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If you think your child may be gifted, please read this....

(49 Posts)
squeezedatbothends Sat 02-Jul-11 18:40:06

There is a raft of research at the moment about the problems with labelling children as 'bright', 'gifted' etc....the best is from Carol Dweck at Stanford University in the States. She writes about how our brains are actually 'plastic' i.e. hugely flexible and as such (in theory) any child can be gifted, but how our reactions to this and our language can create a fragile and brittle confidence that leads to real problems later in life. I read it and almost wept - my 18 year old son is absolutely 'fixed' as she would say, and suffers from acute depression in spite of his Oxford offer and constant accolades that he is 'gifted' - at the first sign of trouble or challenge, he crumbles. We Mums need to get up to date with recent developments in neurology (another great book is 'What is the Point of School?' by Guy Claxton) and start to challenge the way our schools are assessing and limiting our children. We also need to think of how we use praise and how we encourage our children to think of the effort they're putting in rather than the results they're getting out. Let me know what you think....

exoticfruits Sun 03-Jul-11 07:18:08

I think that we ought to challenge the way that we push our DCs and let them have a childhood. There is a thread I have just answered about a DC about to go into yr5 and the mother is worrying about the 11+.Maybe her DC isn't suited to grammar school. Academic success isn't the 'be all and end all'. University isn't for everyone. Lots of DCs will have been promised money for good exam grades-what was wrong with 'do your best'?
I don't think that it is anything to do with schools assessing and limiting, it is parents wanting success.
I'm sorry about your DS.It sounds as if he isn't ableto cope with failure and he doesn't see mistakes as learning experiences.
Could your DS not have a year out and volunteer somewhere and get some real life skills?
(this isn't personal criticism-I'm not suggesting that you are pushy. Some DCs are perfectionists who worry about failure or have no self confindence-it is a personality trait)

Rosebud05 Sun 03-Jul-11 07:22:23

Is the the 'praise the effort not the result' school of thought.

Makes sense to me, as that's the part the child can do something about.

nooka Sun 03-Jul-11 07:30:07

There is a great chapter in this in Nutureshock (a sort of Freakanomics for parents). Really interesting (and accessible) writing abut various recent studies on the current understanding of brain development and child psychology. It's more aimed at the American audience, where there is I think more of a 'praise everything your child does/is' culture, but yes all about praising effort (which a child can control) not telling them they are clever nothing they can do about that). The idea is that if the child stumbles a child who has been told they are clever is more inclined to panic, whilst one who has been praised for working hard will more likely persevere.

KATTT Sun 03-Jul-11 16:50:00

I tell my children, if you try to be perfect you're going to be disappointed with yourself 99% of the time. If you try to do your best you're going to be happy with yourself 99% of the time.

roisin Sun 03-Jul-11 20:34:20

This is a wonderful book on this very subject. It's very expensive, but you might be able to get hold of a copy through your library.

Alternatively this is rather more affordable and more easily digested and contains some gems.

"classrooms where all pupils are stretched, challenged and motivated and where gifts are created and grown, not identified and measured"

No, I'm not the author, though I think his approach is inspirational.

meditrina Sun 03-Jul-11 20:40:54

I'm reading the Syed book, and he mentions this too - his "purposeful coaching" might be the same thing as pupils being stretched, and it's the same on the need for praise to be for effort, not achievement.

anothermadamebutterfly Sun 03-Jul-11 20:54:42

Reading this, I can't help but think of how Nadal seems to always say something along the lines of, 'I went out there today and did my best' after almost every match, whether he has lost or won. And he comes across as extremely sane. (btw - I am gatecrashing as I don't have any G or T children, hope you don't mind!).

meditrina Sun 03-Jul-11 22:11:16

I'm now upstairs by "Bounce" and he references Dweck several times, and has a section on "fixed" v "growth" mindsets. He says that those who fall into the "growth" mindset usually go on to do better (better motivated, more persistent, higher outcomes over time).

letthembe Sun 03-Jul-11 23:32:31

Oh god this thread is like a breath of fresh air... so, so, so true. We must praise attitude, effort and a gave it my all approach. I have a friend who compares everything (I can get a bit flippant with some of my remarks). She even competed about when our children lost their first tooth - FFS, how can that help her DD. Life is too precious, we must let them have a childhood, guide them and enrich their lives before sending them off into the big wide world...

letthembe Sun 03-Jul-11 23:33:46

Oh lordy, I've just reread my post ... too much sun today blush

EyeOfNewtToeOfFrog Mon 04-Jul-11 14:50:58

This is all fine in theory. I absolutely don't want to draw DD's attention to her "giftedness" and make it central to her identity - for example I have told school not to ever tell DD about her being on the G&T register.

Chance would be a fine thing, though.

Her Y1 teacher made her read in front of the class (reading age of 9 at the age of 5) and told everyone they ought to be inspired by her hmm Some school staff, the hairdresser, the ballet teacher, the drama teacher, various relatives, aquaintances and even complete strangers keep telling DD how "clever", "bright" and "intelligent" she is.

What can I do to counteract this, eh? Tell her they're all wrong? confused

Rosebud05 Mon 04-Jul-11 16:15:57

No, of course not. You just continue doing what you're doing. Your impression of her will have more impact that that of the hairdresser I would say.

Lizcat Mon 04-Jul-11 21:01:35

As a dyslexic with a very high IQ my parents never pushed me, but praised effort. They always said as long as I tried my best they would be proud.
This inspired me to make them proud, they were on the day I got my 2:1 in basic medical science and agriculture and also on the day I graduated and took my oath for the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.
I tread the effort not achievement path with my DD every day and was incredibly proud last weekend when her swimming teacher commented that she is a very rare child who will always try her best no matter what you ask her to do. This reflects my Dad's other saying 'You don't know what you can achieve till you try'.

magicmummy1 Mon 04-Jul-11 22:17:31

One of the things I love about my dd's current teacher is her complete matter of fact approach to dd's ability - she acknowledges her current level, and differentiates work appropriately, but doesn't bat an eyelid while doing it - unlike the TA we had last year, who would have put dd in the zoo given half a chance.

I have always resisted labels as I think they create a lot of unnecessary pressure. It seems like common sense to me that we should praise attitude and effort - if praise is necessary at all, that is.

jugglingmug Mon 04-Jul-11 22:21:56

This kind of fits with the Unconditional Parenting thinking. We need to be clear with our DCs that it's fine to fail, it's even fine not to try if you're not interested in doing it....and that they will be loved anyway.

KATTT Tue 05-Jul-11 11:51:10


I disagree with that - I don't think it's OK not to try.

ragged Tue 05-Jul-11 13:32:50

I think it's all a bit obvious, what OP is saying, and that only parents who are inherently too competitive would fall into the trap of thinking otherwise (for more than a microsecond, anyway wink).

I always tell DC that only one person gets to win a race, but everyone who tries their best to win deserves our admiration.

chillistars Tue 05-Jul-11 18:26:34

Is my DD gifted and talented?
She is 6 and has been doing athletics for some 16 months now, she started going to a club meant for 8+ after she was very fast at her sports day and the teachers suggested that she join a running club.
Now she is doing athletics twice a week and is regularly winning the 600 metres race against 8 year olds and has been doing long jump and matching the technique and distance of much older children. One of the coaches has been training an adult for the recently athletics in Greece and he has noticed DD and said that she shows potential to do something similar when old enough.

Re maths, she is in Year 1 but has found the maths book that she has been doing at home (left over from her older sister who also likes maths a lot) too easy, she has complained it is too easy and asked for a harder one; she's now doing (voluntarily,I would never push a child into it) one for age 7 to 9 year olds which is meant to cover the SATs. She is telling me that is easy, I believe her because she is doing it all independently and of her own free choice.

As for reading, she has gone up 9 reading levels on the dreaded Oxford Reading Tree since September.

A teacher friend suggested that she might be, but does it really make any difference in school?

rabbitstew Tue 05-Jul-11 19:21:16

She sounds like a very focused, bright child who knows what interests her. I don't see in what way a label will help, though. Impressed by her sporting abilities - they sound very unusual for such a young child.

mollymole Tue 05-Jul-11 19:23:05

as an athletics coach (specialising in Under 11's & disablity athletes- but the parent of an international competitor) it is much easier to 'teach' an intelligent child the technical details of the sport BUT at 6 years old she should not be doing much long jumping at all as the strain put through the growing body is very high, neither should she be doing much track running, but should be on the grass, but it does sound as if she is talented - is she much the same size as the 8 year olds, or is she the average height/weight for her age.
what i would be very careful of is to remember that races and events under UKA start at under 11 age group, this covers from 8 year to 10 years and it STARTS AT 8 FOR A REASON
- younger than this it's all about having fun
don't push her and try to check that her coach is a specialist in 'children in athletics' not an adult coach 'downsizing' as the 2 approaches are completely different

LovetheHarp Tue 05-Jul-11 21:23:45

Mollymore very interesting, because my Dd1 is very good at ballet but they would not let her sit her first Grade 1 exam until she has turned 7 for similar reasons. They were talking about the pelvis growing and how dangerous it can be to strain it with barre exercises.

I guess it's a similar thing?

activate Tue 05-Jul-11 21:29:31

"We also need to think of how we use praise and how we encourage our children to think of the effort they're putting in rather than the results they're getting out"

this is hardly new is it?

we have always praised the effort and not the god-given talent / ease of learning - so far it has proved a succesful route - I do believe it's home that's the problem and not school attitudes

activate Tue 05-Jul-11 21:33:22

also consider Jay Giedd's paediatric neuro MRIs demonstrating that the brain continues to develop much later through to 20s and beyond so no such thing as 'fixed'

chillistars Tue 05-Jul-11 21:46:08

mollymole, her athletics coach does specialise in children; there is an adult coach there as well but he helps rather than coaches.

She does long jumping once a week and has around 4 or 5 goes. She goes to athletics for an hour twice a week, she does run on the track during that time for most of one session but about half of the other session.

She's tall; 97th percentile for height and about 80th percentile for weight.
Yes, the local events are all 8+ and she can't do them - her coaches wouldn't let her anyway even if I were to push her.

For me sport should be about fun at any age TBH. I like to encourage her interest in sport but it has to come from her and not from me.

Thanks for all the information.

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