1. TheMaster734
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    TheMaster734 Member

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    who's the smartest nine year old you know?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by TheMaster734, Feb 25, 2011.

    Yes it has relevance to character development.

    I was just reading through a story I wrote recently about a pair of primary school kids: a boy and the girl who lives across the road from him.

    They've been BFFs for a while, and have this cute kiddie game where they kiss on the cheek when the meet every day.

    Now i won't go into great deal, but an incident occurs at school involving a bully who picks on the little couple for their friendship (think "oooh, they're kissing. yuk!"). Anyway, the boy is embarrassed and tells the girl that they should stop the kissing game and just be normal friends. The girl just smiles and says "ok!"

    I read some notes I jotted from that story and they say that the boy was hurt because it wasn't a game to him, but he thinks it was to her. On the other hand, the girl was of the same mindset, but pretended to think it was just a game so she could hide how sad she was.

    My question is this: is it possible for nine year olds to have that kind of abstract thinking? as in, hiding their true feelings to avoid hurting someone else?

    I've been pondering on that little thought experiment for a while now. And my conclusion is no - I mean, seriously, not even people in their thirties have that kind of mental ability, much less a little kid.

    But I wanted to get some other ideas.
     
  2. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Of course -- 9-year-olds aren't babies, even though some people treat them like they are.

    I feel like when I was a kid (around 9), the smartest of my friends were the ones who preferred make-believe-based games over things like board games or playing with trucks or whatever. Also, the ones who went more in-depth about things. Not in a philsophical way, but for example, let's say someone asks "Is your teacher annoying." The not-so-smart kid would just say "Yeah;" the smarter kid would give examples, anecdotes and stories.

    Now I realize that some people are smart and just not as talkative, or more sensory-based than imaginary-based, but I'm not trying to generalize. those were just some trends I noticed among my brighter-seeming childhood friends.
     
  3. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    First of all, most nine year old boys won't be embarrassed about the kissing thing, they may even brag about it. But yes, the girl might be embarrassed that the other boys have seen it, and the boy won't like seeing the girl that way if he has feelings for her.

    Yes, it is possible, but the children won't know what they are feeling, they'll just show their feelings through their actions and reactions. So, don't jump inside the child's head and write their thoughts, just show it through their actions, and may be dialogues. In your case develop a scene where they both want to kiss but nobody is making the first move unlike the days before the incident.

    "Do you want to kiss?" the boy ask.
    "No," the girl said, still holding his hand. "Do you want to?"
    "No. May be."
    The girl brushed her lips on the boy's palm and ran away. They never played the game again.
     
  4. SeverinR
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    SeverinR Contributing Member

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    Thats the age of confusion,
    they know what they are feeling but don't know what is the right or wrong thing to do, but they don't want their friends, even more so, the girl that is making these feelings happen, to know their confusion.

    I would also add, that 9 year olds now a days, are alot different then when I was 9.

    Deep understanding of their feelings is years away(if ever.), but they are experiencing them now.
     
  5. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think you can have confused feelings - but my issue is with it taking until they are nine for another child to say something.

    My son is four and won't kiss me at nursery (he is hyper affectionate child at home), and my daughter is seven and despite not attending school etc thinks kissing and boys are yuck.
     
  6. TheMaster734
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    TheMaster734 Member

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    some good answers. I don't feel that story to be as unbelievable as i first thought now.

    it should be noted that in the events i didn't describe, the moment between the friends was secluded away from the other kids in the school. the bully follows them to see what they're doing, and then goes out and screams "they're tonguing each other!" to the whole playground, where all the other kids start laughing at them. it's not so much that they were caught that embarrasses the two kids, it's the way in which they were caught and dragged into the public eye of ridicule. if the kid to find them hadn't been a little bum-hole, and just said "hi guys, why don't you two come play sport with us?" or something, then the outcome would have been very different.
     
  7. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    I dont think I currently know any 9-year-olds. But I see child characters as little different than any other characters. As long as it's not totally ridiculous, I don't see a problem with them being somewhat advanced.
     
  8. KillianRussell
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    KillianRussell Contributing Member

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    My younger brother now a Doctor was a Brainiac since birth at 9 he would read the encyclopedia on the toilet
     
  9. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't interpret your story as the kids avoiding hurting someone else, but protecting themselves from exposing their own hurt and vulnerability.

    But either way, I don't think that hiding their true feelings and motivations is the least bit unrealistic for nine year old kids, or even substantially younger kids.

    ChickenFreak
     
  10. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Nope, kids could definitely do that :p
     
  11. HeinleinFan
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    HeinleinFan Banned

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    Of course kids can do that -- hide their true feelings to avoid hurting someone else.

    When I was seven, I was a big kid. I mean, not quite a foot taller than my classmates, but getting there. (I have an awesome picture from a 3rd grade field trip where I was taller than the parent supervising my group.) And I was highly opinionated. I really disliked this one kid who I thought was retarded, because he had trouble speaking. (This was at a Gifted and Talented Education school, so we were all pretty smart, and I found out later the kid was a straight A student. But since he had trouble talking, I didn't know this for a long time.)

    I also hated bullies. So one lunch, when I saw three bigger students picking on the "retarded" kid, I got mad. When one of the boys punched the kid, I had enough. I intervened. I don't remember all of the fight -- I mean, it was fifteen years ago -- but I did at one point pick up one of the bullies and toss him. They quickly left.

    The "retarded" kid was sitting on the ground and crying. He had a bruise, and he was probably feeling horrible; it's no fun to be bullied, but to be taunted when you can't reply is its own special hell. I helped him get up, and stayed with him throughout the rest of the recess, and when the bell rang to go back to class we went back to the classroom together.

    I held his hand on the way back. I didn't know how to comfort him, and (as has been mentioned) he couldn't speak very well. A few people stared. It bothered me for people to look, and laugh, and I didn't like this kid anyway. But I held his hand because it seemed to me that that was the right thing to do.

    I was seven. Now, admittedly, I'm a genius, and perhaps a seven-year-old me would be the equivalent of a typical twelve-year-old. But I take that as pretty strong evidence that a bright nine-year-old could hide their opinions to preserve someone else's feelings.
     
  12. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Possible? Most definitely. Not all kids are the same. Some, at around age 9, can figure out complicated math problems most of us would think is beyond us. So if its possible for this to happen, and that at a very young age whatshisface could compose some awesome music(I dunno the name)

    Then why wouldn't it be possible for these two 9 year olds to feel this way?

    Some kids are as dumb as rocks and then there are the prodigies who make the rest of the world look like we have rocks for brains.

    Not every kid is the same. There will always be one example of just about everything. From the gentle to the little kid who is a serial killer in the making. To the prodigies to the not so smart people. Some are going to be more emotionally aware while others are going to be completely in the dark about these things.

    I am pretty sure I could have just left it as a small post. But when I'm tired I tend to over write. Hell I over write anyways.

    So yeah. I wouldn't worry about having your children characters being slightly above the average. Hell you could have one of them being a super genius who graduates from Harvard at the age of 16 and it still wouldn't be unbelievable. In fact, just now I googled the youngest person to graduate harvard and while not sure if it is, but someone did manage it by 16.

    So yeah I would imagine you are pretty safe if they are infact a bit above the average.
     
  13. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    One former nine year old of my acquaintance was, like the aforementioned braniac, absolutely smarter than most adults. His grandfather preferred talking to him over his adult friends simply because he got a better (more mature) conversation! He'd play chess and beat most adults who'd play against him until the 'grown-ups' started making excuses not to play. The kid had a very rough childhood. His mother was an alcoholic and he had to get himself up, dressed, fed, and out the door for school everyday. He could discuss classical music as easily as the latest rock/heavy metal band. He'd save money to buy his latest girlfriend a diamond heart necklace for Valentine's Day and take her out to dinner (with his grups, of course!) And he was always heartbroken when a girl broke up with him.

    But, as with most people - of any age - now and adult of 21, the finer nuances of emotional relationships continue to elude him. He's better at understanding what makes people tick than most but ... still ... 'tis a puzzle. He was also better at understanding relationships when he was 9.

    The thing is, general intelligence and an IQ of 180 does not necessarily equate being able to grasp emotional relationships any better than someone with an IQ of 90. And sometimes, the guy with the 90 IQ can better understand the ins and outs of a relationship and what makes someone tick than the critically crowded cranium can. So, the trick is to write your characters so someone reading their story believes what you write. Simple, no?
     
  14. lost123
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    lost123 Senior Member

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    9 year old kids don't think like that, they never think like that--------that's for sure.And that doesn't determine the child intelligence. Anyway, nobody gonna read these kind of stories.
     
  15. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    When I was nine, I was friends with a boy in my class. Our parents were also friends, so we saw each other out of school a lot.

    At school we used to be cool, because one day they made fun of us on the bus holding hands. After that, he was sometimes quite off hand to me at school. But--he used to say things like 'oh, if we were ever prisoners of war, they wouldn't be able to find handcuffs for you, your hands are so small'. I knew he was doing it as an excuse to touch my hand briefly, and because he really liked me. He never explained, I just knew. Out of school, it was the greatest non-sexual romantic relationship I have ever had (and I remember also that we felt it would be wrong to kiss too much, although we wanted to do that and a whole lot more).We had very deep feelings for each other, but because we were in different countries later we couldn't meet. We wrote long letters for 20 years (like nearly every week), until he got engaged and then married.

    I also had to help my mother through a threatened miscarriage when I was only 10, and I remember wishing the baby would die quickly because I was sure the pregnancy was not viable, but I had to pretend to my mother I thought everything would be okay (she lost it eventually at 5 months).

    So, in answer to your point, 9 year olds can have deep feelings, fall in love, and try and protect each other or others from hurt. I don't know if all kids are like this, but you don't need to have a stereotyped innocent kid in your story.
     
  16. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    That last part certainly isn't true. ;)
     
  17. lost123
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    lost123 Senior Member

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    :D :D We will see when the story get published
     
  18. Show
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    ^^^^If it gets published, it'll likely have more than enough fans. Not all people want all child characters to be one dimensional decorations. I'd read something with smart 9-year-old leads if it's well written.
     
  19. lost123
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    lost123 Senior Member

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    Even if it is well written :D then the story would give false ideas.:D
     
  20. HeinleinFan
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    HeinleinFan Banned

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    @Show: I'm with you on this. In Ender's Game, many of the main characters are young kids who are also geniuses. In interviews, the author, Orson Scott Card, has mentioned that the reader response was fascinating to him because he'd get letters from adults complaining about the unrealistic intelligence of the characters, and he'd get letters from young geniuses thanking him for writing about people like them.

    @karem: It's true that geniuses are uncommon, but if you haven't met a really smart kid yet, I can testify that it's possible for very young children to be adult-level smart.

    It kind of sucks on the social level, though. I mean, I remember debating evolution with a woman in her 30s when I was 12 or so, and I remember getting frustrated because she apparently hadn't learned even the basics about nuclear physics. She didn't know about isotopes, about half lives, about any of the processes involved in potassium-argon dating or the mathematics behind nuclear decay. It was like trying to debate the existence of rainbows with someone who hasn't learned the names of the colors yet.

    I know I was twelve at the time because that debate happened at summer camp, the year after sixth grade. It was the summer before I got interested in space exploration; by fall of seventh grade I was trying to work out the practicalities of maintaining a permanent colony on the moon. If you have a small nuclear reactor, you can electrolyze water to get hydrogen for fuel and oxygen to breathe, assuming you chose a site that has ice deposits for harvesting... but I digress.

    My point is, while genius children are unusual, they do exist, and many of them are voracious readers. When a book comes out that features really smart kids, they tend to flock to that book and tell their friends. (In my experience, smart people are also more likely to read for fun than regular folks. That doesn't mean all smart people read; just that in my experience they are more likely to do so.)
     
  21. BlackScorpion
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    The age of nine for me is probably a lot closer than most of the people here, and I can strongly remember that even at that age, my knowledge of things, and my judgement of what is right and wrong was very defined. Nine years old is not being like a baby. You are on the cusp off getting dirty jokes, you are capable of making up your own opinions, and your perception of what is reality is very strong. You DO know what you want, short term anyway. The feelings you possess, at times, can be insanely strong, especially if those feelings are towards a person. Your story between these two children could indeed be reality, or not far from it. The feelings between the two kids may not have to be of "girlfriend, boyfriend" type feelings, but feelings of a strong, unbreakable friendship. these two kids would be confused about their feelings about each other, and if nothing like this isn't among their other friends, then they could be ashamed of what they have together. Even at this age, peer pressure is existent, and very powerful, so what might before have seen like the right thing, may seem stupid and foolish. Kids are capable of understanding things by themselves, it's just their perception of reality, or certain situations may be different, and therefore what might seem weird or cute to us, could seem normal or embarrassing, depending on who they are, two them. So I reckon you should write your story, as it could reflect what so many kids out their experience, or feel, but are confused about.
     
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  22. ChickenFreak
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    I continue to be confused as to why a nine year old who does this would be seen as any kind of genius. As far as I can tell, we're talking about empathy - the ability to imagine another person's feelings.

    If I Google the phrase "when do children develop empathy?", what I'm reading suggests that young children show empathy as young as twelve to eighteen months, that the "theory of mind" (a necessary component for full development of empathy) develops around age four, that empathy definitely begins developing in preschool children, that it's generally present if a little patchy in six year olds, and it's pretty well developed by age eight.

    For that matter, there's abstract thinking and a sort of reverse empathy in the bully's behavior in the story, and I don't think that any of us have trouble believing in him. The bully isn't picking some random, unimportant thing to bully about - he's choosing something very important and sensitive to these kids. He understands their feelings and knows how to hurt them. That's just the mirror image of understanding someone's feelings and knowing how _not_ to hurt them. One is morally better, but they're both pretty much the same cognitive accomplishment.

    Kids aren't puppies. At age nine, _most_ of them, not just some special genius subset of them, have the cognitive tools to do what's being described.

    ChickenFreak
     
  23. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'm reminded of when I was nine. Our class put on a class play, Dickens' A Christmas Carol. I was cast as one of Bob Cratchit's kids, and my best friend, also nine, was cast as Scrooge's nephew Fred. In one early scene, Scrooge asks Fred why he got married, and Fred slams his fist on Scrooge's desk and says "Because I fell in love!"

    My best friend could NOT say "Because I fell in love!" without cracking up into uncontrollable little-kid laughter. Nine-year-old boys, some of them anyway, think girls are icky and to talk about loving them is hilarious.

    So the teacher switched our roles. He became Cratchit's kid, and I became Fred. Why? Because I could say "Because I fell in love!" seriously, with a straight face, without cracking up.

    It's a maturity thing. At that age some kids are more mature than others. You can't make blanket statements saying that all nine-year-olds think the same and are at the same emotional maturity level. Look into your own past, and if you remember your own childhood well, you'll probably agree that this is true.
     
  24. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    You have me to thank. In my failed attempt to explain my reasoning this thread sorta went down the genius route. I wasn't trying to say or imply that this is the case.

    What I was trying to say that children are not all the same. If its possible for a 9 year old to understand complex math equations or compose amazingly beautiful music or any other such things. Then wouldn't it also be possible for a 9 year old to have a better grasp of not only his emotions but others?

    Some, if not most, will struggle for years to actually achieve this. But I wouldn't say it would be even remotely unbelievable for a couple of 9 year olds to act and be the way described in the OP.

    You know perhaps I should have gone down the sociopath example? Some young kids are capable of not only harming but killing animals and feel no remorse what so ever. They don't have the capacity to empathize with anyone.

    But if a child is completely unable to achieve this wouldn't its counterpart also be possible? For a kid to not only understand what they are feeling but being capable of empathizing with others?

    Wow I really should have just gone with that.

    But yeah if I caused any confusion with my failure of a post I am sorry. :)
     
  25. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, you're writing fiction and it's generally acceptable that fictional characters are at the least somewhere among the brighter half of the population, given that reading about some numb-skull's inner life isn't gonna be much of a laugh. When it comes to children, better make them a bit smarter than what's usual for their age than making them too childish. We don't wanna read about 12 year olds who are still crying for mommy when they can't fit the square block through the round hole. As long as you don't make them better-knowing, snooty brainiacs (which kills sympathy in the first paragraph) you'll be fine.
     

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