Why Do Parents Keep Asking Me, “Is My Child Really Gifted”?

Actually, I wish I had the one magic answer that would satisfy parents who ask me “Is my child really gifted?” in desperation. “Are you sure my child is gifted? Maybe you (or someone else) made a mistake.” Parents ask this question even when they know that their child is gifted and they have them enrolled in a gifted program or gifted school.

I wonder, Do parents want a different kind of child who is easier to raise—a less challenging child? Whether their son or daughter is having problems listening at home or at school, making friendships, motivating themselves to do their homework, or fulfilling responsibilities at home, precocious children and teenagers can be very frustrating for sure. Heightened sensitivity and unending curiosity looks very similar to ADD or ADHD or Asperger Syndrome, but giftedness is not a psychiatric diagnosis. While social issues and hyperactive behavior are common for gifted children, they are not mental disorders. Challenging characteristics of gifted children need to be attended to from the perspective of intensity and over-sensitivities—for what they are. Look to the community of gifted parents for solutions.

What I have found is that gifted children pick up their parents’ frustration and blame themselves for not following the rules or not being obedient. Smart and perfectionistic kids begin to believe that they are not smart or somehow inadequate and take on a “not enough” identity that makes problem solving even more entrenched and harder to deal with for everyone involved. Parents get too intense about their children’s problems. “What did I do wrong?” “Will he or she be as quirky as my genius brother?”

Stop over-analyzing your child’s problem and just try to help them do better with the issues they are struggling with. Do not “awfulize.” By this I mean don’t think that just because your child has only a few friends that he or she will never grow up and get married. Keep perspective alive in your mind always and your life with your challenging and beautiful children will be a lot easier. If you get a chance read what I have written about Gifted Parent Traps in my two books on gifted children, “Raising Gifted Kids” and “The Challenges of Gifted Children.”

Ask yourself (before you feel like you will fall off a cliff):
1.  How serious is this problem on a scale of 1 to 10?
2.  Is this me over-reacting and making the problem more serious than necessary?
3.  Who can help to put my problem into perspective?

Ask your son or daughter in a calm voice:
1.  How can I help you solve your problem with homework, etc.?
2.  Do you think mom and dad had this problem?