His parents divorced when he was a child and he and his older sister, Mandi, were raised by their mother, an experience Gosling has credited with programming him "to think like a girl."
He was bullied in elementary school and had "no pals" – "not in a sad, ‘poor me’ way. I didn’t want any. I liked being alone. It was only when I was 14, 15 I got friends." "I hated being a kid. I didn't like being told what to do, I didn't like my body, I didn't like any of it." In Grade 1, having been heavily influenced by the film Rambo: First Blood, he brought steak knives to school and threw them at other children during recess. This incident lead to a suspension. While attending Cornwall Collegiate and Vocational School, he was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), prescribed Ritalin, and placed in a class for special needs students. He was unable to read which he found "pretty frustrating. I couldn't absorb any of the information, so I caused trouble." Consequently, his mother quit her job and homeschooled him for a year. Gosling has said that homeschooling gave him "a sense of autonomy that I've never really lost".