NO! For the Last Time, NOT Every Child is Gifted!

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Not every child is  gifted!  Every child is special, every child has gifts, but NOT every child is  gifted!

Please read this and try to understand.

Read, understand and learn what gifted really means, what life is like for a truly gifted child and how difficult it is to be a gifted adult.  Please don’t continue to be that part of society who devalues these children just because giftedness is deemed a form of elitism, or because it just doesn’t seem fair that one child should be more intellectually advanced than another.   Without your real understanding of what makes up a truly gifted child, or your acknowledgement that not every child is gifted, our society will continue to feel that it is socially unacceptable for these children to shine or publicly display their achievements .  When children are not accepted and supported for who they are, they cannot fulfill their potential.  Misunderstanding of what giftedness is and not acknowledging the critical needs of gifted children have both hindered gifted children’s access to an appropriate education which they need to grow and develop into successful adults.  Without your understanding, our educational system will continue to believe that these children are okay to be held back and languish in the regular classroom, and that it is fine to cut out gifted programs because they also believe that, “hey, these kids are gifted, they’ve got it made anyway.”

Gifted children are blessed with enough, why give them more?  Isn’t this what you think? Isn’t this what too many people think?

If you truly believe every child is gifted, please take a moment to learn who our gifted children really are.

Gifted children are…

are… CHILDREN – Yes, despite their above-average intelligence, out-of-the-norm sensitivities and other quirky characteristics, they are children first!  They are children!  Their above-average intelligence and seemingly mature attitude does not make them more able to handle the ill-feelings leveled at them during their young lives.  They often experience jealousy, rudeness, boredom and bullying because of their giftedness.  They feel like they don’t fit in.  How can we allow a child, any child, to feel any degree of emotional pain when it can be prevented?  Do you think every child feels like they don’t fit in?

are…BORN NOT MADE – These children were born gifted.  Not practiced, not hot-housed, not pushed, not tutored, not just from a higher socio-economic family, and not forced to become intellectually gifted – they were born this way.   It is genetic.  Chances are one or both of their parents are also gifted; and most likely their siblings are gifted, too.  When a child is born gifted, they are born with higher-than-average intellectual abilities, they learn and assimilate information very differently than most other children and they have many emotional and social sensitivities and intensities other children do not have.  Most parents of gifted children say it is wiring – it is how God made them.  But did God make every child gifted?

are… INTELLECTUALLY TALENTED –  Yes, they learn differently, they most likely learn more quickly and they learn more deeply than children who are not identified as intellectually gifted.  Giftedness is usually determined using an intelligence test to determine one’s IQ.  The average IQ is 100; a gifted individual is said to have an IQ of 130 or above.  If every child is gifted, would you say that every child has an IQ of 130 or above?

are… EMOTIONALLY AND SOCIALLY INTENSE – Gifted individuals are born with emotional and social sensitivities and intensities which make their lives a bit more difficult.  Events, sounds, feelings, smells and social situations which would not bother other people could feel so intense to a gifted child that they cry, scream, become anxious, shut down or fall apart.  Do you think every child reacts to a tag on the back of their shirt like it is a piece of wood with hundreds of sharp nails protruding into their skin?

I’ve seen all of the sayings:

Every Child is Gifted.  Some just Open Their Packages Later.

Every Child is Gifted. They Just Unwrap Their Packages at Different Times.

All Children are Gifted. Some Just Open Their Package Sooner Than Others.

All Kids are Gifted. the Only Difference is that Some Open Their Packages Earlier.

I used to believe them, too.  As loving and caring adults, we all want to make sure every child feels special.  And every child IS special.  Every child is born with strengths, talents, and “gifts”, but having gifts is not the same as being born gifted.

The word “gifted” is an unfortunate choice of a word historically used to designate children who were born intellectually talented.  On the other hand, when a child is athletically talented – a natural born athlete – we say he is athletically gifted.  Is every child athletically gifted too, and they just open their athletic gift at a different time?  We’ve seen many piano and singing prodigies in the news, on talent competition television shows and on YouTube videos shared across social media.  Is every child a gifted musician and they just open their musical package later?

When we say and believe that every child is gifted, isn’t it really just the resulting action of our basic human instinct to be inclusive?  Our need to make everyone feel good even though there may be inequality? Saying every child is gifted just makes us feel good because we want to believe that God blessed each and every child with equal amounts of gifts, strengths and talents.  It is our deepest, heartfelt need to include those who are not exhibiting their gifts just yet.  It is beautiful and loving to want to include every child, make them all feel special and then call them all gifted!  This makes us feel like every child is equally blessed.  Did you know with this one compassionate gesture, you are actually singling out and emotionally wounding a group of children when you do this?

Still not convinced?  Recently, I read a blog post by a mom who almost defensively proclaimed that she was so proud of her average child.  Most people who I discussed this post with stated that her envy of gifted children bled into her writing.  Her child was average and she was tired of parents who brag about how well their children are doing academically.  Her child was not doing as well academically.  So, yeah, I can sympathize with her aggravation with being around boasting parents, and the parents of gifted kids have the utterly undeserved reputation of being boastful.  But looking at the flip-side, as parents, don’t we all enjoy sharing our children’s triumphs, wins, achievements and awards?  And being able to share freely and have others rejoice in your child’s triumphs?

I’ve heard many a parent share that their son made the select soccer team or won the singles title in the regional tennis tournament.  On Facebook, parents rightfully share that their child, the quarterback,  just threw the winning touchdown pass.  When your child makes the all-state choir, aren’t you excited to share the good news?  Your child made the cheerleading squad, aren’t you proud and want to let others know?  Your child was accelerated one grade level and….oh…wait….can’t share that!

When your child just won the state Spelling Bee for the third time, you want to share but you can’t because you know nobody wants to hear about your brainy child.  They may even think that he won because you are pushing him too hard to excel and forcing him to study Spelling words for hours on end.

Yes, when it comes to proudly sharing our children’s athletic or musical achievements – socially, that is not looked on as bragging.

When we proudly share our child’s intellectual achievements – THAT is bragging!

Why?

If our child is athletic, artistic or musically gifted, as a society, we nurture their talent and we want to let them shine!  Beauty pageants, pop superstars and multi-million dollar sports arenas are proof of that.  When a child is intellectually gifted, they learn to keep it to themselves or face jealousy or animosity or rejection.  Parents of the intellectually gifted know full well that it is taboo for them to utter anything at all about their gifted child’s intellectual achievements.  Where’s the desire for equality and inclusion here?

If you want to say every child has gifts, I’ll agree.

If you believe every child is blessed with talents, I’ll say you are right.

If you state that all kids have strengths and special traits, I’ll be the next in line to support the same sentiment.

If you proclaim that every child is gifted, I will scream, “YOU ARE WRONG!

 

This post, like so many others,  is in response to this recent post: “Every Child is Gifted and Talented.  Every Single One”

 

RELATED POSTS:

If Every Child is Gifted, Then…  

My Child is Gifted: Do You Think I’m Bragging Now? 

The Burdens of Gifted Children

Every Child is Gifted & Talented. Every Single One.

My Kid is Average and I Am Oh So Proud

Actually, it goes the other way

 

 

Comments

  1. Brilliant. I love how you disclosed that you used to have the same “universal giftedness” mindset but learned to overcome it. That resonates.

    • Yes, we all want to make sure our kids know that they are special, and we all want to believe our kids are smart, but until I had a special-gifted child, I had never realized how discriminatory society is towards giftedness. Anti-intellecutalism is formidable!

  2. Well said! Thank you so much for this post. I’ve tried to have this discussion with people before-and it was like being in a “swarm” of sharks during a feeding frenzy. I work with special needs kids-and I also believe that all kids have skills and talents that are unique to only them. However, in working in this field, I have personally seen many gifted kids shrink back because of the priority placed on “special needs”. The truly gifted children are many times overlooked and often undermined due to the over emphasis we place on inclusion & making everyone feel “special”-even if they just show up. If we are all special, then that means no one really is. The gifted kids are surely NOT included in the inclusion discussion. NO gifted child should ever feel ashamed of their gifted-ness – because others have been taught to react with animosity. They should shine as brightly as they can-and maybe be inspiration to the untalented/un-gifted rather than a source of jealousy. I’m so glad to know that others feel the same way as I do! Love your blog by the way-just found it. Will be following it !

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences! I agree with many of the points you made; we have a long, uphill battle to improve the lives of our gifted children!

  3. One more.
    Gifted children grow into being gifted adults. Adults who are sensitive and intense, who need to be around other gifted adults, who continue to seek out more knowledge, who understand that while everyone has gifts that not everyone is gifted, and who also know that every person is valuable and worthy of respect.

  4. Nicci Stewardson says:

    Thank you! I really needed this today. I so often have to downplay how well my children do academically, and yet everyone asks how their sports are going. I am tired of hearing my children apologize for doing well (even in a gifted classroom) to their friends. I know this is a long, hard road to fight for our children’s right to be educated at their level and to have the right to be proud of their accomplishments–all of them.

  5. Damn right…couldnt have put it better myself…as a gifted adult..I have struggled mightily people laugh at you or use you because you know so much more you can help them right? Or at its most awful tell you to shut up or not use “enormous” words because they didnt understand them..like they are so much more when we are! And to put all of this venom on a child who is exquisite and sensitive and yes emotional even is awful and should be ended now..we dont allow other kinds of bias why do we allow this?

  6. It is almost as if the goal was enforced mediocrity. Every child should be helped to manifest their potential and balance it with some real life values including consideration caring giving and their own sense of satisfaction or happiness. If we help these children to grow and flourish so will our civilization as they contribute to its well being. As one commentator pointed out we dumb everything down and give our children awards for being themselves. One of the greatest assets our society has is its ability to create and innovate. It makes our country and the world a better place to live and we should therefore nourish it. This also should cover children with the pseudo affliction of ADD or ADHD. How many gifted children who could contribute to the advances of civilization are being drugged into oblivion. Instead we should have developed techniques to help them harness their energies and thoughts on multiple tasks. Instead we have given drug companies life long customers. Instead of a disorder look at it as a gift or challenge and make it work.

    • I totally agree! One colleague of mine calls it the Race to the Bottom. And I agree with your thoughts on the diagnosis and medication of ADD and ADHD. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

    • Have you ever read “Harrison Bergeron”, by Kurt Vonnegut? Vonnegut understood the plight of the gifted. It occurred to me that it needs to be emphasized that, in a regular classroom, intellectually gifted kids are being held back, their educational needs unmet, same as any kid who doesn’t fall into the narrow spectrum of kids whose needs the regular classroom is designed to meet.

      • YES! And thanks for bringing that story up; I had forgotten all about it! I see where our intellectually gifted students quite easily fit into this story of equalization, but I would have to venture that the supporters of gifted and talented football players destined for a professional career would raise the roof if anyone tried to hold back or equalize everyone’s football-playing ability! Yikes!

        Thanks for sharing this!

  7. DAWN PAWLOW says:

    I will agree with your premise. No, not all children are intellectually gifted. However, I feel that some of your post consists of generalities when it comes to what “Gifted children are…” and to the experiences of gifted children and their parents.
    I was an intellectually gifted child, so I feel that I can report that my experience was and is completely different. I will also state that these are only my experiences and observations.
    You state that “They feel like they don’t fit in.” I felt like I fit in, and I never heard my “gifted” friends ever say that they felt that they did not fit in. I was never made to feel bad or unusual by my “normal” peers because I was “gifted”.
    Not all gifted people “are born with emotional and social sensitivities and intensities which make their lives a bit more difficult.” To me that remark just makes it seem like I along with my intellectual peers were and are more likely to become emotional puddles when we face a difficult situation. Really? My friends and I were some pretty tough cookies, of course we didn’t have people making fun of our minds.
    My parents were proud of me and spoke of my accomplishments to their friends, who in turn spoke of their children’s accomplishments (athletic, artistic, musical, and academic). My friends some who are “gifted” and some who are not speak/post about their children’s accomplishments (using the potty for the first time, making all A’s, being accepted into the gifted and talented program, making the varsity softball team, etc.) without feeling like they are bragging.
    Just some thoughts from a “gifted” individual.

    • I’m happy that your school experience was a positive one, but your experience does not reflect the experience of way too many of our gifted children in our schools today. And of course, every gifted child is different and possesses different characteristics and traits. Many educational and psychological professionals seem to agree that the more an individual deviates from the mean on an IQ bell curve, the greater the likelihood that individual will experience or possess non-average characteristics, traits and issues, and the more intense those issues will be. And if these traits and characteristics are ignored or not attended to, then there will likely be negative emotional and psychological effects. Thanks for sharing your experience as a gifted individual; every gifted child deserves to have a positive educational experience such as yours!

  8. Spacegirl32 (@nancyWhoGirl) says:

    I often feel like I have to down play how well my 2 gifted children are doing. I am not sure why I do but I totally brag about how well they are doing in sports. I don’t think I am doing them any favors with this behavior. They should be proud of who they are and I should be more Thankful that we still have a GATE program in our school district.

    • Yes, I agree it is difficult to have to keep your child’s intellectual achievements to yourself, but athletic achievements? Brag away!<—So sad for our kids that we feel this way! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  9. Shannon M. Howell says:

    Not to be a total downer, but not all children have “gifts.” At least, not as we conventionally see them. I know a young girl who is severely handicapped. She is about ten. She cannot sit, walk, or talk. She may have gifts of which I am not aware, but I would say her gift is helping people find their compassion. As I said, not how we traditionally think of it.

    On a completely different note, I refuse to feel guilt for sharing my kids’ accomplishments. I don’t do it excessively and I don’t always do it with pride (sometimes I bemoan the fact that I can’t find books that are age appropriate or that they have been outsmarting me since age 3), but if it were baseball and I could say it, then I say it about academics. Let others think what they will – I want my kids to hear my pride… and not just in what they accomplish, but in what they try.

    So, my son is a viable substitute for GPS in any state he’s been to (equivalent to burping the alphabet backwards.)

    My daughter (age 4) came up with “utensil” for show-n-share for the letter U. She doesn’t want to read because what she can read is boring for her. (equivalent to having your kid refuse to play flag football in PE because the kids aren’t good enough).

    But I also try to support the parents of non-gifted kids. My kids’ insane academics don’t mean it’s not awesome when their kids do well on the science quiz. And I also compliment them on areas where their kids DO excel.

  10. I was wondering what the evidence is for the statement that gifted children “are… EMOTIONAL AND SOCIALLY INTENSE.” Is that a research finding, or is that based on personal anecodotes? The reason I ask is that the paragraph continues with the rhetorical question, “Do you think every child reacts to a tag on the back of their shirt like it is a piece of wood with hundreds of sharp nails protruding into their skin?” and my answer to that question is that quite a few clothing manufacturers these days make T-shirts and camisoles and other inner garments without any tags on them. If mass-market companies are making such products, and an extreme reaction to clothing tags are a sign of giftedness, that rather suggests that everybody (or at least a very large subset of the population, a LOT more than 1 percent of the population) is gifted.

    • The social, sensual, and emotional intensity or “excitability” is a proven, and very well-known scientific fact identified by Dr. Kazimierz Dabrowski around 1964. Read more here: http://www.sengifted.org/archives/articles/dabrowskis-theory-of-positive-disintegration-some-implications-for-teachers-of-gifted-students

      And much like many medical conditions, symptoms such as a headache or chronic nausea or ringing in the ear, can overlap and be a characteristic of more than one medical condition. So, of course an intense reaction to a tag on a t-shirt is not solely indicative of giftedness. That would be narrow-minded to think that one trait can indicate only one condition. Giftedness, as well as many medical or psychological conditions, are complex and multi-faceted.

      On the other hand, a tag on a shirt would make many non-gifted people uncomfortable, and given the choice, they would choose a tagless shirt. But for gifted children with sensual (sense of touch) overexcitabilities, that tag is more than uncomfortable, it could feel more like a razor blade continually piercing their back. I’m sure clothing manufacturers understand their customers’ need for comfort, and I doubt that Fruit of the Loom or Hanes believes they are catering to only gifted individuals.

      Thanks for asking for clarification on gifted children!

      • Thanks for your reply. Alas, I was afraid before you kindly replied that this blog post was all based on the passed-on views of Kazimierz Dąbrowski (1902-1980) as those appear in statements in gifted education literature. I have heard statements like yours here many times over the last decade or more at conferences (local and national) about gifted education. I am a parent of four children (one grown up and living on his own now, hurrah) and I have been curious about these issues since my own childhood in the 1960s and 1970s. I have been looking up the research base on Dąbrowski’s views (e.g., the collection of articles edited by Sal Mendaglio) for years, and have met Michael M. Piechowski, the main proponent of his views, at conferences on gifted education. There just isn’t any research base to support any of the Dabrowski ideas about characteristics of gifted kids. None. A psychologist friend of mine (also a parent and adviser of gifted children who speaks at conferences on gifted education) notes that Dąbrowski is obscure and essentially unknown outside of “giftie land” (that psychologist’s term). There is essentially no uptake of Dąbrowski’s views as a basis for personality research among serious researchers, and personality research is a worldwide enterprise with hundreds of active studies at any given moment.

        I’ll link here, for you and our fellow parents, a book chapter by a researcher on personality and on human intelligence who is a very smart man, a parent himself, and a thoughtful scholar on how personality relates to intelligence. The link is by his courtesy, a link from his faculty website. I hope that we go far beyond the outmoded model of personality from the late Dąbrowski, as that model doesn’t provide good guidance to parents about what to do when children “cry, scream, become anxious, shut down or fall apart” (in the words of your blog post), and I would like parents to have better help for alarming situations like that. The gifted education literature (and especially the popular literature like books for parents or blog posts) badly needs to catch up with at least three decades of psychological research that is nowhere reflected in most advice that parents receive on how to deal with gifted children.

        http://www.tc.umn.edu/~cdeyoung/Pubs/DeYoung_Intelligence-Personality_Chapter.pdf

        Best wishes to all the parents reading this who are looking for help for their children.

        • As a Clinical Psychologist, I would like to respond to your comments. Dabrowski’s theories have provided a valuable framework for understanding the social/emotional behavior of gifted individuals. Research about giftedness can be found in the literature, (see SENGifted, Gifted Child Quarterly, for example), but clearly, more is needed. Your point that his theories do not solve practical concerns, such as how to help a child who is anxious, is not relevant. Dabrowski’s work is not a self-help book, and parents who need help with their children benefit most from trained professionals who can respond directly to their child’s problem.

          It is alarming that you came across a psychologist who was so disparaging of information available about giftedness. It is an embarrassment to me that someone in my profession would respond like this.

          Gail Post, Ph.D./ http://www.giftedchallenges.com

  11. I can’t tell you how much this article soothes my soul, and speaks from it. It’s too bad that I can’t re-post this and still feel comfortable with my family. Getting them to understand that it’s not a rat race. And I can’t explain it to them no matter how hard I try, because they shut down and won’t look at what is in front of them. They won’t take the time to understand no matter how I try to explain it.

  12. Thank you for this post. As a “gifted” adult, and former teacher, married to a more “gifted” adult and having been both blessed and cursed with an amazing even “more” gifted now three year old daughter, your writings are what I need as my husband and I struggle to navigate raising our child. What the world fails to recognize or admit is that “giftedness” is not “smart”. Smart children memorize well, take tests well, study well, gifted individuals, think differently and see the world differently. Gifted children and adults recognize that there are those who are more “gifted” and are able to see the minute gradations of intelligence but the one thing the “gifted” will not do, is the exact thing society is doing, clumping everyone together and saying it is “good-enough”. “Good enough” for me and my husband, however, means that we can not find a preschool for our daughter and when we ask administrators who they are going to “individualize” the curriculum for her, they say, “we can’t” we are not a “gifted school”…she will come to school and learn other things and you will have to “teach” her when she gets home. I can go on and on but I just wanted to simply thank you for putting yourself out there.

    • And I would not be able to put myself out there if there weren’t so, so many parents like you who keep sharing your experiences and stories, proving many times over, that our gifted children are misunderstood, miseducated and mistreated. Thank you, Susan, from the bottom of my heart!

  13. Celi, I posted this on Facebook, but I’ll say it again. Please don’t ever get off your soapbox. No, get a microphone, or better yet a whole loudspeaker system. Repeat, repeat repeat until someone understands.

    • Aww, Marilyn, thank you so much! Really, without encouragement and support from wonderful people like you, I probably would have jumped down some time ago. Thank you SO much for your encouraging words and your support for our gifted children!

  14. Yes, we somehow think that if we just teach the right way or at the right time every child can learn calculus, and yet we don’t think every child can play a Mozart Concerto or become an Olympic figure skater. Athletic and artistic gifts are easily visible. Intellectual gifts are harder to discern. They make people uncomfortable. I vote for changing the word “gifted” to Intellectually Advanced.

    • Evelyn, I like the term, intellectually advanced, too. That is my first choice for a term to replace “gifted.” But then I look at the word “advanced” and I can see this: “Every child is advanced. They just show it in different ways” Or maybe I’m just being sarcastic because it is has been a long day. But, definitely, it is the word “gifted” that causes a lot of trouble! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  15. Such a great post. One additional comment I would like to add, though. There is often the assumption that musically talented children can be easily accepted in our culture. I think this is true if the talent fits mainstream culture’s view of pop music, or if the talent is not “too threatening.” However, highly gifted classically trained musicians also often feel like nerds and outliers; they often hide their talents, are bullied and feel excluded. While most parents don’t necessarily “expect” that their children will achieve that status, the way they may expect them to be intellectually gifted, these children are often perceived as odd, and certainly not given the same status as talented athletes. Many feel shame and often leave the musical field to feel “normal” and fit in. Sound familiar?

    Gail Post, Ph.D./ http://www.giftedchallenges.com

    • Gail, thank you so much for pointing out the plight of the gifted classically trained musicians. I had never thought of them as outliers mainly because I so admire them! I am disheartened that there is yet another group of children we are marginalizing for their talents simply because those talents are not mainstream :( My own son is embarrassed because his passion is video game development & programming, but he feels he would be more accepted if he were more interested in football or hunting…

      Thanks, Gail, for sharing this with us!

      • Thanks, Celi. I don’t think the problem stems from parents as much as from peers, who cannot understand or accept how these gifted musicians differ from them. It is not “cool” to play in the orchestra, and most kids know this. Jazz band might be OK, but wind ensemble is as bad as orchestra. Gifted male actors in musical theatre are taunted as gay. Many kids drop out of music because they want to fit in. Just like they drop out of math, chess, physics, and other academic subjects.

        Gail Post, Ph.D./ http://www.giftedchallenges.com

        • Gail, I can’t thank you enough for sharing this. It is definitely something we all need to be aware of. Although it stems from peer pressure, as adults, being aware of this may help us to influence a change if the opportunity arises.

  16. I have long since stopped talking about my PG son to people outside my immediate family. To numerous to count the times that I have gotten the side-eye or passive aggressive comment about my son’s abilities. With those abilities comes the out-of-nowhere anxiety, and the asynchronous emotional behaviors. His vulnerabilities are seen as silly to some or others blame me for not properly parenting him. “Spare the rod…” nonsense thrown our way, as if I am less moral for how I deal with his sensitivities. I’ve seen adults act bullish towards my son if they know about his giftedness, as in – “Well if he’s so smart, he should know not to cry over being skipped in line”. All of us who are in this community know that our kids synthesize information differently from birth (faster, deeper, intensely) and when it comes to education what should get praised instead gets caveats, as in “Sure he’s memorized the periodic table, but have you seen how messy his take home folder is?”.

    I’ve been taking the lumps quietly, and keeping his achievements to myself. But when other parents try to generalize his unique qualities to include kids who do not have to live with the daily asynchrony – it infuriates me. Yes, all children are gifts. No, not all are gifted. And I am tired of pretending otherwise. /endrant (Thanks for your article, I follow you on twitter too)

    • The entire time I was reading your comment, I was nodding my head, over and over, in agreement! How many stories like yours has to be heard before the rest of the world “gets it”? And there are many of us in the same boat, sadly!

      The most effective tool we have to positively impact the lives of our gifted children is our voice; and social media makes it a heck of a lot easier to make our voices heard! We all need not be afraid to share our stories, and many thanks to you for sharing yours here! Ranting is great – it makes you feel better :) Thank you for sharing! Or ranting! Either way, it’s all good!

  17. Sarah Brentyn says:

    Thank you.

  18. Love your article! I have raised both gifted and special needs children. To me they both have special needs not covered by a typical school curriculum. We were fortunate to have a gifted program in our district, which performed psychological and IQ tests to identify candidates. Because of this, my child went from a situation were they didn’t even know she could read and add in kindergarten (they only tested for letter recognition and counting) to a classroom filled with similar kids (they bussed the kids to all be in one of the district school’s classroom.) And because of that program (which started in the fourth grade) my child finally got excited about school. No more daydreaming, yeah! Watching these kids in action, you see the small ways they are different. There is no one type, but I see how they can be socially awkward, easily excitable, oversensitive, contrary, challenging, and manipulative, to name a few traits common to these kids. Unfortunately, while it is nice they have a group they can cling to, it does not stop the bullying by other children. It also does not stop the other parents from thinking you are a braggart for sharing their accomplishments. When other parents share their children’s success stories, my child’s academic success is all I have to share for my child. Sorry, but my kid even uses her head to kick a ball. ;) I find myself making a joke out of my child’s miniscule athletic ability to try and offset accomplishments I should rightly be proud of. A little more tolerance and compassion by all would go a long way.

    • “A little more tolerance and compassion by all would go a long way.” <—- Yes, wouldn’t that make such a HUGE difference in the lives of our gifted children? And you are not the first one to comment and say how they have to downplay their child’s giftedness by saying how bad they are at something else! I have done that, too, and I feel horrible now for having done it!

      Thank you for sharing your story!

  19. Gabrielle says:

    As a “gifted” adult who enjoys life at the tail of the bell curve, I find the defense of the term “gifted” to be wholly misplaced. Just as other terms (some clinical, some colloquial: imbecile comes to mind, as does retard, queer, Oriental…) have been replaced with *more appropriate* substitutions over time, we are overdue for a new identifier.

    Imagine that some long-ago clinician termed children with high IQs “Better” children. It wouldn’t be impossible to follow his reasoning, but clearly “better” is a loaded term, one with additional connotations that cannot simply be uncoupled once a new definition joins the train. (Consider the repercussions for the politician who used the word “niggardly,” not because it was incorrect in context, but because a sensitive person ought to anticipate how language affects listeners and behave sympathetically.) If someone– or many someones!– tells you that “gifted” comes off as elitist, why wouldn’t you want to examine whether there’s a better way to restate your message? It’s not like we’d have to sacrifice accuracy– in fact, the broadness of the term is at the root of the issue. I believe if we were more well-versed in all the versions of the human condition, and had the language to discuss our children and their needs without resorting to heirarchy, it would benefit children, and caretakers, and society as a whole.

    Additionally, because Momastery is what brought me here and made me think once again about being “gifted” (I hoped for a reprieve between graduation and parenting!), I’d like to encourage anyone who wants to continue the conversation on bragging to read more of Glennon’s writing. She specifically eschews parental bragging; not everyone believes it’s ok to brag about your athlete but not your mathlete. Love and pride and boasting don’t have to go together– in fact, they shouldn’t. Our children need to know that our affection is constant, even as measures of “giftedness” are bound to vary.

    My life experience has demonstrated that “tall poppy syndrome” is a real thing, but so are obnoxious poppies.

    • Yes, there are obnoxious people in all walks and corners of life; no group is exempt.

      The term “gifted” is unfortunate, but that is the term we inherited. It has been used as the professional, clinical, psychological and educational term to identify children who have above-average IQ’s. I don’t believe anyone would know how to go about changing such a long-standing term. The sheer scope – psychological research studies, college textbooks, standardized intelligence tests, school systems’ gifted programs – would all have to edit, change and switch. Who would initiate this change and how would we get everyone to agree on the new word. Anyway, I’m not opposed, but it would be a massive undertaking.

      But changing the term doesn’t solve the entire problem..

      Once a new term is somehow agreed on, we would still be using it to identify children who have higher IQ’s and a greater intellectual capacity. This is what is seen as elitist, not the word. The root of the problem is the fact that anti-intellectualism, jealousy, and competitiveness exists in our society, so these ill feelings will always be leveled at anyone who is deemed in any way as being better – smarter, richer, prettier. No matter how benign or neutral the word would be, gifted children will always be saddled with the stereotype of being better.

      Would we think to change identifiers such as “handsome” or “beautiful” to the more neutral term “physically competent” when referring to a very attractive human simply so those of us who are not attractive don’t feel bad?

      It is not the word, it is the perspectives of people…

      I really appreciate your comments, I agree the term “gifted” is unfortunate, but I disagree that it is the word at the root of the issue….

  20. Thank you so much for the article. It explains why my husband and my daughter are so bothered by the tag on their shirts!~ LOL!
    Gifted children need more understanding from the society, especially at school as well… Thank you and looking forward to your book in 2015.

    • Those darn tags! For my son, it is the seams on his socks! When I go to the store to buy him socks, I must look a little odd rubbing all the toes on each pack of socks I pick up! :) Thanks for your comment and reading my blog!

      • when I read your comment to my other daughter, she said, ” oh my gosh!” She is just like your son. My husband even checks out the thickness and the feel of the socks.
        I am surrounded by them, and I love them so much! I am blessed. Have a blessed week and will continue to follow your blog.

  21. The problem is with the word “gifted” itself. Most people who do not have a clue about gifted education hear the word gifted and many assumptions will come up, such as elitism, and the like. We have to be sensitive about others and take that into account and not get so offended by this! A lot of people are not trying to be rude, but if there was a different terminology that pinpointed the type of kids we are talking about here, it would be easier to explain to outsiders, like myself, who was an outsider before I was a parent. I said the same things before I accepted that my daughter was very bright and different. Someone please invent a new word!!

    • Like so many others, we wish for a new word, but regardless of which word, we do need a term for educational, psychological and medical reasons to identify and serve these children. The problem I foresee is that no matter which term we use, it will have connotations of “smarter”, “superior intelligence” or “above average cognitive function” and those connotations will trigger the accusations of elitism. It probably wouldn’t be long before our new word would evoke all the negative reactions that “gifted” does. More than I wish for a new word, I wish for society to understand our children and not get so offended when they hear the word gifted because being gifted is not all it is cracked up to be!

  22. I especially experienced this with my daughters school. We live in Rochester, MI and the city is marketed as having a great school system. When we approached them about our gifted child, we were told by the principal and district that they didn’t have a gifted program because the whole Rochester School District was set up for gifted kids. Which was there was of saying that “all kids” are gifted. We had to move her to a private school. She is doing great but what a shame that a self proclaimed “innovative” school district is so misled and could not accommodate her learning needs.

    • I’m gonna be a bit snarky here, but is this school district also completely set up for ALL children with learning differences therefore they have no special programs at all? Sorry… But worse than this school district saying “all kids are gifted” is this school district pretending that gifted children have no special learning needs. Gifted education is needed as much as any other special education program.

  23. I think this article is struggling with the issue of language. If we drop gifted = academically gifted, there would be less of a problem. Intellectual or academic giftedness is just one of many types of gifts. But as a society we seem to see intellectual giftedness as a superior gift to all the others because it potentially allows for greater earning potential. So we equate gifts with money and that type of “success”. Which is wrong in my opinion. Everybody has a part to play. Everybody is a creature of God. We are all part of the body of Christ and we need each part to make the whole.

    • Yes, agreed. “But as a society we seem to see intellectual giftedness as a superior gift to all the others because it potentially allows for greater earning potential.” <— and this is THE problem because we all compete with each other on an intellectual level, but we don’t all compete athletically or artistically. And you are right again – we all have a part to play, none better or more important than the other, but intellectual giftedness is usually seen as the “more important.” This has led to gifted children being neglected educationally, and many gifted children therefore give up on being a part of the whole. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  24. Stuart King says:

    I think the enormous sensitivity around intellectual giftedness is the issue; it is easy to see that a child cannot run as fast as another, or cannot jump as high. The fact that these traits are concrete makes it easy to accept; its happens (or doesn’t happen) before your eyes. intellect is different it is abstract and iintelligent children (and adults) can underperform due to any number of external factors, which allows others to say; “See he/she isn’t all that special after all!”. I grew up as a gifted child and I am a gifted adult and I often suspect that the term “gifted” is used ironically! I am perfectly aware that it is a double-edged sword; in my experience a gifted child needs guidance, support and mentoring to allow them to actually benefit from their gift. I suppose just the same as an athlete may need the same. I grew up with very limited support and I suffered as a result. I have a gifted daughter now and I often feel overwhelmed, my experience of giftedness was and still is to some degree, rather negative and it weighs heavily on me that I should give my daughter the best support I can. The sensitivity around giftedness makes it much more difficult; it is a bit of a no-no to even mention it and it becomes really difficult to allow my child to thrive while having to hide the reality of her giftedness.

    Why, oh why can people not just accept that we are different, not better, not worse, just different and we did not ask to be different, it just happened.

    • Stuart, your story explains so well the very essence of why giftedness is a “dirty” word, why it is a double-edged sword, and why we feel we need to hide in the closet. The only “cure” is that we all try to bring giftedness out of the closet, and try to help others understand that being gifted isn’t all rainbows and sunshine and good grades and success. We all need to fearlessly advocate together! Thanks for sharing your story; it is so important for all of us to share our thoughts, stories and ideas!

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  1. […] bring all of these up because of this amazing article that was posted on […]

  2. […] Perhaps the problem is the wording itself. Many people not familiar with the field may not understand that “gifted” has a specific educational meaning, and that gifted students have identifiable educational needs different than their typical peers, that “not every child has the neuropsychological wiring that is the primary characteristic of a gifted child.”  The truth, however, is that for many gifted students and their families, their abilities may frequently feel like more of a struggle than a gift. Parents may be told that their four-year-old doing fourth grade math has to sit through colors and numbers in pre-K another year because he has become a behavior problem. They may be told that they shouldn’t worry so much; they should be grateful their child is so smart, of course they’ll be fine in school. They may be told that their children will receive additional supports: extra worksheets; if they’re lucky, reading at their desk once they have finished their work. These parents may even be told that it’s not fair for them to talk about their child’s gifts, that their desire for services for their child is elitist. They may be told, “gifted children are blessed with enough, why give them more?” […]

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