Dispelling The Myths About Gifted Children

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In my previous article, I wrote about who ‘gifted children’ are, how they are different from talented or smart children, and how parents and teachers can identify whether their children are gifted. Since then, a number of parents reach out to us to ask whether their kids are gifted or not and what it means to have gifted children.

Gifted children are high achievers. We don’t need to worry about them right? My child is gifted in Art and Crafts, will he do well in sports as well?

These were some of the questions and misconceptions that parents had about gifted children. To help dispel some of these misconceptions parents and educators have about gifted children, we have listed the top five myths people have about gifted children:

Myth #1: Gifted children are highly functional, self-directed, and high achievers.
Truth: Gifted children are often perfectionist and idealistic and may equate achievement and grades with self-esteem and self-worth which can sometimes lead to fear of failure and may make them average achievers. What’s more, while ‘gifted children’ may have high IQ and intellectual abilities, their social and emotional intelligence may be underdeveloped.
Parenting Tip: Ensure your child develops holistically across all spheres – physical, mental, emotional, and social – by enrolling them in different activities that build across these spheres. For instance, put your child who is gifted in academics, in sports or dance, so that they develop social skills and physical fitness.
Myth #2: All Gifted children excel at whatever they do.
Truth 2: Gifted children may be ‘gifted’ in one sphere of activities but struggle with other spheres. It is rare for gifted children to excel across multiple activities at the same time.
Parenting Tip: Instead of trying to make a child an all-rounder at the same time, help them focus on the sphere they excel at. At the same time, encouraging them to improve on a couple of activities they struggle with so that they develop high self-esteem and confidence in themselves.
Myth #3: Gifted children do not need help. If they are really gifted, they can manage on their own.
Truth 3: Gifted children are known to set really high standards of achievement and excellence for themselves and can be self-critical and harsh when they fail to meet those standards.
Parenting Tip: As parents of gifted children, it’s very easy to take pride in your child’s abilities and achievements and also become disappointed when they don’t win or do well. Parents should ideally be careful they are not too critical in their children’s failures and are supportive and encouraging when these children deal with setbacks.
Myth #4: Gifted children show high academic excellence and score well in tests and exams.
Truth 4: Gifted children often think abstractly and with such complexity that they may need help with concrete study and test-taking skills. They may not be able to select one answer in a multiple choice question because they see how all the answers might be correct. This is especially for disciplines such as humanities, languages, and arts where these children might have their own point of view or answers that differ from textbook answers.
Parenting Tip: If your child is gifted but doesn’t score well in exams it’s essential you help your child develop test-taking skills. One way to do this is by exposing your child to scored mock examinations and quizzes on consistent bases so that they get exposed to utilizing their minds within certain boundaries and checks. Another way is to sit down and understand how your child answers certain questions and attempts a test, and help them re-work a strategy that will be better for him/her.
Myth #5: Gifted children are not good decision makers and keep focusing on the problems.
Truth 5: Gifted children are problem solvers. They benefit from working on open-ended, interdisciplinary problems; for example, how to solve a shortage of community resources. Gifted children often refuse to work for grades alone and are motivated instead by the challenge of solving difficult problems.
Parenting Tip: As parents, it is very important to give challenging tasks to the gifted children and help them find various solutions to one single challenge. Gifted children like to work around choices. Parents should always encourage choices to their children so that they can be good decision makers in every aspect of their life.