Is he a science whiz? A piano prodigy? Is she a future Olympic athlete or country music star?

If so, parents have a critical role to play, according to experts interviewed for USA Today.

In fact, no matter what the talent, parents’ wisdom in guiding their kids’ development is the number one predictor of professional and personal success, say the experts.

“Just being a prodigy with raw talent won’t do it,” explains Pat O’Connell Ross of the U.S. Department of Education’s gifted and talented program. Families must create environments where kids can excel. Kids need “the right combination of passion, motivation, creativity and determination.”

Here’s some advice for parents of kids with special talents:

  • Encourage a disciplined, organized life-style—so that practice is part of a regular routine.
  • Let the talent come out naturally. Encourage, but don’t force.
  • Work with your child. Up to the age of 10, kids can’t be expected to practice sensibly by themselves.
  • Don’t let your child sacrifice his education to his talents.
  • Let your child set the pace. Provide opportunities, but don’t take over.
  • Provide rewards, but make sure she doesn’t think she is loved for her achievements alone.

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