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Giftedness disappearing?? Anyone else experienced this at 6yo?

(151 Posts)
Pearlington Sat 15-Jun-13 20:05:20

Apologies for the length, but I feel I need to give some background to convey the problem. Dd was scary pretty much from birth. But now, age six, I find it seeming to disappear. It's so odd. Ill give some examples of milestones and intellectual prowess for context...

First speech 6 m
Picked out letters spontaneously 11 m
Sentence speech 13 m
Knew all alphabet letters - names and sounds - 14 m
Naming dozens of plants in Latin 16 m
Drawing recognisable faces 19 m
Asking philosophical, science and maths questions 20 m
Writing name 21 m
Reading 26 m

By 2.5 she spoke like an adult, read non fiction obsessively and had incredible insight and unending spontaneous deductive reasoning particularly in science and philosophy.

She was identified as gifted when she started a highly selective pre-prep nursery at 3 and was given Year 2 homework. In reception, the teacher said she may need to skip a year in a couple of years time and her stock phrase was, ?It must be so exhausting to be her. I?ve never seen a young brain active like that. She never stops experimenting with concepts, deducing how things work, analysing everything around her. It?s tiring listening to it and keeping up with it.? The head of pre-prep and school head jointly decided DD should have her own curriculum put in place from Year 2 on. However, starting Year 2, her new teacher told us the other kids had probably caught up over the summer so DD wouldn't need extension work.

Now, she remembers little of what she taught herself then and seems to have lost the endless thirst. She taught herself the names of all the bones in the body, how the organs worked, today she does not seem interested. The eternal incisive questioning has stopped and if I offer to explain something she says it?s boring and she doesn't want to know. If I ask her about things she used to love to discuss, she looks blank or gives a fairly thoughtless (or perhaps more age-appropriate) answer. If something looks challenging, she avoids it. Her brain never seems to get into gear.

She still says amazing things occasionally and about two months ago, I found her in the kitchen trying to extract DNA from her saliva - she'd found instructions in a book and got the whole experiment together on her own. Her reading age at 6 is pretty much adult. But all the burning curiosity and drive has weakened or even gone.

I've never pushed her but responded to her interests. Now I feel a little lost and confused as to what's gone on. I feel like I'm parenting a changeling. I asked her today if science still interested her and she said, "not like it used to. I'd like to know a bit more about cells.""What would you like to know about them?""I dunno". That was it. She has a Brian cox app and watches a lot on space. The only other relevant info I can think of is that I?m currently pregnant and have been seriously ill with my pregnancy and she seems to be suffering enormous self-esteem problems and keeps telling me she is stupid, a bad person and ? today ? a loser.

Does anyone have any thoughts? Has anyone else experienced this? Thanks so much in anticipation.

ChazDingle Sat 15-Jun-13 20:17:33

i have no experience what so ever of this so not sure if my comments will be of any use to you. However i read somewhere that often gifted girls tend to try and fit in with their peers as they get older, its a peer pressure thing they don't want to be different. Not sure what you could do about this

veraminaj Sun 16-Jun-13 02:42:47

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

ggirl Sun 16-Jun-13 02:51:18

A friens dd was very very bright top of class but not genius like your dd, when she reached yr 2 her peers had caught up and she was struggling in school to the point that her parents and teachers questioned whether there was something going wrong medically . She had numerous tests that showed nothing was amiss .. She's fine but not bright ..strange but apparently normal.

ggirl Sun 16-Jun-13 02:52:21

I don't mean that she's strange , just the change in her

Pearlington Sun 16-Jun-13 04:36:58

Thanks everyone. The point about screens rings true. We used to limit to 20 min a day but found she was stretching that by all sorts of devious means. Now I banned screens except for weekends but she's constantly complaining about it. I notice that she seems more herself after a few days without a screen but come the weekend it's a constant battle. This weekend her grandparents got her electric circuits out trying to distract her from moaning about Sonic The Hedgehog and suddenly she started asking about different forms of light and wavelengths so maybe there's a lot of truth in that. But this is where I feel stuck as I would never ban screens completely - I ultimately want her to be a normal kid and we told the school we don't want her skipping a year. I just feel like I equally don't want to see all her interest in the world abandon her. It was tiring but I enjoyed her questions and passion. Now she comes across to me like a lazy disinterested teenager. :-(

amazingmumof6 Sun 16-Jun-13 05:06:35

my gut instinct is that she may have realized how smart she is (especially compared to peers ) and has some sort of inner conflict about it.

I don't buy that she's not interested anymore!
I think she is only pretending she isn't ( not in any malicious way though)

perhaps she wants to fit in?
or a teacher made her feel bad
or she's embarrassed in some way

there are many possibilities including of course somehow being insecure about baby.

whatever negative things she states about herself there's no point saying she isn't.
The truth is irrelevant, she needs to know you understand how she FEELS and WHY!

next time she says she is a loser don't invalidate her feelings by saying "no you are not"

just say something like: oh that must be awful to feel like a loser.
then go on to finding out why
best way to keep her talking is just rephrase and repeat what she says.

she'll know you are really listening, which will make her feel secure again.


keep posting

prissyenglisharriviste Sun 16-Jun-13 05:19:45

I think quite fatten kids realise the teachers aren't bothered, whereas the parents are always encouraging. So it seems kinda pointless to be interested and strive for more.

With interested spectators and quality feedback, being bright and being recognised as bright is super easy. In a class of 30 where the adult can't really be arsed one way or another, it's fairly pointless. You'll see flashes of brilliance, but if they aren't nurtured, the kid loses interest fast because no one else cares.

And yy, screens. I suspect the govt is in league with apple to dumb down children so they don't have to fork out for teachers capable of extension work and appropriate differentiation.

Cravingdairy Sun 16-Jun-13 05:31:04

I think the self esteem issues may be key and should be a priority either way.

Cravingdairy Sun 16-Jun-13 05:31:13

I think the self esteem issues may be key and should be a priority either way.

Pearlington Sun 16-Jun-13 07:53:39

I've been trying to focus on the self esteem but it's really hard. She's so disproportionately hysterical about failure. By which I mean, if she drops a glass, she hates herself. If she yells at me, ten minutes later she is a worthless human being. I have wondered if being disengaged is a way of avoiding failing academically so as not to feel more stupid.

You're right, amazingmum, if I try and convince her that her thinking is irrational she literally says, "you can say what you like but I know you're just trying to make me feel better. I know I'm bad and you can't change that". FYI I have taken advice about the self esteem from professionals and been told she doesn't need counselling, that I should keep doing what I'm doing.

It does seem to be improving after a few different interventions. For one thing, we've tried to really change the balance between discipline and reward and asked all 5 other adults in her life to stop trying to discipline her as I think she was getting it from all angles. We also had a few chats about it.

She seemed a little happier then yesterday she wanted to play boggle, a game she's loved since she was three. She was doing really well then he grandparents came in. One of them started helping her then the other kept clapping when she found a long word. She won the round but became intensely upset saying, "I'm a loser. I don't want to play now. I'm rubbish". I think it was the sudden attention from spectators and I had a chat with them afterwards, explaining she was better left alone and the applause and help were both embarrassing to her. I pointed out to dd that she won and that at 6, she had no reason to think she should be able to play like a grown up, that most kids her age would not be able to play as well as her, but nothing was good enough. Then later, when all had left, she asked to play again...

Pearlington Sun 16-Jun-13 08:18:57

Thinking about the point above re her teacher, her reception teacher gave her one on one time to do extension work through discussion. This teacher says dd always wants to discuss the material but she doesn't have time and dd needs to learn to get her head down and focus. Perhaps this has some bearing but I can't really change that, right?

RikeBider Sun 16-Jun-13 08:27:07

"Giftedness" at say, 3, isn't always a predictor of future greatness - often kids who are late starters overtake those with early promise. It's one issue with assessing and streaming children early, especially at super-selective schools - it often misses those who show their greatness later, while early starters are gradually caught up with.

Also, children who believe/are told they are clever are often less likely to try things that they find challenging or not immediately easy as failure would challenge their identity as "the bright one". It can feel safer to just coast along doing things you know you will succeed at.

Pearlington Sun 16-Jun-13 08:46:30

Just to clarify, she was still being assessed at five as needing acceleration and being several years ahead of her peers and has never been told she's bright. Also, the research shows that for hot housed kids, the other kids do catch up academically, which is probably what ur referring to. She is still ahead academically and was never hothoused. It's the obsessive fascination with science and spontaneous problem solving - ie the pace and thinking patterns - etc that tends to distinguish pushed vs gifted kids and until the last few months she had that in buckets. The research shows that for genuinely gifted kids, the evening out phenomenon does not happen and this was a common myth until the research teased out the hot housing factor. I'm not saying she's been caught up academically, I'm saying she's lost her internal interest and drive. I don't think that's at all the same. She now looks like a pushed kid as she's advanced in academic ways but not showing the other hallmark behaviours of natural giftedness.

neontetra Sun 16-Jun-13 09:05:44

I find her achievements just staggering - especially the Latin names for plants at 16 months. I am struggling to imagine how a 16 month old even sources that information, let alone applies it. And lots of my friends work in academia, and have very bright, academically nurtured kids - but nothing in this league (as for my dd, I was very proud when she said "sheep", yesterday!)
Being so very different from even the brightest of her peers, as I assume your dd is, must be incredibly difficult, and I am not surprised it is impacting on her self esteem etc, as you find this with even normally bright kids. I think it is essential that you get professional advice on how to support her. As you say, the only priority now can be insuring her future happiness and emotional well-being - the rest doesn't matter at all.

Lonecatwithkitten Sun 16-Jun-13 09:53:23

I have a slightly older girl (9) who is described be her school as really very bright. One thing I have noticed is that at certain times (certain teachers in particular) she feels the need to 'hide' her brightness. So we get plateaus and then massive accelerations. This was a real issue in infants where one teacher taught pretty much every subject. Now she is in Juniors and she has a variety of teachers it is harder to have this waxing and waning.
There are times when she wishes to be normal and not mark herself out as really clever. Lack of competition is often a factor in this.

Pearlington Sun 16-Jun-13 10:21:43

Re the plant names - she would ask what different flowers were called of whomever was with her in the garden and they would tell her. We don't dumb down - if she pointed at a dicentra and asked what's the name of this flower, I would say dicentra rather than love lies bleeding. I never imagined she would memorise them. Then pushing her round a garden centre in a pram she'd just shout, "look, hydrangea, and a rhododendron" (that was at 15 months and her pronunciation was spot on) and people would stop and ask how old she was. I've always given her the information she wanted but I've only done it when asked and never expected it to be memorised instantly. I think the amazing thing to me has been what she's wanted to know.

But yes, my priority has always been for her to be happy and balanced and yes she has been very hard work. She manages to be very normal with her peers though. We have always prioritised socialisation and play: her school commended us on how grounded she is.

So why do I care if she has lost the spark? Because the change is so dramatic and she seems very unhappy. Because I think it's disappointing for a child who has been the personification of passion and enthusiasm to become so disinterested in the world. Because I miss the child I knew and I don't yet know how to relate to the new one.

Branleuse Sun 16-Jun-13 10:24:53

i wouldnt worry that shes losing anything. I would just carry on, and maybe be slightly more gently pushy to encourage her,

FriendlyLadybird Sun 16-Jun-13 15:21:44

Her brain is still developing and maybe it's developing in different ways at the moment -- so it's giving itself a rest on the obsessive interest in science front. You can't see it, but there may be all sorts of linguistic and emotional programming going on.
You DD had a tremendous head start by being an amazingly early talker, which meant that she was able to zoom off very fast, and very obviously, in some directions. But she needs time to consolidate and time to explore other ways of thinking and learning.
And maybe she's got a bit bored with science? Quite understandable in my book. At 6 my DS knew loads about volcanoes and loved science and geology. Now, at 11, he retains a residual interest in volcanoes but is much more interested in history.
PS Knowing the Latin names of plants is a bit of a red herring by the way, seeing as you told her that was what the plants were called! That's just naming things, which is how all children learn to speak.

Pearlington Sun 16-Jun-13 16:07:56

I think you're missing the point about the plant names. She got words from us but it's still surprising that she used them at 6 months. She must have learned her letters from somewhere but it's odd for her to read them at 11 months. She picked up counting from people countimg in front of her but it was stil surprising when she started counting at 12 months. No one would work out the names of plants without learning them from some place. My point is Latin plant names are long and hard to say. We answered her question about the plant name factually. At 15-16 months it's not typical to correctly identify and name all those plants, just as speaking at 6 months is early. Half of them I've no idea who told her. The ones that came from me weren't repeated or practised, just mentioned in passing. I had no vested interest in the idea of my little baby naming all those plants and it was just another thing that was surprising!!

She was the same with lots of things. I just used that as an example. I didn't have the space to list all the things she was doing so I picked that to be illustrative. A lot of the time I had no idea what she was doing was odd and it was the reaction of other parents with same age kids that tuned me in. A friend whose son was born the same week came over when she was 14 months old and said something was too hot for the baby and my daughter said, "it's not hot actually, it's just warm". This seemed perfectly rational to me but my friend thought it was crazy she spoke like that. This on its own is also meaningless but when you live with a child who does things constantly and ppl are constantly telling you how scary it is, the big picture is different.

And to this day, everyone in her life swears they never told her the letter sounds at 11 months - I can only assume there was a toy with alphabet sounds she must have played with somewhere. But when your 11 month old points at letters in books and tells you their sound correctly, you do know that's not normal. I actually felt slightly sick when that happened because it seemed so wrong it scared me.

prissyenglisharriviste Sun 16-Jun-13 16:15:12

She sounds very like ds1. Including the games thing. I think that's very age appropriate at this point, and to be honest, some age appropriate stuff on amongst everything else is entirely normal. I think sometimes we forget that they are so young, and so sulking about having a tantrum because you aren't as good at a game as an adult (even if you have won, but you feel they are patronising you) seems disproportionate. She might be clever, but she's still a little child.

Everyone pushes carol dweck's stuff. It isn't about what you can do, but the effort you put in, to help brighter kids succeed along the way. So many of them seem to decide they don't want to continue to challenge themselves as they seem to have subliminally decided that they can't afford to fail.

Ds1 has a very fixed mindset. The school were supposed to be working on this with him (as he is 2e) but have done pretty much nothing. His current teacher has decided that because he is happy, then he has had a good year. He is happy because no one has asked him to do a single thing. This suits him, as he would like to decide what he does and when. They are completely blind to the fact they are failing him absolutely.

My other 2 (only one of which is 2e, the other is bog standard gifted) are in different schools. They are making a presence of differentiating, at least.

When dd2 was tested at 5, it was very interesting. It gave us a formal score which is useful to flash about when folk are patronising her, but tbh it didn't make much difference. We use it more to get folk to treat her as normal, tbh.

She's still getting used to the sausage machine stuff of school. It's all a very normal response to sitting in a class with 29 other kids and learning to be part of the herd, in the same way that other kids will use Disney princesses. Completely normal.

amazingmumof6 Sun 16-Jun-13 16:28:51

just a thought, she might enjoy learning/playing chess

Pearlington Sun 16-Jun-13 16:52:08

Thanks prissy. Do you think getting tests done is helpful? At her current state, mind you, she'd just tell them she didn't know in answer to most of the questions!

Amazingmum: she had an 8-month chess obsession when she was four and joined a chess club at school. The chess coach got all excited at her ability in chess and kept calling her the next grand master. I really didn't want her to get too into it tbh as it's such an all consuming hobby and I think a bit elitist. Anyway, she won't go back there because Phoebe moved a rook diagonally and got away with it!! So no more chess...:-) she still tries to teach her friends when they come over but most of them aren't hugely interested.

Pearlington Sun 16-Jun-13 16:57:54

Prissyenglisharriviste - have yours also lost interest then? Yes I do think she's decided she can't afford to fail. What can they do? Anything?

prissyenglisharriviste Mon 17-Jun-13 01:05:06

I just don't think school (or at least the conventional, what passes for education in the state environment) works very well for very bright kids. <understatement>

Ds1 in particular has totally lost interest in learning (or rather he has had every ounce of interest in learning quashed by teachers). For example - learning about instruments that measure the weather: ds1 was sooooooo excited. He came home and wanted to design and make each instrument, a working machine. He asked his sister if he could have a single piece of her long blonde hair, as he had read and wanted to find out if it was true that blonde hair worked better than other colours for measuring humidity etc etc.

His homework was to google which country x instrument was made in, what year y instrument was invented, and which scientist invented such and such z. He then had to draw or make one of them, but it didn't have to work. Just a copy. With labels.

He wanted to make all of them - but then got so fed up with trying to find out what year blah blah blah was invented and where, that he ended up hating everything to do with it. And of course, we weren't helping, be a sue we were trying to get this to do his boring and completely pointless (except as a lame research exercise) 'science' homework.

They then had another science project, and were sent home with a list of electrical components and had to design a steerable remote control car. (We were given a shopping list for the components, and duly ordered the bits he needed). When the stuff was delivered to the school, he was given a one sheet 'how to make a car' rubric, which they were not allowed to deviate from (the simplest possible design with a single steerable axle etc) He was gutted that he wasn't allowed to make the car he had designed himself and ordered the pieces for - he had been looking forward to the pieces arriving so he could get on with it. The spare bits were sent home in a bag at the end of term, by which point he had completely lost interest because the project at school was over and he hadn't been allowed to follow through. (I was also mildly pissed at the waste of money). I mentioned his disappointment in passing to the teacher at the next parents evening, and she basically said 'god, no, they are only allowed to follow the rubric. We don't even let them design a body now, as they were coming up with all sorts, so we have taken that out of the program'. The teacher was so openly adamant that any deviation at all from the bare bones of the curriculum was not in any way accepted or desirable, that the kids have no chance to experiment or actually find out things on their own.

It was a shocking example of exactly what sort of deviations from low average are acceptable in a classroom. None.

Getting tests done is interesting, but doesn't make the blindest bit of difference in my experience. The psych suggested they look at him skipping a year. The school read the report, digested it (allegedly) and then put him in a mixed year class with the year group below.

My girls are a different kettle of fish. One just does all her homework at school in the lessons, so even at 13 hasn't had to do any homework. Even she, by last year, was just essentially whizzing through it because she didn't really have to learn anything - it was just ploughing through, there's no extension involved. Just churn out what's expected and wander off.

The little one has other issues as well. Their way of differentiating was not to give her any math classes for a year, because she knew it all, so was allowed to read or write a story instead. No, I didn't know this at the time.

I'd homeschool if I could afford it. I get flashes of absolute brilliance from all of them - and they get hooked on something and want to keep devouring it, making stuff, learning, but I have to make them sit down and do some pointless worksheet instead, because it's their homework and even though I know they know it (and so does the teacher) the most important part of their education is to churn it all out again and hand it in tomorrow like everyone else.

And don't even start me on spelling lists that are misspelled.

I feel sorry that teaching has become such a dumbed down by rote hideous experience. And that goes for the teachers too, not just the kids.

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