About Your Gifted Child

I know that your child is gifted, because you told me.

You told me how smart she was the day we met. And then, the next day, on the phone you reminded me that she was highly gifted.

I might not have noticed how incredibly gifted your son was, what with him digging in his ass all day…

I’m pretty sure you know that there are many gifts that children have. There are gifts easily measured on IQ tests, there are gifts of humility and gifts of humanity. There are children who are extremely gifted in the arts, the sciences and some kids are just plain average but they have beautiful smiles.

Your highly gifted kid is bugging me. Teach them some manners, some humility and teach the little prince to shake hands and make eye contact.

Your entitlement, as the parent of a highly gifted child, is building a wall around your child. Unfortunately it’s a wall of parents who have their backs turned. We’re not interested in your kid’s IQ until you can figure out a way to discuss all of our children without making yours first. We don’t want ill mannered brats in our home. We’re pretty sure that we’re smarter than your seven year old, and we do not wish to be challenged by a child.

I gifted my kids with basic manners. Your turn.

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Comments 47

  1. That sense of entitlement that you’ve mentioned is probably the worst “gift” any parent can give their child. Entitlement does not = self-esteem or self-satisfaction, it’s a shame that some kids either a) never learn it or b) have to learn it the hard way.

  2. Ah, now, let’s not just pick on the boorish parents of gifted child who are raising one-trick ponies.

    Sports parents; parents of four-year-old kids are are “hip” and who know who all the latest indie bands are; parents of princesses; parents of “all boy” boys who revel in their kid’s talent to be boys and so are somehow above and beyond rules like “don’t run in the house” and “no, belching isn’t funny” because boys will be boys, don’t you know; parents of kids who are clever enough to be vegetarians; parents who brag about their kid’s ability to survive in the wild for ten days by eating squirrels and building fires from old tires and yet who knock out my mailbox with a baseball bat once a week; kids who are precocious enough to have political opinions at 5 years old; kids who can fart on cue…

    All the things parents promote in their children before just being “nice” and good citizens, for cripes sake.

    Even, ironically, parents who brag about their kids ability to be complete non-conformist sociopaths and not be “good” at anything and who relabel their bad-behaviors as being “independent, free thinker” behaviors.

    I like Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences. And then, I like a kid who can look me in the eye, shake my hand, and ask me how I’m doing. And a kid leaves a room better than when he entered it. And who rolls his eyes when his mom explains away any bad behaviors.

    That’s the only kind of eye rolling I can put up with.

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  4. I have dealt with these parents and children. NOT FUN. I am now fortunate to work with children who are humbled by this “gift” and whose parents allow me to take their child to the next level and seeing there is more to life than drugs, crime, and working at a meanial wage.

    The experience has been mind blowing! They have learned how to determine how much land is needed for parking at a mall, growth and declines of cities since the last census, and are now working on the math involved in scuba diving. They love it, I love it. It reminds me why I am not at a Gucci school.

  5. This really hit the core of an issue that I have with parents who say that their kids are “smart” or “gifted.” I don’t think telling your child, or anyone else, that he/she is smart is helpful to the child in any way. I may think my kids are ridiculously talented, but I’ll only tell them that they “work really hard” at that and praise them for the work that they do and the effort that they put into it. I also never tell anyone else that they are talented, and have forbidding the grandparents from ever saying that they are “smart.” Smart is not something that a child can understand. Parents who brag about their super-talented kids (sports, academics, music) are the same ones that set their children up to meet an expectation of talent that has no definition. In essence, I think these parents are setting kids up to fail. These kids won’t understand that part of worldly success has to do with determination and working hard at something. The parents may not understand that either.

    Don’t tell me your kid is smart. Mine is too, really. Tell me about what you teach your kid; that’s something we can all learn from.

  6. You knocked this one out of the ballpark.

    Many of these parents don’t realize how profoundly handicapped their “gifted” children are. Lacking basic social skills of courtesy and patience, eventually these kids grow to be heartily disliked by almost everyone, including their peers. And it’s the fault of the parents.

  7. I wonder if some of these “gifted” kids don’t actually fall somewhere on the autism spectrum and the parents just don’t realize it. It’s easy to overlook poor social skills when the child is excelling academically.

    1. I have the opposite view. That many kids who are diagnosed with high-functioning autism are actually highly or profoundly gifted. It’s a fuzzy and subjective line. My boys attended a private school for gifted kids for several years. Though I think the cut-off to gain admission was something like top 5% for IQ and achievement tests. I think 10% or more of the students had scores that placed them in the top .1%. They were a quirky lot, indeed. Delightfully quirky in my view (mostly), but definitely wired differently than most of us.

  8. I’m gonna be the one negative voice in the *AMEN* parade.

    Two of the core beliefs and values I try to instill in the children I nanny for, is to 1) Do Unto Others and 2) never say something about someone you wouldn’t say to their face.

    If your child was not following those teachings you have blessed them with, in regards to their manners, wouldn’t you want someone to share it with you? It takes a village? And, your choice to talk about this person in a public space, essentially behind their back, seems cheap and shows a lack of constructive criticism.

    I say this all with a knowledge that we are all entitled to our opinions, and I realize I have the right to not read your blog. But, I appreciate your voice as a Mom with REAL words, even when I don’t agree with them.

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      Thanks Brooke for the thoughtful comment.

      Here’s the thing, I’m not trying to maintain these relationships. I’m done. I think their kids are headed to BIG trouble and the parents are insufferable. They (and I’m not talking two or three here…) aren’t kids that my kids enjoy, and I’m not going to encourage the relationships any longer.

      I’m at a breaking point, I save constructive criticism for relationships I’m invested in.

  9. Sorry to buck the trend, but I expect someone with your educational background to know better. Boorish self-centered parents are one thing, but don’t pick on the kid. Giftedness exists on a continuum much like autism. In fact, the higher up you go on the gifted continuum, the more likely you are to see behaviors that are less like the norm and more what you might see in a high functioning autistic child.

    Academic gifts don’t always translate into social gifts. Quite often they don’t. I mean have you read about Einstein’s personal life or how he treated his first wife?

    I realize in life that EQ (emotional intelligence) will get a personal as far–possibly even farther than IQ, but high IQ tend to be a quirky lot and they can’t help it any more than they can help the color of their eyes.

    The humility–the eye contact– these things might be harder than the child to pick up than algebra. They are not wired like most of us

    I know many parents of highly and profoundly gifted kids. Yes, some of them are obnoxious and dreaming of the day junior heads off to Harvard, but most of the ones I know struggle with raising intense and sometimes quirky kids in a world that does not understand them.

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      We have those schools here too. I’ve watched the moms finagle their kids in by stealing and manipulating tests. When I was in grad school women offered me up to $1,000 for “practice” with the WASC 3.

      I believe in my heart of hearts that these children have spent their lives being told they are smarter than everyone and special. I think their shitty behavior has been smoothed over by well meaning parents who are accidentally crippling them.

      I wish every parent of a gifted child would STOP telling their child they are gifted and START having the same expectations of their children that the rest of the world inevitably will.

      1. I can’t speak to the child or the parents in your post. I’m not denying that someone might have paid you to help throw an IQ test (though I find it appalling). I can speak to the parents of kids who’s brains are wired differently than most. I say nature; you say nuture. The truth lies somewhere in between.

  10. I totally agree with you!

    Most of the parents I knew just don’t know how to deal with it. There were the abusive kids, the kids who wouldn’t stay still, and then the kids who thought their parents had no right what to tell them what to do. I have many friends who got so out of hand that they ended up in rehab, hospitals, and some now even have kids and husbands/wives. We only did just graduate in 2008. The ones who were on medication, they suffered the most because they were so addicted that when the parents tried to ween them off, they got worse.

    And my brother is slowly becoming one of these “gifted” kids with his attitude. He yells at the family, doesn’t want to listen to us, throws fits for every little thing, and thinks that he knows everything. But, that’s mostly for the fact that his school tells the parents that they should be letting their child be more independent. Okay, so he has a girlfriend already and he’s only eight, what next? An STD at age 10?!

    Oh, and can I just say that for anyone that has autistic kids – PLEASE STOP BLAMING THEIR DIAGNOSIS FOR THEIR BEHAVIOR AND EXPECT US TO ACCEPT IT. Why not instead teach them how to respond in the correct manner? They might be a little slow, but believe me, it’ll get better if you actually HELP them. I know this because of my friend. We all tried to help her deal with it, without all the stress that goes into it. She’s now a lot better than she was ten years ago.

  11. Amen! Well said, and you are right, not worth any further investment of your time of your children’s. Since your kids do not enjoy spending time with these kids (I am sure that others kids feel the same way) see nothing wrong with cutting your ties, do it ASAP!

  12. Whoa, touched a nerve there. Seems you are talking about specific families here, so not sure the point here except it’s sure allowed your readers to vent their frustrations. I think there’s a line between intstilling confidence in your kids and teaching them humility and politeness, everyone has different talents, etc. I freely admit I am still learning how to do that as a parent. So it my kids (or me) are too shy to make eye contact or talk about how many goals they scored or math problems they can do, my apologies.

  13. Wow, that comment to parents with autistic kids seems incredibly dismissive. Teach them to respond in the correct way? Oh, duh, why didn’t I think of that. If you have met one child with ASD you have met one child. What worked for your friend’s child might not work for others. Now I am meticulous about correcting my ASD child’s behavior but there are times when it is impossible to reach him. Like when he is in a room full of noisy children and is overwhelmed and overstimulated by all the noise and movement. What do parents that both work full time do with the few hours they have with the child that aren’t taken up taking the child to PT, OT, speech, social skills groups, etc? Can they teach him social skills in those few hours when it takes many repetitions for him to master a single social skills concept and even then he may not generalize that skill to other settings? What if they can’t afford to spend $300 a month just in copays for the OT, PT, and speech? What if they can’t afford programs like RDI or social skills groups that cost around $100 per hour and are not covered by insurance? What if their local school refuses to give the child more than 1 hour of services on social skills per week because it is not related to academics, even though the chances of the child being able to get and keep a job as an adult is very much dependent on social skills? Before you judge these parents of ASD children, perhaps you should walk a mile in their shoes?

    1. Thank you for addressing that short sighted ASD comment of a previous commenter. You did it in a much more eloquent manner than what I would have.

  14. It doesn’t matter what kind of child you are raising (except kids with medical conditions), basic manners/common courtesy is a must in my book. My son is in the so-called “gifted class” but I have been teaching him about humility ever since. I also don’t talk about him being in the gifted class AT ALL. Ok, I did it here but it is to make some sort of a point. Also, I don’t know any of you in real life, so I am technically not bragging… LOL.

  15. Bottom line – It is my job, as a parent to teach my daughter to be polite, that kindness and compassion go a long way, and to always be humble. Because, the good manners that she exhibits from me teaching her these basic skills will far outshine any ‘gift’ or ‘talent’ that she may ever share with the world around her.

  16. HA! What a hot topic!!!

    I’ll never forget, during a “mommy & me” class, a mother turns to me and says…………”you are so lucky to have an average child, it is exhausting having a gifted one”

    NOT KIDDING! Did this woman really just say this to my face? My response…………………..

    “what’s exhausting is listening to you!”

    I politely got up and left the class.

    FYI – my so-called “average” child is doin just fine thank you!

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  17. While we’re at it, can parents of single children please stop blaming the kids HORRIBLE, OBNOXIOUS, RUDE behavior on the fact that they’re a single child?! Doesn’t that give you more time to discipline your kid, not less?!

  18. Seriously. I am so freaking tired of people talking about how gifted and advanced their kids are. I was gifted as a kid – so was my dad. My dad, who has NO people skills, who cheated on my mom for years, who is totally lacking in integrity and intimate relationships. People put way too much stock in IQ, and I’m so sick of the way they treat it like a calling card for their kid.

    I went to a school meeting the other day and one of the moms had the nerve to ask if the kids in the special program would have to go back into the “general public” when they hit middle school. The general public??? Ick. What a sense of entitlement. I hate to think about what kind of citizen that kid will be as an adult.

    Empathy. That’s what I want my kids to have. Gifted? Meh. Who cares.

  19. I’ve been told that I should have my daughter tested for giftedness, I’ve also been told by a prior preschool teacher that she thought my daughter had either Aspergers and/or Sensory Integration Dysfunction. People need to label to have a place to start in helping a child who is having issues that are significant enough to warrant intervention.

    I believe in telling your child he/she is smart however they also have to be taught how to be emotionally intelligent and the ability to do these things with your child is obviously dependent on their current level of functioning. That being said my daughter was thankfully not diagnosed with Aspergers or SID and I don’t know about giftedness yet. Raw intelligence is great but that isn’t what gets you through life…it is wisdom and neither age nor intelligence will breed wisdom. Though I tell my daughter she is smart and to be proud that she can do things so easily, I also try to instill problem solving skills, politeness, etc. by having an open, honest dialogue with her. This is something that takes a long, long time to instill in kids. Though she can be incredibly polite, will open doors and wait for people to go through, will always want to help…will sit down and have an adult-like conversation with an adult at 4…say “please and thank you”, this is also the same kid that will try to take over the classroom so she can be in control, the same girl who will make valiant attempts to thwart authority both at home and at her preschool. My daughter may or may not be gifted…but what I do know, is that she has all those challenging behaviors that gifted children often have and it is not because I am a doormat believe me.

    If your child is labeled gifted…the label is important not because your child is “smart”, yeah that’s great…but what is more important is that he/she get the help they need to be as successful as they can be because even gifted children have challenges that can be significant enough to warrant intervention. Gifted or not I believe my child has been close to that but thankfully…so far her behavior has calmed down. I’ve always said that I don’t want to break the wild horse…I simply want to tame it. Often parents of gifted children simply don’t have the proper tools to handle their child’s needs or their expectations are too high for the child’s emotional level to handle. My daughter is 4 and appears scary smart…but I have to remember that she is still 4. My husband and I were both labeled gifted for different reasons…and the expectations for both of us were so high that it wound up being a set up for failure.

  20. I personally think this just sounds incredibly mean and intolerant. “We don’t want ill-mannered brats in our home?” Fine. Remove “gifted” and replace it with “Autistic”. Or “ADHD.” Some kids are simply who they are and doing their best– they have strengths and weaknesses. Don’t slam the kid based on the parent.

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  21. Hi Jessica, I tweeted on tis some tome ago and found that someone I knew also did the same…This is a great story and is challenging and insightful in equal measure….I love the sentiment, the tone, the attitude and the wisdom…we make too much of people who are gifted…they have so many challenges….I say really gifted are too stupid to put in charge of anything you just get them to sort out hard stuff and then give them more….It’s a form of snobbery that you’ve challenged by naming it and I admire you for that. …Gifted children carry a bigger cross, bigger gift = more expectation…Go on, show us not just what you got, but what you can actually do ….Oh, by the way what I mean by that is , that it isn’t self serving first….Alasdar.

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