8 Mistakes to Avoid with Highly-Gifted Children

Today, we want to talk about the mistakes to avoid with highly-gifted children, such as treating them like adults. Learn more!
8 Mistakes to Avoid with Highly-Gifted Children

Last update: 16 September, 2022

Highly-gifted children are very difficult to detect. On many occasions, they’re considered children with attention problems or who don’t like to study. This is an absolute failure for the education of these children, as they have different educational needs than other children. These situations are still ignored and no solutions are offered.

A child who’s gifted gets bored at school and becomes unmotivated if their needs aren’t met. This leads to underachievement and, therefore, to their being labeled as lazy, unmotivated, or as having learning disabilities. It’s important to make a correct evaluation and detect these children from an early age in order to offer them an education adapted to their abilities. And at home, it’s essential to adapt parenting to the educational needs of the child and not make mistakes that can harm them.

Why do highly-gifted children usually have low academic performance?

Children with high abilities are often considered children with stellar academic performance, but this isn’t entirely true. Most of them display great performance in the areas or subjects they like. However, in those that are boring, uninteresting, or unchallenging for them, their performance declines. Many times, they become obsessive when they’re immersed in the knowledge of something they find interesting, such as work on dinosaurs, animals, mathematics, or the solar system. Let’s look at some of the explanations for this situation:

  • Their learning pace is different from that of their peers. For this reason, respecting other children’s rhythm causes them to become bored, unmotivated, and frustrated. On many occasions, they become disconnected from what’s being discussed in class.
  • The methods used in traditional education tend to be information processing by repetition and in a sequential manner. In the case of children with high abilities, their processing tends to be more visuospatial. They need to experience and discover for themselves what they learn. In contrast, school makes children acquire information that they then blurt out on a test and then forget.
  • Another reason why these children may underachieve is that, with little effort, they manage to get very good grades, especially in the first years of primary school. The problem arises when they reach high school and this attitude isn’t enough and therefore, their performance declines.
A teenage boy who's bored at school.
Children with high abilities are easily bored and frustrated when the topics covered aren’t of interest to them. For this reason, in many cases, their academic performance declines.

Common mistakes with highly-gifted children?

Highly-gifted children need to be cared for and understood as they deserve. It’s important that we know how to manage their situation and not make mistakes that can harm them. Some of these may be the following:

1. Not letting them be the way they are

Many parents, in order to keep their children from being teased because they see that they don’t fit in with the group, try to make them look like the others. To do this, they ask them to change their behaviors and to copy the interests or others or the way that other children do things.

2. Being too demanding or overprotective

The fact that a child is highly-gifted may cause some parents to be very demanding in terms of their children’s grades. Also, in many cases, being overprotective ends up hurting them.

3. Not giving them the right environment for the development of their abilities

These children have a great intellectual need. They require knowledge, and if this isn’t satisfied, they become bored and frustrated. For that reason, they should be provided with books about their interests and activities that they enjoy to help them enhance their knowledge. These children need to have their minds occupied to be motivated and happy. The role of the family in the education of children with high abilities is very important in order for them to have proper development.

4. Believing that they know everything

Although highly capable children learn very quickly, this doesn’t mean that they know everything. They need people to guide them in their learning and to provide them with answers regarding their doubts about the world or about what they’re trying to learn.

A parent trying to talk to his teenage son.
Treating these children as if they were adults or demanding more from them than necessary is detrimental to them. Despite their IQ, their emotions are like those of their peers.

5. Treating them as if they were adults

We mustn’t forget that, although they have a higher IQ than other children their age, their emotional capacity is equal to the rest. These children may be quick and efficient in their thinking, but they’re still learning how to manage their emotions. They’re not adults and shouldn’t be treated as such.

6. Not talking to them or listening to them

These children don’t know everything. Therefore, listen to them and explain that they’re different from other children, but that this doesn’t make them better or worse than anyone else.

7. Thinking or taking for granted that their abilities make things easier for them

Having high abilities isn’t easy. In fact, it’s quite complicated. Also, there are many challenges to face. Therefore, phrases such as “if I had your ability, I’d be the best” should be avoided.

8. Frequently telling them how smart they are

If parents keep repeating how good their gifted children are and constantly label them with their high abilities or talents, it feeds their pride as well as the parents’ own ego. This can end up creating a narcissistic disorder in the child, who will believe they’re superior to everyone else.

Highly-gifted children are still children

We mustn’t forget that highly gifted children are children. Yes, it’s true that they have different abilities or capacities than the rest of the children of their age, but this doesn’t turn them into mini-adults. It’s important that both at home and at school their needs and intellectual requirements are met so that they advance and don’t become frustrated. This way, their academic performance can be improved.

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