When you start a blog, you make connections in ways that you never expected. One of those connections from me has been this sweet blogger from Flutist Pride. She comments on many of the posts here which I love. Whenever I’m not positive about how to handle a situation with my kids, she’s always the first with advice. She is gifted, like Mr. C, and also autistic, like A-Man, so she always has great advice from a kid who’s been in their shoes! Today we’ve got a great guest post for her that’s perfect for those of you homeschooling gifted kids!
What Not to Say to a Gifted Kid
“You’re smart; you can figure it out”
Never in most parents’ dreams would they discourage their intellectually average child from asking for help, but many of them do it to their gifted children and think nothing of it. Gifted kids are still kids; even if they can figure something out if left to their own devices, doing so might have adverse effects on their emotional health. Discouraging asking for help promotes arrogance, breeds frustration and resentment, and can lead to depression. Thus, this phrase prevents the utilization of their giftedness rather than enhancing it. Most gifted kids actually need to be encouraged to seek assistance; please do so and be there to assist to the best of your abilities.
“(Sibling/peer) wishes they were smart like you”
This trite statement promotes toxic relationships and undermines and invalidates their struggles as well as denying the gifted child’s individuality. The competition-motivated kids will strive to prove they are the smart one and try to trump their sibling’s achievements instead of showing gratitude. The noncompetitive kids will retreat within themselves and wonder why they are never good enough. Do you want a perpetual competition seeker or someone who is content with who they are? Is it more important that your child is sportsmanlike and content with themselves or better than everyone else? Think about that the next time you speak.
“Don’t ask any more questions!”
You might as well have said “Don’t be gifted” if you have ever said this in annoyance. Kids, especially at a young age, have many questions and, naturally, want answers. Gifted kids notice more things and, thus, have more observations, which leads to more questions. By squelching curiosity, you teach that intellectual development is a bad thing. Make time for asking questions. If you’re busy, ask your child to write them down and discuss them when you have the time. Display curiosity yourself. It never hurts to learn something new.
“Everything’s so easy for you.”
Gifted kids tend to be asynchronous; they might be academic superstars, but struggle socially. Someone gifted in language may loathe math because it is tedious and not creative; a mathematically gifted child might find themselves baffled by the nature of language. I have spent years holding in frustration because my parents have said this to me. Getting a certain GPA does not make me or anyone impervious to struggle. Holding a flute does not mean that I do not know pain or failure. Since many gifted kids already feel like they have to be the best and that their struggles are not known, it is imperative that you do not further drive these feelings into their heads.
Nothing at all
Gifted kids tend to need more verbal reminders of their value despite their internalizing nature. You cannot say “I love you” once to a gifted kid and expect them to remember forever. No amount of intelligence can compensate for feeling unloved or alone. Perceived negatives stick while positives slide off. Make sure to give many genuine positives to a gifted child, not backhanded “but you could have done this better” pseudo-positives. That way, they will be more than smart. They will be healthy, ambitious, content, curious, open, and, most importantly, loved. These things cannot be replaced by any IQ score, GPA, award, or designation.
Wasn’t that great? I always love to hear from someone actually living through something to get their perspective, and I’ve definitely been guilty of a few of these!
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