Three years have passed since I wrote the popular post, 8 Things the World Must Understand About Gifted Children. Sadly, not much has changed for gifted children—they are still very much misunderstood.
Gifted children are often misunderstood by society and surprisingly, misunderstood even in our educational systems. Many of the common characteristics, behaviors and traits exhibited by gifted children have been misdiagnosed and treated as mental illnesses, behavior disorders and learning disabilities even though these behaviors are simply normal giftedness.
As a parent of a gifted child, it is truly frustrating, even devastating, to have your child misunderstood and subsequently misdiagnosed, mistreated and miseducated—all because not enough is known about the social and emotional quirks of gifted children.
This misunderstanding of gifted children is not a recent phenomenon—this is a decades-long dilemma which has negatively impacted the lives of our gifted children, sometimes tragically. Reason would have us believe that providing the facts and information on gifted children would rectify the misunderstanding—“Here are the facts on gifted children. Now do you understand? Good, let’s fix the problem!”, but there is an emotional thread running through the misunderstanding.
Envy, competitiveness, lack of compassion and resentfulness are emotions others may feel towards gifted children because they are intellectually advanced. And our gifted children seem to be very much affected by these negative emotions cast on them from others— from both adults and children. Why? I would have to say because people just don’t understand that gifted children are so much more complex than the smart, perfect, life-is-easy little people the world thinks they are.
I’ll repeat the original 8 things I feel the world should understand about gifted children and I’m also adding one more:
1. There is more to gifted children than their intelligence.
Gifted children are affectionate, fun-loving, innocent, and yes, sometimes they do misbehave. Their IQ’s do not make them circus freaks, Doogie Howsers or anomalies.
2. They are emotionally very sensitive.
Gifted children may take a small, negative comment and internalize it to the point that they may start to hate themselves or believe everyone hates them. Comments or situations others may not think twice about can wreak emotional havoc on a gifted child.
3. They may think like an adult, but can also act like a much-younger child.
Two words: asynchronous development. Gifted children’s reasoning and critical thinking may rival most adults, but that doesn’t mean they should be expected to be able to socially and emotionally handle adult situations. And they definitely should not be disciplined when they don’t act like the adult they seem to be–discipline should be realistic. They are still children and they should be treated with respect.