To Be or Not to Be? Is There A Choice?

Giftedness; it’s not something you can choose or really hide very well. It’s not something you can make up or pretend either. Yet many children have a bit of a problem with it. No, I’m not talking about the kids who aren’t gifted, I’m talking about the gifted kids. Our society has a problem with pride. They’re so proud if a child grows up to be the next big star, or a leader, or an athlete. But heaven forbid if a child is gifted and their comprehension level is higher than average. So they teach those kids about shame. They shouldn’t be proud about that. They should be proud of normalcy, with some talent thrown in in a certain area. I disagree. This pride of normalcy is telling gifted children they aren’t normal, they can’t be like other kids. But they can. It’s ok not to be a cookie cutter mold.

The above average comprehension skills of gifted children can throw many people off at first, and many times can make the child or teen feel isolated. As a three year old, I was reading at a twelfth grade level, with the comprehension of a tenth grader. Needless to say, my parents were careful what they spoke about. No, but really, many children or teens with this level of comprehension can be (I hate to say it) outcasts, loners in the big world of public schools and growing up. They are small bodies with the mind of an adult. Therefore, as they begin to interact with other kids, as groups start to form and circles of friends, and, sadly, as cliques start to build, a child will be accepted and rejected. Why? Because their logic is not the same as that of the others. They automatically analyze the situations they’re in and any ideas and probably totally dismiss them as, well, stupid. For an age group, the ideas are not stupid, but as adults, we see the flaws in them and so can most gifted students. Hence the importance of finding gifted programs. When I first started schooling, I was in a normal kindergarten, and most of the kids probably couldn’t stand me. To fix the problem, every week, the teachers and principal would try to place me in another grade. The fifth week, I was in the fifth grade. I was irritated and bored. I knew everything they were teaching or at least understood it quicker than the kids in the class. I was tutoring fifth graders. I couldn’t stand homework because I though it was pointless. To me, and even through (actual) fifth grade in a gifted program, I thought school was stupid. Mainly because I could comprehend things outside school quicker. My point is that gifted children often get pushed to the edges by other children because they are so unafraid to be different and express that.

This can also cause problems with adults though. In the school system and out, when a gifted child shows blatant disrespect for the system, it won’t go over well. I know what you’re thinking. But my child loves to learn and he loves his teachers and he’s an angel, he would never do such a thing! Good. But this is general. That’s wonderful if it never happens, but don’t be surprised if it does. However, the situation can be diffused. Gifted programs are designed for them and provide them an environment where they can talk about whatever their heart desires. I really enjoyed it myself because all the kids thought like me, were interested in school and learning, etc. Otherwise, outside of school, a gifted child just needs stimulation. Give them a hobby, try to pique their interest. Many love music, the arts, reading, writing. By focusing them on that, you’ll help them grow and give them something to talk about in a group. You know, other than the formulaic expression for salt or politics.

I’m not saying that the above isn’t ok. I’m merely suggesting that some help should be provided and an explanation given why some kids might be overwhelmed by their normal conversation, or how to express oneself, or how to start conversations and make friends. Because their comprehension is so great and they’re mini adults, you’ll be happy to know that this should go over well. If not, just tweak how you’re presenting yourself, try presenting the notion at a different time, etc. Do what works for your kid. These are just general. But overall, teach your kid it’s ok to be. To be gifted, to be smart, to be talented, to be different. To be them.

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The Gifted Child and Communication

Wow. There is so much I could write to you guys right now. I’m going to try not to go crazy and off topic but if I do, it’s a gifted thing. First off, communication is a huge strong point and a giant red weak point. Let’s focus on the good first.

As a quick side point, this might not be exactly like your child, but it is like a lot of the gifted children and teens I was with in school as well as myself. So. Communication. Gifted kids LOVE to talk. Notice how that is in bold and italics? Some people (I’ve actually heard this), round it off as ADHD or ADD, etc. It’s not. It’s our electrical wires in our head buzzing full with electricity and nowhere to store the extra so it bubbles forth as words. Words and ideas that sometimes don’t make sense or connect very well. (E.g. I was young and I connected making friends with smelling feet, I have no clue why. Every time I would see a person, I wanted to talk to them but min went from person talk feet instead of stranger talk friend. Therefore, if I wanted you to be my friend, I made you smell my feet. Sending out an apology here.) It’s okay though. Go along with it. A lot of gifted kids are sensitive, so if you’re tired of the talking, try a simple “Mommy/Daddy had a good day too. It was long. Maybe we can talk later?” Help your gifted kids to connect their ideas in a logical way. I’m not saying to underestimate their intelligence. Make things clear, but tactful.

Now, the negative side. Especially if you have a gifted teen. NEVER, I repeat, NEVER ask them to express how they are feeling. That’s probably a no go. Ask what or why or how something happened. Your need for a straight out answer will not correspond to their need to express themselves in a round about way, most likely tearfully and for an hour or two until, finally, at the very end, they get to how they’re feeling. Don’t just ask “What’s the matter?” A gifted child normally doesn’t know. They just know what happened and what the result was and what got them there. Gifted children are not always logical, but analytical. They base a lot on emotion but explain it as cause and effect. They like step by step directions but will skip to the end and go back to read in between the lines later. In other words, if they’re offended, they probably won’t be in a few minutes after they have thoroughly analyzed the situation from everybodies viewpoint. We normally talk before we think, making it hard to express ourselves. Just keep talking to us though, you’ll get the whole story later. 🙂

This difficulty to express oneself can sometimes lead to feeling isolated, left out, awkward, etc. You will have problems with that. It’s ok. My next post will be talking about that, based on some personal and very recent experiences. But basically, if you help your child with communication and are open to listen, you will have a very bubbly child. It can cause some problems, but we get over things fairly quick. So my advice: don’t be afraid of words, keep talking, keep listening, and enjoy the stories you’ll make to keep for a lifetime!