Who wouldn’t love to have a child who’s a prodigy? The Kasparovs, Tiger Woodses, and Lea Salongas of the world must have made their parents proud. Even if not all children with big potential would reach Einstein or Comaneci level in their chosen fields, there are many benefits, now and in the future, to developing a child’s innate abilities.
But is it really up to the parents to unleash the little ones’ potentials?
Genetics not enough
The nature versus nurture debate still rages on, but more and more experts are acknowledging that a healthy mix of the two gives optimal results.
David Rettew, M.D., a child psychiatrist and Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at the University of Vermont, wrote in a blog in Psychology Today entitled Nature Versus Nurture: Where We Are in 2017: “Most scientists … have come to appreciate that the nature and nurture domains are hopelessly interwoven with one another. Genes have an influence on the environments we experience. At the same time, a person’s environment and experience can directly change the level at which certain genes are expressed.”
Meanwhile psychologist Jonathan Wai asserted that “Experts Are Born, Then Made” in his Science Direct research paper included in the Intelligence Journal in 2014.
Unleashed talents better than undeveloped gifts
The Filipino term “uwido,” originally translated as “an ear for music” (from the Spanish word "oido" meaning "heard"), now roughly means “raw talent” in any field. Some people seem to prize “uwido,” which might be related to one’s pride in being self-taught.
In today’s highly competitive world, “uwido” alone might just not cut it. Witness how judges in talent reality shows refer to many contestants as diamonds in the rough, then take on the role of mentors during the length of the competition.
In the book Early Gifts: Recognizing and Nurturing Children’s Talents edited by Kubilius, Weber and Pfeiffer, the introduction includes this: “Guiding the obviously gifted can be a tremendous joy.”
The book mentions the Differentiating Model for Giftedness and Talent (DMGT) theory proposed by retired University du Quebec a Montreal Professor of Psychology Francoys Gagne, Ph.D. Summarized, the theory states that “Talent in a particular field emerges during a long developmental process that has its foundations in remarkable aptitude (the gifts), and benefits from the constant influence of intrapersonal as well as environmental catalysts.”
Inherited or not, gifts are waiting to be discovered
“Each child has an inherent talent or gift,” says Professor Katherine Claudette Avelino-Tandoc. “It may be inherited from either parents, or it may be a unique gift that’s totally different from his or her siblings’ or parents’,” continues Teacher Claude, a psychologist who teaches Family Life and Child Development and regularly conducts lectures for pediatricians on Multiple Intelligences.
According to Donna Lei Matalote, Preschool Head at Our Lady of Perpetual Succor College in Marikina City, it is easy for someone with her experience to identify kids with advanced abilities. Antithetically, not all parents realize what their children are good at, much less intentionally hone their gifts. “Some parents say their kids can already read at age three, while other parents get surprised when we tell them their kids are good in particular areas,” Teacher Donna states.
In that case, there’s nothing else for the parent to do, right? Not exactly. Says Lyn Esmillo, Guidance Counselor at Our Lady of Caysasay Academy in Taal, Batangas: “It is important to provide a wide range of opportunities for the child so that any hidden talents can emerge and blossom.”
Exposure can provide the trigger
Take language, for instance. Linguists have theorized that all children are born with an innate ability to learn a human language. But instead of learning any random language, what the child is first extensively exposed to—Cebuano, English, Nihongo, etc.—is the language he will acquire first.
Teacher Claude provides an example to demonstrate the power of exposure. “A young child with a pianist mom but is separated from her since birth, and placed in an environment with no access to a piano will not develop that talent of playing the piano. But once he or she gets the right exposure and training, the gift will just naturally flow!”
Stimulation, conducive environment go a long way
Teacher Donna thinks her four-year-old daughter, Eleo Drei, is a budding visual artist, who started drawing at age two. “I did not teach her, but when her motor skills were developed enough to hold a pencil, she just started drawing, and I’m proud to say her drawings look good.”
With an engineer husband and Teacher Donna’s own interest in arts, art materials in their home are aplenty, and their kids frequently see both parents dabbling in art. Evidently, a conducive environment is an important element in the honing of gifts.
Ms. Esmillo agrees. “Kids being assisted by their parents are more guided and inspired to demonstrate their skills.”
Holistic support equals physical readiness, motivation, and success
“Children need the training, correct environment, and emotional support the parents provide,” Teacher Claude emphasizes. Besides receiving materials and lessons, children need to hear affirmations that their parents are proud of them and are willing to back them up in whatever endeavor they pursue.
“They should also see to it that their child has a healthy diet and maintains discipline and a healthy lifestyle,” adds Teacher Claude. Sleeping early, doing regular exercises, and receiving proper nourishment enable children to be physically ready to unleash their gifts. Promil, for instance, aids in proper nourishment, and is scientifically designed to support a child’s mental and visual development, growth, digestive health and immunity development to help spark children’s multiple intelligences.
Teacher Claude concludes, “Children with nurturing parents feel good about themselves and feel good about what they are doing. And it can easily be seen in their performance.”