Bringing out the genius in your child

Experts agree that no one’s born a genius—but parents can help develop traits to fuel a kids’ obsession.

By the time Aelita Andre turned three, she had more art-world accolades than many professional artists. She started painting at nine months old, and galleries were showing her work when she was just two. Now 14 years old, the Australian abstract artist is still going strong; she just closed her most recent solo show in South Korea this month. 

Most children are innately creative and curious. But some are obsessively so and as adults end up transforming their field—or the world. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was composing music by four; Pablo Picasso drew on anything he could from toddlerhood. And though she’s not quite a household name, Catherine Beni graduated high school at 11 and had a Ph.D. in applied mathematics by 20.

Child prodigies such as Mozart and Picasso are rare—most children can’t sustain that creative energy over their lifetimes and often suffer from burnout and other maladies. And though a child prodigy might be labeled a “creative genius,” people considered to be geniuses actually emerge as adults, after they’ve had time to gain a deep well of knowledge in the subject that they’re passionate about.

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