Learning About Gifted Kids
To fully understand gifted kids, it's important to learn about what it means to be gifted, to know just what giftedness is.
Understanding the concepts can help you better understand your child and your child's needs.
Problems Encountered by Gifted Children
Many people think that because gifted kids are smart, they won't have any problems. They think they "have it made." However, gifted children can have plenty of problems from perfectionism to underachievement. Not all gifted children excel in school. The reasons vary, but a common cause is the lack of intellectual stimulation. Look at Stephanie Tolan's "Is It a Cheetah?" to understand how a child can be gifted yet not be recognized in school. Plenty of famous gifted people were not recognized as gifted in their youth. Look at the list of famous people whose giftedness was missed.
Here's a list of some of the problems they can encounter.
- Perfectionism can lead to fear of failure, in turn causing a gifted child to avoid failure by refusing to even try something (including doing a homework assignment!)
- Keen observation, imagination, and ability to see beyond the obvious can cause a gifted child to appear shy, holding back in new situations in order to consider all the implications.
- May require full details before answering questions or offering help, once again making a gifted child appear socially shy.
- Intense sensitivity can cause gifted children to take criticism, or even general anger, very personally. Childhood slights do not roll off their backs.
- Sensitivity and well-developed sense of right and wrong can lead to concern over wars, starving children, pollution and other injustice and violence. If they are overloaded with images and discussions of these issues, they can become introverted and withdrawn or even suffer from "existential depression."
- Asynchronous development allows gifted children to intellectually understand abstract concepts but be unable to deal with those concepts emotionally, leading to an intense concerns about death, the future, sex, and other such issues.
- Asynchronous development can also result in frustration when a gifted child's physical development leads to an inability to complete a task the child is capable of intellectually envisioning. (Perfectionism may play a role in this frustration as well.)
- Asynchronous development also causes a gifted child to be able to participate in adult conversations about issues such as global warming or world hunger one minute and the next minute cry and whine because a sibling took a favorite toy.
- Advanced verbal and reasoning ability can lead a gifted child to be argumentative and/or manipulative. (Adults often remark that the child is a little lawyer!) Parents and other adults need to remember that, although credit should be given for logical and convincing arguments, a child is still a child and requires appropriate discipline, no matter how clever or cute the behavior may look. Children who see that they can manipulate adults can feel very insecure.
- Advanced verbal and reasoning ability can lead a gifted child to be manipulative. (Parents and other adults need to take care that they don't allow this manipulate.)
- Advanced verbal and reasoning ability can lead a gifted child to try to outsmart parents and teachers.
- Sophisticated vocabulary and advanced sense of humor can cause gifted children to be misunderstood, which can make them feel inferior and rejected. (This is one reason gifted children prefer to be around older children and adults.)
- Virtually all their traits can make them feel "different," even at a very early age. It's important, therefore, to get them together with children like them and with people who understand them. (This can be difficult.)