We’ve all heard the saying, “If it isn’t broke, why fix it?” That’s a phrase that comes up occasionally when a parent first senses their child is a little bit “off” but is afraid to come to terms with the fact that their child is actually “gifted” and needs to be treated as such.
None of us have an easy time dealing with change and when it comes to raising our kids, we want to believe that they are growing and developing like every one else with the same set of parameters and issues. When we start to see the signs that our child may have special needs or issues that need addressing, it can bring up a whole host of fears and, sometimes, an impetus towards denial. We may feel that it’s easier just to accept the “different” aspects of our child without really looking into those traits and what they might mean and how we might best nurture them within our child to facilitate them in creating a successful life and identity within.
But doing this can be destructive to the child in the end. It’s very important to understand and identify the gifted child for a variety of reasons. Children who are gifted and not identified or supported as such feel different and alien from others. They may grow bored in school because they already know the material causing them to “check out,” become inattentive, become known as disruptive or problematic and even start to give up on or avoid school altogether. They can lose their love of learning. They become at high risk for underachieving by performing vastly below their ability. They can become anxious and depressed. Most of all, they are likely to have uneven, or asynchronous, development, whereby their strengths are being missed and their weaknesses are being highlighted or ignored as well.
It can be tough to face change as a parent but ignoring the world of “gifted” does more damage in the long run. Raising a gifted child to be their fully flourishing self is the right way to go, a better alternative that allows your child to truly shine in the unique way only they know how.
Dr. Dan Peters, Ph.D., is co-founder of the Summit Center (http://summitcenter.us/), which provides psychological and educational assessments and counseling for children and adolescents, specializing in the gifted, creative, and twice-exceptional.