Gifted Kids Need More Than Academic Excellence

I was considered a “gifted kid” when I was growing up, and while I was provided with academics that met my needs, there were other situations where I felt like my giftedness could have been dealt with better.

If you have a gifted child, please take the following things into consideration.

  1. Because their achievements are so often remarked upon, gifted children can get the idea that this is the only reason why people like and love them. Please be sure to give your children lots of affection that is not tied to their achievements. They need to know that they are good, caring, interesting people regardless of the awards they have won or exceptional grades.
  2. Gifted doesn’t just mean one thing. It’s easy to give gifted children the impression that they will always be the smartest or most successful. This can lead to dissapointment and anger when they get into broader settings (high school, college and work). Make sure they know that there are lots of exceptional people out there and they don’t have to always finish first.
  3. Gifted children can be stigmatized by their classmates for a variety of reasons. Be sure your child always understands that “Smart is Beautiful!”
  4. Don’t pressure your child into competitions if they are not wired that way. While competition can boost self esteem and be fun for kids, it should never be held out as necessary or the end-all be-all of life.
  5. Gifted children will often befriend other gifted children in both older and younger grades, because these students can relate to their concerns. I know many parents get alarmed when children make friends outside of their own age group, but this is normal for gifted children who tend to want to seek out mentors and act as mentors for others.
  6. School is not the only measure of giftedness. And, in fact, school can be boring and upsetting for many gifted children. Be understanding that a child may have academic difficulties because they are bored with the academic level at their school.
  7. Similarly, a high IQ or test scores may or may not translate to achievement we understand as “gifted” . Try not to take testing too seriously, or worry about scores to the detriment of developing other academic and social skills.
  8. Make sure your children know they don’t have to be perfect. Gifted kids can often put the most pressure on themselves.
  9. Remember that sometimes people are gifted in areas that don’t interest them that much. If your kid is a math genius, but doesn’t like math, remember that it’s perfectly okay fo them to pursue an unrelated career. Skill should not be confused with destiny.
  10. Avoid the gifted label. It’s not worth taking seriously as anything more than shorthand. Your child shouldn’t have to feel different, weird or the subject of a vague euphemism for being smart in a certain way.

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