What are some examples of adult prodigies

Child prodigies: Trained talents

Shirley Temple was one, Mozart was one, Sir Yehudi Menuhin was one and Macaulay Caulkin was also considered one - a child prodigy. Already exposed to the drill at a young age just to prove one thing: to be better than the others. But for whom?

"Child prodigies rarely become an adult." Univ.- Prof. Dr. Brigitte Rollett from the Institute for Developmental Psychology at the University of Vienna doesn’t talk about the bush for long. "Because the majority of them no longer want to take the arduous path as adults." Child prodigies, who are they anyway? Children with a general giftedness or a giftedness in a certain area, for example sports, music or mathematics. One or two out of 100 are called “gifted” and you don't always notice their abilities even with them. And then there are those who are pushed to be child prodigies.

Fun is important

So behind every “child prodigy” there are parents. Parents who are happy about every progress that the toddler makes, who want the best for their child, who perhaps also want to see realized what they have not achieved themselves. Parents who often overwhelm their children, who burden their children with a schedule like a manager, who demand discipline and drill and who always compare and measure their child with others in what he does. “The most important criterion is that it is fun and enjoyable for the child to invest their time in something. Not every child always enjoys exercising or exercising. It is important that the majority of them enjoy it. If a child is always forced to do something, it is not good encouragement, on the contrary. These are the children who suddenly stop the thing at some point. Forever, ”says Rollett.

Too much pressure leads to failure

Anyone who overwhelms their child, expects them too much, must expect that they will cause physical and psychological damage. Overuse of the back and joints, but also eating disorders, for example in ballet or ice skating girls, are not uncommon. Rollett: “Apart from the physical impairments, the psychological ones are even more important. If parents work with deprivation of love, then a child will not do something out of interest, but rather not scold the parents. Such children may later fail at work because the support system is no longer there. Children who are overwhelmed often have a lack of motivation. They then refuse everything, do nothing more. And such children are often afraid of failure instead of enjoying success. You are afraid of exams, can no longer meet the high pressure of expectations and thus prevent yourself from being successful. " Parents should therefore ask themselves the following questions: Does my child enjoy the thing? Or am I robbing him of his childhood? Does it still have enough opportunities to play with people of the same age and maintain contacts? What does the professional future look like? “Vocational training is often neglected in favor of a specific, presumably only short-term support”, says the psychologist. “I therefore advise parents to ask themselves what the future of their children should look like. Many so-called child prodigies also fail because parents do not know how to be successful and what the child can do with the talent later. " As a rule of thumb, Rollett recommends observing the child closely to find out strengths and weaknesses, to compensate for weaknesses and to develop strengths. Nevertheless, a school child, for example, should not pursue more than one additional thing, whether music or sport or something else. And with pleasure.

Mag. Lisa Ahammer

November 2012

Photo: picture box, private


“Talent should be encouraged and parents have to perform a difficult balancing act. It is important that the child mostly enjoys what he is doing. It should be promoted in such a way that it can do something with it later. "
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Brigitte Rollett
Institute for Developmental Psychology, University of Vienna

‌ Last updated on May 11, 2020