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If at the birth of their child, a mother or father could ask a fairy godmother to...

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carol-davis | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 14, 2012 at 12:28 PM via web

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If at the birth of their child, a mother or father could ask a fairy godmother to endow the child with the most useful gift, what should that gift be?

Eleanor Roosevelt stated that the gift should be curiosity. To her, the most important thing was to want to know more and to ask the question "Why?"

How would you complete this phrase?  What do you think is the most useful gift?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 14, 2012 at 1:42 PM (Answer #2)

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I will go with "a good personality."  I think that our personality is the most important aspect of us that is inborn and cannot be changed (or at least that is very difficult to change).

Of course, I would want my child to be intelligent and curious and persistent.  But I think that those things can be, to some extent, affected by the behaviors we model and the way we bring our children up.  Personality, by contrast, seems to exist largely independent of upbringing.  Therefore, I would want my children to have personalities that allowed them to get along with others easily.  It would make their lives much easier and would most likely allow them to be more successful in a variety of ways.

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mizzwillie | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted October 14, 2012 at 1:59 PM (Answer #3)

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As a mother of two, I would say "good health and a sense of humor" for many reasons.  Without health, much of anything else is lost.  My son has many issues such as autism, obsessive compulsive disorder, sensory defensiveness, Tourettes Syndrome, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.  He is now 30 years old and doing well, but the struggle was long and hard to find a doctor who could help him.  We ended up with a researcher who never saw patients but agreed to see him because no one else could help.  The only way we made it through the constant round of a new doctor, appointments, a new diagnosis which was often wrong, was his sense of humor.  For example, he described his OCD as a shark which sometimes you could see coming and other times would  bite his butt from underneath without warning.  He tells people that he is alive because he could make his mother laugh anytime as he still can do. 

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carol-davis | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 14, 2012 at 3:12 PM (Answer #4)

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As a mother of two, I would say "good health and a sense of humor" for many reasons.  Without health, much of anything else is lost.  My son has many issues such as autism, obsessive compulsive disorder, sensory defensiveness, Tourettes Syndrome, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.  He is now 30 years old and doing well, but the struggle was long and hard to find a doctor who could help him.  We ended up with a researcher who never saw patients but agreed to see him because no one else could help.  The only way we made it through the constant round of a new doctor, appointments, a new diagnosis which was often wrong, was his sense of humor.  For example, he described his OCD as a shark which sometimes you could see coming and other times would  bite his butt from underneath without warning.  He tells people that he is alive because he could make his mother laugh anytime as he still can do. 

I appreciate you sharing your son's struggles. I really think that you are right about the sense of humor.  It is great that he has been able to keep that humor with his problems.  Thankfully, it sounds like he is doing much better. 

I, too, think that health is a major wish for your children.  Your story made me thankful that for my one child she has not had this kind of issues.  Although she has had major back and knees surgeries, she has been able to recuperate and go on with her career of teaching.

Thanks again. 

Carol Davis

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 14, 2012 at 3:46 PM (Answer #5)

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If I had a child and asked a fairy godmother to bestow a useful gift, it would be grit—or perseverance.

Angela Duckworth of the University of Pennsylvania wanted to study “individual differences that predict success” (see third link).  She found that children who had perseverance, rather than just intelligence, were more likely to succeed.

The students who tried hardest did the best, and the students who didn't try very hard didn't do very well. (americanradioworks.org)

A child’s personality develops through experiences and genetics.  The personality traits a child is born with are referred to as temperament, or genetic predisposition to certain behaviors.  The influences outside of the child are environment.  Both are a factor in personality development.

Temperament and environment influence the development of a person's personality the most. (enotes, see first link)

Perhaps most importantly from a teacher or parent’s perspective, you don’t need a fairy godmother to magically give a kid grit.  Grit can be learned, and more importantly, it can be TAUGHT.

Teachers and parents can help their children develop perseverance by teaching them how to try, and how to not give up.  We can also set positive expectations, and be good role models.  Grit is one of the keys to success for any adult, so why not prepare our children?

Sources:

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 14, 2012 at 8:08 PM (Answer #6)

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If I could magically bestow any special gift on my children I would take the route of the biblical Solomon and ask for wisdom, although I certainly agree with many of the choices already discussed in this topic.

One of my biggest fears as a parent is that one of mich chidren's poor choices in the future will cause them problems or put them in bad situations.  As much as you love you kids, try to teach them right from wrong, and help them to make good choices ultimately they will be left to their own devices to make decisions that will impact their lives.  Knowing that wisdom and understanding was guiding their thoughts as they made decisions would certainly make my life as a parent easier.

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dkaye | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

Posted October 16, 2012 at 6:09 PM (Answer #7)

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I'd go with luck.

Sometimes, success can be achieved by working hard alone.  When I work hard and earn a reward, it feels great!  But sometimes, even when you work hard and you do everything right, you don't get the job or the raise because of some chance occurence.  Say, for example, that you didn't get a job because you were late to the interview--but you were late to the interview because even though you left early and you prepared, there was a car accident on the way there.

I wouldn't want my kid to depend on luck alone--I might not even tell him or her that s/he had received this gift, because I wouldn't want to rob my kids of reveling in that great feeling of success stemming from work. But I'd also want them to have luck on their side to make up the difference between succeeding and failing when they'd done all the right things.

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luiji | Student , Grade 11 | Salutatorian

Posted October 17, 2012 at 3:29 AM (Answer #8)

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Kindness

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speamerfam | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted October 17, 2012 at 5:18 AM (Answer #9)

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I would have to say intelligence.  This might be dreadful to say, but each time I was pregnant, I worried about whether or not I could love a child who was not intelligent. Fortunately, all of my children are intelligent, so my fears were never put to the test.  If a child is intelligent, he or she can get along well with others, make his or her own luck, be curious and persevering naturally, and, I would hope, take care of his or her own body properly to remain in good health. 

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ask996 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted October 17, 2012 at 7:42 PM (Answer #10)

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The gift that I would ask is that my children be gifted with intelligence and compassion for mankind. This gift would enable them to have empathy, and with increased empathy, they could make choices that would change the world for a better place.

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pacorz | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted October 18, 2012 at 9:05 PM (Answer #11)

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I would have to say resiliency. Everyone eventually faces some setbacks in life, and how you view and tackle a setback determines the rest of your life from that point on. Individuals who are resilient will see a setback as a challenge that they can overcome. Resiliency means that you will not give up, that you will approach problems as learning opportunities, that you will work to bring success out of failures, that you will bend instead of breaking,

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lschertz | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted December 10, 2012 at 1:17 AM (Answer #12)

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I like Eleanor Roosevelt's answer.  But I would say open-mindedness would be the most useful gift to bestow upon a newborn child. So many of society's problems stem from clsoed-minded people who are unwilling to accept people's differences.  If we could give a child the ability to be open-minded from the beginning, and not be influenced by others' narrow-mindedness - that child would be much better off, as would society as a whole.

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