums when they are 2 or 3 years old. 

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#3 of 10 Old 12-17-2012, 01:07 PM
 
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Everyone has challenges, struggles, and moments of ease. I think all that differs is what is hard and what is easy. Besides, we are who we are, and our children are who they are. It cannot be changed.
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#4 of 10 Old 12-18-2012, 12:16 PM
 
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From personal experience, and now talks with our ND, it matters more how those children are treated and the expectations of them and especially how you word things.

 

My personal experience was this - I was a bright child, tested years above my peers in reading, writing, etc.  My parents sent me to catholic school bc the public schools in our area were starting to get 'rough' and the first of the magnet schools wasn't yet built.  Let's just say it wasn't in the budget to allow some students to advance while other got more help, so I was a very bored little girl, and thankfully shy enough that I didn't turn my boredom into destruction and managed to stay out of trouble.  But one too many years of being told how 'smart' I was and how I 'didn't need to pay attention like the other kids', and when I was finally out of that environment it hit me hard.  The first time I encountered something difficult for me - freshman algebra - I was at a loss.  I'd never been pushed before.  Never had to deal with anything being difficult.  And I completely crashed under the pressure.  Fast forward to college, yes I made it through, and even managed a few A's here and there in those classes that came 'easy to me'...but for everything else I struggled.  To the point I was on academic probation for a semester.  So from the smart kid who was allowed to sit in the office sorting papers or hanging out with the nurse just because I didn't feel like being in class and graduated middle school as salutatorian, to the nervous reclusive wreck stuggling just for a passing grade (D is for diploma became my mantra at one point), I know all too well how easy it is to go wrong and let that smart kid down. 

 

Our DD is 13mos and far brighter than I was at her age.  She can speak about 50 words - clearly and accurately - understands probably 100 or so more.  Her ability to reason and speak in phrases is on par with most of our friends' 2 and 3yr olds.  I don't want for her to end up in my situation and therefore am planing to send her to a montessori school that will allow her to progess at her own pace.  But more importantly, in talking with our ND, she suggested we not place emphasis on telling DD how smart she is, but to focus on and praise her efforts and how hard she tries.  And as a dog trainer that's not something I often have the chance to do (well, except for maybe the owners of the dogs I work with) - my focus is always on the end result, not so much how we got there.  So I'm learning how to encourage her in different ways that are a bit foreign to me, but will hopefully pay off in the long run.  To keep her from someday becoming overwhelmed, like the first time she approaches a task that doesn't come easy.

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#5 of 10 Old 12-18-2012, 12:41 PM
 
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Success comes from persistence. Determination yields results. Calvin Coolidge has a quote on the subject.

No child should be in the office sorting papers or hanging out with the nurse. There is always *something* that child can do, such as helping others in the class.

There is a fine line between pushing too hard and allowing a child to do nothing. Finding that line is, I believe, every parent's (and teacher's) challenge. A child pushed too hard can burn out. A child used to getting A's without any work can stumble later. Learn to listen to your child's signals of needing more or less challenge. And support completion of projects the child initiates, so the child will grow up into an adult who sees things through, thereby succeeding.
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#6 of 10 Old 12-18-2012, 12:48 PM
 
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I totally agree with sassyfirechick. We all feel great when our toddlers hit all their milestones early, and hope it predicts great success in life. But I was a "gifted" kid, got to study in gifted programs throughout school and am now a professor--and I'm still skeptical about this label. Kids identified as "gifted" are almost always materially gifted relative to their peers. These are typically kids who live in homes filled with books, with two loving, educated parents with money to spend and time to read to them every day, kids who get to travel and partake of exciting extracurricular activities like music lessons and sports. So they start school ahead of their peers. Once labelled "gifted", their teachers set higher expectations for them and give them more interesting assignments because they believe in their abilities. So school is more fun for them than for most kids, and they learn more.

The thing is, there are studies that show that when teachers are *told* their students are gifted, they give the students challenging assignments, perceive them as smarter, and the kids do better--whether or not they actually did test any better than anyone else. I think any kid would thrive in that environment, if their teachers thought they belonged there.

So yeah. If your LO is reading at 3 as I did, there's a good chance she'll be identified as gifted and end up excelling academically, which helps her chances of succeeding professionally and financially. But I'm very skeptical that these outcomes reflect any "neurological" or other innate superiority (as your use of the word "neurotypical" to describe non-"gifted" kids implies).

Give your kid every opportunity to learn and thrive. But I wouldn't assume that low-income kids, black and Latino kids, kids from single-parent homes don't have the same neurological "gifts"--their intellectual talents are just much less likely to get identified and cultivated the way privileged kids' "gifts" do.
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#7 of 10 Old 12-18-2012, 03:35 PM
 
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I would like to point out that "neurotypical" is a word typically used within the autism community to denote the absence of autism.  If you are referring to cognitive capabilities, that's something else entirely.

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#8 of 10 Old 12-18-2012, 03:56 PM
 
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Just wanted to add another vote for the sentiment that Sassyfirechick expressed.  I'm another one of those formerly gifted kids, although I also went to Catholic schools where we only had high/low levels for math and reading.  I got very used to being "the successful" one who never had to work hard to achieve good grades and success in extracurriculars.  But as an adult, I feel like I'm NEVER successful.  I haven't been able to get myself on a career path (uh, earning money???  what???), and I tend to only excel when I'm a "big fish in a little pond."  I feel like the "regular" kids develop a more realistic view of the world and their place in it - AND what they have to do to truly be successful.

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#9 of 10 Old 12-27-2012, 10:04 AM
 
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I don't think so. I know many children who were "gifted" throughout school, who are now unemployed and live in their moms basements doing nothing all day, just like I know some of my C-average peers are graduating college, getting good jobs, etc. I think it just depends on the person, gifted or not, success is based off how hard you work and strive to get somewhere, not just an IQ number.


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#10 of 10 Old 12-27-2012, 10:09 AM
 
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My 4 year old is a "gifted" child, and grandparents always say how she'll go on and be things like a doctor, lawyer, pilot, etc. really highly sought after professions that you DO have to be smart for, but it bugs me incredibly people feel the need to already size up what a 4 year old will be doing 20 years from now, ya know? What if my gifted child wants to be a ballerina while my "average" child is the one who grows up to be a CEO? Gifted, not gifted, I think it's best to just take life with babes one day at a time. Don't stress out if they'll be valedictorian in high school when they are barely done potty training.


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