Most have listened to my tales of 8 children, two whom have Aspergers and an eight year old, whom we just discovered has a severe learning disability. There is always a forum for these topics, and along with that, usually a sympathetic mom or two who are experiencing the same emotions with whom you can talk to about services (or lack thereof) frustrations, dealing with siblings or the impact of having a special needs child has on a marriage. However, what I haven’t talked about is my daughter who was deemed gifted in grade 4.
When a parent is told their child is “Gifted” academically there is an extreme sense of pride, happiness, a sense of safety and the right to shout out “Lucky child must have got mama’s genes!” You know your child will be successful in school and you won’t have to worry about the gifted child as much as you may have to about other children. School should be a breeze, and hey – is that a scholarship you see a few years down the road? I wish it were that easy but it isn’t.
Life can be hard for a gifted student in many ways. My daughter found this out last year when she first entered middle school. She was very excited because she had been accepted into a specialized Regional program. She was so thrilled to be at a new school, and to meet new friends. Unfortunately, it wasn’t anything at all like she thought it would be. She really had nothing in common with many of her peers because maturity wise she was at a different level. She was out casted socially and emotionally bullied. Why? Because she was smart, she understood the work, she worked hard, and she loved school. Many of her peers were jealous and therefore treated her (for lack of better words) like shit. It tore me apart to see my once social and happy child so miserable.
Aside from the peer issues there are other aspects of a gifted child’s personality that are hard to deal with as a parent. For one they are perfectionists and set very hard standards for themselves. Being driven is one thing but when you are so driven to succeed at such a young age it can cause a child much anxiety, which brings me to my next point. Many gifted children are very anxious, and they worry about everything. My own gifted child suffers daily from a form of anxiety known as OCD.
Gifted children typically have an overactive imagination, which can be a good thing, a bad thing or both. For example, my daughter is very creative and an amazing writer, however, she also comes up with the wildest things that scare her half to death!
When a child has a physical or developmental disorder or a learning disability there are support groups out there for parents and family.
When a child is gifted, there are a bunch of enthusiastic nods, clapping of hands, and exclamations of “Wow that is great!” or “You must be so proud!” There are no monthly meetings to attend where you can talk to other parents of gifted children, or learn more about a gifted child’s IEP or how to deal with the social issues that come up. When it comes to support there are very few schools that actually offer “Gifted” classes. Many will pull the gifted children out of their mainstream class and work with them on various things, but this only happens once or twice a week and for the most part doesn’t really offer them much of a challenge. Many gifted children become bored and some may even begin to get poor grades because they are not given enough stimulation in the classroom.
This year after the first day of school my daughter decided she didn’t want to be bullied anymore or treated differently just because she is smart. We made the decision to take her out of her current school and transfer to another. Fortunately, I was able to find her a school that offers a true gifted program in a contained class of gifted students. At this point her happiness is most important and I think the right decision was made. No child should be bullied because they are smart, or for any other reason.
What about you? Has your child been bullied for any reason?
Until next time,