I just ran across a great post by Caitlin Curley discussing some truths about gifted kids. If you’re the parent of a gifted kid, these truths will resonate with you. If you’re not, well, just pay attention and try to understand what it’s like on our side of the fence. The article, 6 Truths About Gifted Kids, describes these truths:

  1. Giftedness is better understood when you think of it in terms of asynchronous development.
  2. Gifted children are supremely sensitive.
  3. Gifted children are intense.
  4. Gifted children can be learning disabled.
  5. Gifted children need to be with intellectual peers.
  6. Gifted children and gifted families need support.

Why are these truths important to understand?

1. Asynchronousity is important to understand because otherwise you will not understand how that four-year-old kid who’s been discussing the plight of the homeless with you suddenly pitches a fit because he was interrupted in the middle of his lecture. Because these kids can think and talk like a much older child, they are also expected to have the emotional control of an older child. That leads people to think  they are immature, when in truth they are just acting their age. The truth is, their emotional, intellectual, and physical development are out of sync. Dealing with asynchronous development is not easy.

2. About those emotions — gifted kids can have some intense emotions. They are often deeply emotionally sensitive.  It does no good to tell these kids that they are making mountains out of molehills. To them, the molehills ARE mountains.  Their depth of feeling makes it difficult for them to slough off the slights the perceive are directed at them. Most kids will forget about some mean comment another child made in short time. The emotionally sensitive child will take mean comments to heart and be upset for a much longer time. It’s not easy dealing with an intensely emotional child.

3. I used to ask parents what one word they would use to describe their gifted child. Nearly all of them said, “intense.” When they are happy, they are ready to explode with joy. When they are sad, they can be inconsolable and feel as though the world is about to end. When they are angry, they seem ready to explode, but this time with anger. When they are interested in a subject, they eat and breathe the topic, talking endlessly about it and learning all they can. It’s small wonder these kids are often misdiagnosed as bi-polar or OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder).

4. People often think that gifted kids stand out, that they are high achievers who don’t need much help learning. It is impossible, therefore, for a gifted child to have a learning disability. The truth is that a child can be both gifted and LD. These children most often fall through the cracks in school because their giftedness “masks” their learning disability and their learning disability “masks’ their giftedness. They end up looking like an average child because their giftedness allows them to make some accommodations for their disability. But those are not the kind of accommodations they need. These kids end up getting none of the accommodations they need – none for their disability and none for their giftedness.

5. Gifted kids often feel out of place. Why? Because most of the other kids their age don’t “get” them. They don’t get their jokes, they don’t share their interests – at least not at the same intense level – and they just don’t think the same way. Without true intellectual peers, gifted kids can internalize the difficulties they have interacting with other kids. They come to believe there is something wrong with them.  Finding and spending time with their true peers can make a great deal of difference to them. I know because I saw the effect true peers had on my son.

6. At this point, the sixth truth should be obvious. With all that gifted kids and their families experience, they need support. But there are most reasons than the other truths suggest. For one thing, we have to battle with our kids’ schools as we attempt to get their academic needs met. For another, we have to endure the animosity of the majority of people in society who think that we “have it made” and shouldn’t be complaining, or perhaps worse, that we are pushing our children and depriving them of their childhood.  We’re just bragging or using our children to build our self-esteem. This isn’t an easy way to live, especially when we have to live with truths 1,2,3, 5, and for some of us, 4.

I do want to add one more truth to this mix. Parenting a gifted child can be a difficult task, but there is an upside to parenting a gifted kid.  It can also be a fun adventure and an absolute joy.

Carol BainbridgeAbout GiftednessGifted Traits
I just ran across a great post by Caitlin Curley discussing some truths about gifted kids. If you're the parent of a gifted kid, these truths will resonate with you. If you're not, well, just pay attention and try to understand what it's like on our side of the...