nature vs nurture - how did your child turn out GT?

(54 Posts)
ModelVillage Sun 08-Sep-13 15:38:03

If you have a gifted and talented child, what did you do to make him/her that way? Did he/she just drop out of the sling one day and showed really advanced behaviour? Or did you "power parent" them?

I somehow can't shake the idea that I have somehow failed my kids a little by having had a less than dedicated nanny for a year when they were under two and by generally not "teaching" them something every time we communicate.

Apologies already if this has been done before, I usually don't frequent this board! But if you care to explain your parenting style (or lack of it) I would be grateful.

Sleepybunny Sun 08-Sep-13 15:46:35

Shameless place marking, also curious about the nature vs nurture opinions

LEMisdisappointed Sun 08-Sep-13 15:46:40

I don't really understand your post model - do you have a G&T child who hasn't been challenged enough? or are your children just "ordinary" children? Do you feel you failed your children by having a nanny? or having a crap nanny?

My DD is dyslexic and probably generally behind educationally, i would like to think tht this is not because I didn't "power parent" or stick labels on every household object when she was 2.

Please don't feel like a failure as a parent becaue your child isn't G&T!!! Its bad enough with the generalsed competitive parenting you experience over reading levels and stuff - i've learnt to let it go over my head. Yeah my child is never going to win the nobel prize for engineering but shes happy.

LEMisdisappointed Sun 08-Sep-13 15:48:48

However.................. Its a bit of both nature and nurture. HTH

Think of it like this: I could power parent until the cows come home, my DD is always going to struggle with reading. If however my child was exceptionally bright or talented in one aspect of her education and this was never "nurtured" then that particular talent would probably not be developed.

ontheallotment Sun 08-Sep-13 16:17:52

Hmm, neither of mine have been offically designated G&T (attended wrong sort of school for that), but both might fall into that category by some metrics. It seems stupendously arrogant to assume our parenting was any better than anyone elses to be honest (and I truly can't believe it was), but also I can't really think dh & my genes are that awesome either. Suspect there's a fair bit of random luck involved coupled with 'good enough' parenting, 'good enough' education (both of mine lucked out with better than average education for what its worth) and a good work ethic helps too.

I have 3 dc and my 2nd is very gifted. I did absolutely nothing to make him like this. He went to the local 'satisfactory' primary school. It it purely the way he was born.

Lonecatwithkitten Sun 08-Sep-13 17:05:21

I pretty much let her play with mud until she went to school, though I read to her each night. I supported her with all the homework school sent home and answered all her questions and talked about school topics. In all honesty nothing more than that.

Acinonyx Mon 09-Sep-13 09:17:49

I was a gifted child. I was most certainly not 'power-parented' - quite the reverse so have biased feelings about this (I was taken into care for neglect as a toddler). My dd is also gifted. I don't push her - but I am certainly very supportive of her interests, read to her a lot, and try to offer her experiences and opportunities. Personally, I think she would be gifted in any case, but I do think her interests and knowledge base are broader than mine were - and she's a lot happier and less bored. In some areas she's not as gifted as I was (more just very bright) but in others more so.

I mention my own experience because there is very often a confounding issue in the the parents of gifted children are often gifted themselves - which could become nature or nurture. I think nurture can improve educational attainment for all children - I seriously doubt it will make a child gifted but it can make the best of a gifted child who might otherwise become frustrated and act out.

VestaCurry Mon 09-Sep-13 09:22:34

dc2 is G&T in maths and music. It just happened and definitely seems to be something in the genes, because me and dh were G&T in those areas.

Damnautocorrect Mon 09-Sep-13 09:52:28

I think it's a bit of both, I think there's a natural gift and the right environment encourages it.
I come from a very gifted family, my cousins have excelled as they were brought up in a very different environment to me, yet at a young age I showed the same potential.

FeetUpUntilChristmas Mon 09-Sep-13 10:13:48

My DD1 was classed G&T in English at primary as she loved making up stories, has just done her GCSE and got only an A. However in her maths and sciences she has all A* and will be taking these through A level and onto degree.

Was she born this way or pushed?

She wasn't pushed but was looked after by nannies when she was younger who encouraged her creative side more than her maths side. As parents we never pushed her just let her develop as she wanted, no extra lessons or constant coaching etc.

Her strengths that are now shining through are the same as DH so I would conclude that she was born this way.

DD2 is not quite so academically bright, her G&T recognition is sports however her strengths are very similar to mine, so I would conclude that she too was born this way.

lljkk Mon 09-Sep-13 10:36:45

I reckon there are relevant thresholds parents are responsible for (support, values, opportunity) & there are gifts (genetics).

Need a decent environment at minimum standards to meet the minimum threshold for support. This threshold can be pretty low at times. Look at someone like Tatiana McFadden. Terrible start in life but then found a parent who could give her every opportunity. Her raw abilities were always there, though.

Most of the rest that distinguishes ordinary from gifted is purely genetics.

Theas18 Mon 09-Sep-13 10:50:58

It's got to be both surely.

Taking the "child genius" program it was clear that those kids had very able parents academically. Either they were recognised and working in academia or were clearly very able ( eg shrinidi and ? longyin) even though they didn't have the same formal academic background. They were also well supported.

Genetic "giftedness" that occurs in a household who don't value education would struggle to shine, and I think this is what the G+T programs in schools are /should really be about...

richmal Mon 09-Sep-13 14:19:19

Though nature surely plays a part in the equation, I have found nurture can make quite a difference; to the extent the child can end up years ahead compared to what others of the same age are learning.

chauffeurmummy Mon 09-Sep-13 14:32:16

I think it depends how you define giftedness and whether you are looking at 'ability' or 'achievement' - which often don't match in gifted children. I believe that ability is nature whereas achievement is nurture.

Kithulu Mon 09-Sep-13 14:33:07

I'm with lonecat lots of mud and stories grin I always think DS is G&T inspite of our parenting not because of it. He could not write his name when he started school, I had not pushed at all, just wanted him to play and enjoy being a child. It's only now he is 12 that I truly see how awesome he is (predicted all A*, in top set for everything) I never really believed it before.

GooseyLoosey Mon 09-Sep-13 14:40:39

I think true genius or being highly gifted is down to nature entirely. I do not think that there is some parenting magic which makes such children excel.

I also think it is possible to help any child achieve more (at least in the short term) by way of nurture and to possibly instil a work ethic which makes them want to achieve. How much further this might get them in the long term, I have no idea.

I just can't imagine that a nanny for under 2s will have that much difference on what they achieve in school. Not sure that a gifted child is one who is pushed to achieve at a young age. To be a genius you don't have to read at 3.

exexpat Mon 09-Sep-13 14:47:47

I think 'gifted' children are basically just born that way, though some may fail to reach their potential if they grow up in very unhelpful environments. So I guess I'd say it's genetic, but it's not always as simple as highly intelligent parents having highly intelligent offspring.

One of the cleverest/most gifted people I know came from a family where no one had stayed on at school past 15 or 16, let alone gone to university. His parents are not noticeably clever, to put it tactfully. But he was a bright spark from a very young age, spotted at school and supported by his grandmother to get a scholarship to a grammar school. He is now an Oxbridge professor. I'm not sure where the amazing brain came from for him - random combination of genes? He certainly wasn't hothoused from toddlerhood.

exexpat Mon 09-Sep-13 14:56:27

Oh, and to answer your question about parenting style - I was officially 'gifted', as are both my DCs (I would describe us all as common-or-garden gifted, ie top sets, A*s, enquiring minds, Oxbridge 1st calibre, not profoundly gifted as in PhDs at age 12) and I am taking basically the same approach as my parents: absolutely not pushing/hothousing, no flashcards, didn't try to teach them to read before school or anything like that, just lots of talking, reading, toys that give plenty of opportunities to use their imagination and intelligence. Then as they get older, access to whatever books and information sources they want, and lots of opportunities for new and interesting experiences - basically supporting and encouraging them in following their own interests and talents.

ILoveAFullFridge Mon 09-Sep-13 15:03:19

Why treat G&T as something aspirational? While its lovely to have a bright child who thrives at school, it is less delightful having to help that child struggle with peer relationships because he doesn't have any peers. Not to mention the difficulties with teachers differentiating the schoolwork.

I'm sure that G&T owes more to nature than to nurture. Any child can be nurtured to achieve their best. Equally, any child who do not experience good nurturing may end up frustrated and under-achieving.

Good nurture is not about constantly stimulating and asking the square root of pi. It is about helping a child develop self-confidence, curiosity, usefull skills and good habits.

minidipper Mon 09-Sep-13 15:10:33

DH is a school governor in charge of G&T at his school and told me that G&T is actually very rare - one in 400 children perhaps - as in a child who stands out as way above even the brightest of their peers.

Lots of naice parents (self included) want their DC to do well and if they are regularly top set, think of our offspring as G&T, but they're not. They're a mix of nature and nurture. I get the impression that true G&T is often nature, though cranks who coach their toddlers in chess for five hours a day may build a G&T child but at a cost to other aspects of their development.

TwoStepsBeyond Mon 09-Sep-13 15:53:48

I am the most laid back parent you can imagine, swerve 'meet the teacher' and any non-essential school stuff, let them get on with their homework by themselves (if they don't do it, they're the one who has to take the consequences) and rarely find time to sit and read their school books, no idea which reading level they are on etc.

I am always around as I work from home, so if they have any questions I am on hand to answer them, but I am very much from the 'benign neglect' school of parenting. I teach them about life in general but the academic stuff is school's job.

2 of my 3 are officially G&T (& the other is also very bright, but not yet identified as G&T) and I put it down to them inheriting the best of each of their parents - we have very different personalities/strengths which is why we are getting divorced so they all have a very good blend of common sense and imagination, methodical reasoning and creativity.

I definitely think it's genetic as I have done nothing special with any of my DCs, other than baby signing and talking to them like normal sensible human beings right from birth (I was never good at the babbling baby-talk stuff).

twistyfeet Mon 09-Sep-13 15:58:51

G&T didnt exist when mine were in school but I think it's genetic. We did nothing special, nothing extra curricular, in fact, I pulled them out of school and did the type of home education known as ignoring them and letting them do their own thing until 6th form grin
They all got A* at A level, 1st class degrees etc. Buggered if I know how. DH is very clever so they inherited his brains, it certainly wasnt anything we did at home.

piratecat Mon 09-Sep-13 16:00:37

I was a mum/person who did alot of talking and commenting on the world around dd.
I just think she's a bright girl, with bright parents. I did alot of communication that enforced her belief in herself (something I never got), but not ott. I probably felt it more as i didn't get much praise or encouragement from my parents.
I can't say if I'd had another child that that one would turn out the same. D has a natural upbeat confidence, nature, I guess.
Has has a shedload of problems too though, no dad, and health probs. Yet still shines on bless her.
Been alot of work though. Missed school and emotional trauma.

78bunion Mon 09-Sep-13 17:00:22

I think it's 50/50.

I would not use gifted for my children or me as I don't like the word. If it means high IQ and getting into a very selective school etc etc then may be they would be regarded as such in some contexts as might I but I think it's over used.

At age 3 children from homes where parents have a small vocabulary know many many fewer words than children in homes where lots of different words are used and known. Syed who writes in the Times has been involved in some interesting recent debates on the topic including on Radio 4. On the other hand often an adopted child will be streets ahead or much behind the genetic children of the parents where it lives which shows genes play a part too.

Prince Harry is a good example - all the chances in the world including a rare place at Eton and he has his mother's brains and hardly any GCSEs - genes although I expect he did a bit better than he would have done in a sink comp.

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