27/09/2010 08:20 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Exceptional Kids: Talent Is No Guarantee Of Success

A new study has suggested that children who are 'exceptionally talented' are just as likely to fail in life as succeed.

The report - which was based on a study of 210 gifted children - found that only three per cent of the youngsters fulfilled expectations to excel.

Professor Joan Freeman who led the study, said of the children monitored 'maybe only half a dozen might have been what we might consider conventionally successful.'

'At the age of six or seven, the gifted child has potential for amazing things, but many of them are caught in situations where their potentials is handicapped.'

The Professor studied exceptionally talented children from 1974 to the present day. Her findings show that many who failed to achieve as expected were treated differently because of their talents, or robbed of their childhoods - in some instances, taught away from their peer groups, or pushed too hard by their parents.

One example was Andrew Halliburton, who studied secondary school level maths at the age of eight. He ended up working in McDonalds after dropping out of university, but now plans to return to education.

Professor Freeman also noted that exceptionally bright youngsters were often well equipped to deal with things on an intellectual level but not an emotional one, but added: 'I want to stress that the gifted are normal people. But they face special challenges, especially unreal expectations, notably being seen as strange and unhappy.

'Others such as parents and teachers, can feel threatened by them and react with put-downs. What they need is acceptance for who they are, appropriate opportunities to develop their potential and reliable moral support.'

Professor Freeman concluded that attempts to 'hothouse' children will fail if they are put under enormous pressure to perform, saying:

'The pleasures and creativity of childhood are the basis of all great work. Take childhood away from children.'

What do you think? Are our expectations of 'bright' children often too high?