Dangers of Living in the Fast Lane with Gifted Children

In today’s world, “never enough” and “doing to do” (relentless activity) have become an acceptable state of mind and a goal to strive toward. Pressures to purchase, achieve, accumulate, and experiment are ever-present in our culture. Parents have to decide what to expose their children to as they are growing up. “What is appropriate for my child?” has become a serious concern for parents. How fast is fast enough? Does every child have to learn to read in kindergarten? How many playdates, after-school classes, trendy toys, computer games are really necessary? Every parent has to ask themselves, “When is enough, enough?”
Life in the parenting fast lane, which includes a focus on doing everything right and getting every activity and playdate accomplished, is a disaster for gifted children and their families. Gifted children are emotionally intense and perfectionistic by their very nature. They are excruciatingly sensitive to pressures to achieve and perform in school and with friends. And precocious kids can and will over-react to too much stimulation. When mom and dad are anxious about managing their children’s schedules so that every activity is completed, a red flag of trouble can go up for the precocious child. When mom and dad are rushing their kids to school, children experience the attendant pressure and anxiety. In addition, gifted kids are then rushed home, and then taken off to classes and to playdates and tutors. Inevitably, having too much going on will backfire. Gifted children will express their overwhelmed feelings in outlandish temper tantrums. Actually, gifted kids need down-time with their parents to process their thoughts and feelings, some time drawing or reading, or just time being quiet.

It can be dangerous for the development of potential of a gifted child to always be on the go. Parents and children need to slow down and think about what they like to do best or worst, or what has to go. And also, really necessary, is to learn what has to be tolerated no matter what. Homework is done no matter how boring. Hitting your sister for being in your way or just being born is not acceptable. Telling your sister she is a brat is rude and should be against house rules. Gifted kids need to learn to filter out their outrageous behavior. And when parents are too on the go this type of “rude craziness” will be tolerated to just keep the never-enough ball rolling.

Consequences of Fast Lane Parenting for Gifted Kids

1.  Your son or daughter will become more perfectionist and competitive with themselves and others. For example, fast lane children are more likely to say that they hate themselves or that their friends hate them.
2.  The ability to make friendships and keep them will be hampered because companionship is too invested in competition—doing and having the right toys and friends.
3.  Schooling can become boring or not important because it is not charged with enough self-focused intensity.
4.  Collaborative learning experiences will be marginalized when they are actually very crucial as a learning tool.

Rewards of Mindful Parenting

1.  Your child will be calmer and more tolerant of family life and school-related issues.
2.  Your son or daughter will learn to play with a a variety of children in different activities without being overly fearful or judgmental.
3.  Discipline will be easier because parental intensity is reduced by clear goals and expectations.
4.  Your child will develop interests that are the foundation of his or her identity.
5.  Your child will learn to play on his/her own and develop a confident sense of self.

Activities That Promote Calm and Thoughtful Children

1.  Careful choice of activities and discussions of how well your child likes the experience (or does not).
2.  Clear goals and expectations that are child-centered and respected.
3.  Consequences that are appropriate when unacceptable choices are made by your child.
4.  Quiet time every day, which calms down emotional intensity.
5.  Family time every day to develop a sense of family warmth and love.
6.  Homework time when homework is assigned.
7.  Exercise that the child wants to participate in, such as team or individual sports, or creative dance or martial arts.
8.  Community experiences that teach the value of sharing.

In conclusion, parents can calm down their gifted children by being mindful of not adding activities and pressure to their children’s day to day life. Validating calm and responsibility is equally important to a balanced home life. As you try to invest in a calmer lifestyle, your child will learn to do so as well.