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February 24, 2017

The Danger for Talented Kids

“A talent is formed in stillness; a character in the world’s torrent.”
(Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

The world loves a good child prodigy. We celebrate precocious, otherworldly-talented youngsters like Magi to Messiahs, marveling at the youngest violinist, or mathematician, or Alabama football recruit.

I wish we would stop. Possessing an outstanding talent as a youngster is among the easiest ways I know to develop an unbalanced character. The problem is this: Just because one aspect of a kid’s development is accelerated doesn’t mean the rest of him should automatically follow. A six-year-old may have size 11 feet, but that doesn’t automatically mean he wears a size 44 jacket. Not yet, anyway.

And none of it means he’s developing good character along the way, with humility, compassion toward others, gratitude, and respect for authority. That comes through the challenges of struggle, overcoming obstacles, sharing heartache with others, and apologizing when your mistakes are clear.

Most likely, what your young brainiac or early-puberty-home-run-machine wants most is not to be the world’s youngest anything. Probably just longs to be normal, and have some good friends.

Peace begins with pause,

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