Can you tell? [child's future by age 16]

:eek:If a child will grow up to be something great like president of the united states or a serial killer by age 16?

I don’t think we can use that example as “something great” anymore.

But, I think we can often tell if a 16 year old is heading in the right direction. Not always, of course. 16 is young enough to turn your life around. I know a young woman who was a mess at 16 but by 24 seems destined to have a very successful life.

Very few 16yos are the same person by mid20s.
I’ve raised 3 to adulthood (well kinda, I still worry about Son-of-a-wrek! At 31yo.;))
That and watching their friends.
Crucial life choices are made by the time you’re 21yos. You should have a few goals nailed by then.

Uh oh on username OP combo! Sometimes you can tell and sometimes you can’t. If you knew me as a child you would probably think I would have ended up a serial killer, but so far so good.

I think that by 16, sociopathy might be showing. Torturing animals, beating up teachers a la Trump …

People who are highly ambitious, organized, outgoing, and already involved in politics might be showing signs of being politically successful.


I think I can walk into any classroom of first-graders and predict, after a half a day, with 90% accuracy, which will grow up to be OK andd which will not. But I don’t think you can break it down to much finer percentiles than that.

Too much depends on who a kid chooses to be his role model.

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IMHO absolutely not. Maybe some statistical trend can be found there in early adolescence, but I know of too many young assholes who went good and vice-versa, anecdotally. I’ve certainly enjoyed unearned luck.

Unless those are well over 10% of all your acquaintances, my 90% stilll holds, for the likelihood that a 6-yo will not cross over. Not to quibble with number, a good majority of people are prettty set in their was by early school years,

Really? You can’t? Another guy claimed he could tell anyone’s future within 15 minutes of meeting them. Perhaps you can try harder.

I’m claiming 24 students in four hours. That’s better than 15 minutes. He needs to try harder.

Reference Michael Apted’s 7 Up series. Show me the child, and I will show you the man. Wish it weren’t the case but I think it holds true. Remember, I’m the one who recently discovered that my two teenagers were smoking pot. I’ve adjusted my expectations for their future accordingly.

Probably confirmation bias, but my oldest nephew had a benign tumor by his anus removed while he was still very young, maybe 2-3 years old. Certainly not old enough to remember. My sister (this is her only child) overly hovered, pampered and spoiled him because of the “trauma” he went through. I told my girlfriend, he’s going to be a messed up kid.

Fast forward 20+ years and I don’t know or care about the details. He’s been in jail at least twice, once for drugs and once for illegally discharging a firearm, was put into drug rehab, but immediately went back to doing drugs, assaulted my sister at least once and she’s had to put several TROs on him, possibly assaulted his Dad, has two kids by different women, of which only one is definitely his, asked my sister for $20K to bail out this then girlfriend (what kind of crime requires $20K bail?) and at least once the police came looking for him at my house (which he was kicked out of and kicked out of his Dad’s place, my sister is divorced), causing my Mom to say: “They should put him in jail!”. When he asked for the $20K, my sister said he threatened to kill himself if she didn’t give it to him and my older sister and I simultaneously said “Good!” out of frustration.

Oh, and the best part. He blames my sister for all his trouble saying she made him this way. Which my sister acknowledges, but refuses to let go. Her logic? “He’s only that way when he’s on drugs.” :smack:

The Up Series is a must-see if you are interested in this question.

Several British children from different backgrounds were interviewed…
In 1964, at age 7…
Again age at 14…
At age 21…
At age 28…

The most recent episode is 63 Up in 2019.

It’s amazing to see how much their character at 7 stayed the same throughout their lives.

Probably the best way to watch the series is in order, without any spoilers as to how their lives turned out, but look at the trailer for 63 Up to get an idea. It doesn’t give too much away.

One could, with adequate data, predict a child’s financial success in life, likelihood of incarceration or teen pregnancy, and life expectancy with substantially greater than random odds just by knowing their zip code. Sharing that prediction with the child and their parents and teachers might even increase the likelihood of it coming true. But that would be a cruel thing to do, in the case of a child who already faces socioeconomic disadvantages, and now has to further overcome being seen as a lost cause. Wouldn’t it be preferable to keep your mouth shut and not write off a child’s potential?

You can tell better at age six, than at sixteen. First clue is curiosity. Another is social sensitivity – which ones cry when kittens get no pie. Which ones play fair and share things. Those being raised with intellectual discipline will speak English carefully.

By sixteen, they will indicate earning power, but will mask other traits by already being in social cliques.

Really? All I got from the Up series was how strict caste is in England. Very little if any opportunity to rise above the station you were born into. Your accent decided by your schooling, decides your future very much. Those young kids had already internalized so much about their potential by 7yrs of age. If you’ve limited their aspirations by that age, you can’t expect many surprises in how things play out in my opinion!

Agreed, elbows, but if one looked at the Up subjects at teenage years (or 14 and 21), the indicators are there. And OP had asked about 16 as the age of possible prediction

There are things like the “marshmallow experiment” that may be somewhat predictive. The child is presented with a marshmallow (or other small treat) and told that if they can wait fifteen minutes, they will get two marshmallows. The test is in delayed gratification. Those who could wait were shown to have better outcomes, although it’s not a perfect predictor.

Studies show that a very good indicator of a “successful life” is if the individual demonstrates self-control at an early age. This is in line with the marshmallow experiment above. Sadly, it’s not possible to really train a child to be more in control, so we’re left with our children’s genetic destiny. My DNA is very “in control,” while my husband is less so. I’ve got two sons and unfortunately they got my husband’s DNA. My therapist is preparing me to disengage as they will most likely be disappointing to me.