Home / Features / Opinions / How to handle child prodigies: a must read for parents with ‘Super Talented Kids’

How to handle child prodigies: a must read for parents with ‘Super Talented Kids’

Isaac Kyei Andoh

A month ago, I wrote an article about a 13 year old child prodigy who has been admitted to read BSc Mathematics at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.

My point was that the structure of our Universities and the environment isn’t conducive for developing children and therefore: even though Ruth AmaGyan-Darkwa ticked every academic box, she is going to be deprived of real-life experiences as a child which may be detrimental to her development and possibly affect her in future.

People reacted and the response from the comment in addition to

Michael Jackson’s 93 Grammy Legendary Award speech, inspired this follow-up.

In 93 when Janet Jackson named her brother as the winner of the Grammy Legendary Award 1993. In an emotional awards speech, Michael had this to say:

“In the past month, I have gone from “Where is he?” to “Here he is again!” But I must confess it feels good to be thought of as a person, not as a personality. Because I don’t read all the things written about me, I wasn’t aware the world thought I was so weird and so bizarre, but when you grow up, as I did, in front of one hundred million people since the age of five, you’re automatically different.

The last few weeks I have been cleansing myself and it’s been a rebirth for myself. It’s like a cleansing spirit.

My childhood was completely taken away from me. There was no Christmas, there were no birthdays…It was not a normal childhood, no normal pleasures of childhood. Those were exchanged for hard work, struggle and pain, and eventual material and professional success. But at an awful price, I cannot recreate that part of my life, nor would I change any part of my life.

However, today when I create my music, I feel like an instrument of nature. I wonder what delight nature must feel when we open our hearts and express our God-given talents. The sound of approval rose across the universe and the whole world abounds in magic. Wonder fills our hearts for we have glimpsed, for an instant, the playfulness of life.

And that’s why I love children and learn so much from being around them. I realize that many of the world’s problems today, from the inner city crime to large-scale wars and terrorism, and our overcrowded prisons are a result of the fact that children have had their childhoods stolen from them. The magic, the wonder, the mystery and the innocence of a child’s heart are the seeds of creativity that will heal the world. I really believe that. That we…I love you too…

What we need to learn from children isn’t childish. Being with them connects us to the deeper wisdom of life which is ever present and only asks to be lived. They know the way to solutions that lie waiting to be recognized within our own hearts”

Welcome Back

If there’s anyone who understands what it means to be living like an adult as a child, that person is Michael Jackson. His early success and the pursuit of wealth left him as a rich adult with the identity crisis.

There are many children with extraordinary ability to do things that are ordinarily beyond their age in this country and whose abilities cannot be ignored.

Such children are the pride of their parents and even the entire nation. In fact, sometimes they used as an instrument for challenging and abusing their colleagues who cannot match their high standards.

However, as we seek to harness these, talents, their needs should not be overlooked.

Children don’t need massive media attention; they don’t need daily appearance in the front pages of newspapers and don’t need to be seen as the key to answering problems that stare in the face of adults.

Parents who see their kids’ talent as the key to making money or feeding their ego should remember that regardless of how good she is, while she remains a child, she needs her childhood experience so that she can grow to become a balanced adult in future.  In creative arts, academia, technology and other areas: we are blessed with many of such.

What I want is to see these gems scaling unimaginable heights in future

I want to see Abraham Atta, Tutulapatu, Awal Mohammed, DJ Swtich grow to become top notch in what they are wowing us with today.

These are kids whose inherent gifts have exposes them to the adult world and therefore need to be well managed so that they don’t miss out on real childhood experiences while pursuing an elephant-sized ambition at a tender age.

History all over the world has taught us that child prodigies do not always end up becoming genius adults even in the field that catapulted them to stardom so early in their formative years.

The most important thing is for child prodigies to transition to become geniuses because of as much as they are discovered as children competitive in adult level activities; the actual expectation is that they’d grow be make our nation better.

What we tend to forget is that child prodigies usually make name for themselves by doing so well what adults are usually expected to do. Like singing, dancing, acting, excelling academically and what have you.

A perfect memory or excellent analytical skills can facilitate learning, but they are not enough to become an adult genius.  To be a genius is to create or discover.  Creating and discovering is preceded by years of endurance, frustration, uncertainty and rejection: traits developed as one grows and transitions from childhood to adulthood and one that most child prodigies are deprived of.

This is why though there are quite a substantial number of child prodigies who grow to become academic gems, they are mostly nowhere to be found when we look for inventors and proponents of groundbreaking theories in history.

The silly games children play, the mistakes they make along the way and all that they do that makes them children and to a large extent unwise if measured by the standards of adult life plays a huge role in their self-actualization and ability to think outside the box and create.

In the end, most of the kids who the 13 years old out-jumped over 5 times will grow and as with most instances catch-up with her but they will have an advantage of living their lives in full. This is why she needs to be managed, given a feel of her age even as a university student so that she doesn’t spend most part if her adult life trying to discovering herself.

The adult life is routinely, kids live spontaneously: the difference so huge.

DJ switch should be allowed to play ampe with her mates, Tutulaputu should play his football, come home dirty with mum stirring at him angrily­-­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ they need this.

Going forward, as done in other jurisdictions; we need a policy as a nation to direct our Institutions of Higher Education on how to handle kids like Ruth who find their way there because they have IGs bigger than their ages so that we can benefit from their special gifts in future.

That said though: the greater responsibility lies with the handlers of such children. They should make a conscious effort to make them live like children even as they wow people with their gifts of knowing more than they should.

About Efo Korsi Senyo

Efo Korsi Senyo has over 4 years experience working as investigative journalist with Awake Africa. He is the Head of Awake Investigates. Connect with him via senyo@awakeafrica.com or WhatsApp: +233249155003