Gifted children are born normal children who need love, attention, praise and discipline. Often, upon learning of their child’s genius, many parents change the rules and become too expectant of the gifted child. Suddenly any small failure is a big ordeal, or they simply don’t notice the child is struggling with emotional issues.
Just because someone is discovered to be a genius doesn’t mean they don’t have issues and problems like everyone else. Quite the contrary, many gifted children end up having a huge load of emotional problems by the time they reach young adulthood.
The problem lies with the self-confidence of the gifted child. Upon being discovered, he’s suddenly thrust into special classes with more challenging expectations, is bragged about by parents, and is expected to super-perform. If he fails, even slightly, he’s his own worst enemy, beating himself up and embarrassed by the failure.
Many gifted children become underachievers because they simply don’t want to try and fail. Their fear of failure, especially in front of others, supercedes any other condition. What they don’t try, they can’t fail at, is basically the logic.
When put in a position where they must prove themselves they’ll often quit, blame faulty equipment, blame others they have to work with, or just refuse to do the job at all. Nothing can penetrate the shell they’ve built around themselves. It’s more comfortable for them to be labeled “lazy” or “uncooperative” than “a failure”.
Although many gifted children are diagnosed, then proceed with a fabulous life of opportunities and achievements, there’s the occasional gifted child who is simply lost. For this child’s parents, it can be a harrowing experience watching their super-smart child throw his life away on nothing. In fact, many underachieving geniuses become drug addicts or alcoholics.
Upon learning that your child is academically gifted seek a counselor that can help guide your child through the first few years after being diagnosed. It’s important that your child understands why things are changing for him, what’s expected of him, and that it’s okay to be “normal”. The child needs to understand that no more is expected of him than of any other child. He needs assurance that he’s allowed to fail.
Your gifted child is someone special, but it might not be the best thing for him to be treated as such. Treating your kid like a normal kid is all-important. If he would rather play sports than write a new computer program, let him. Allow him to make his own choices rather than forcing him to strive for harder and harder goals. He will be happier and healthier for it.