I remember seeing a tweet on Twitter from a gifted adult and she said, ‘I wish my parents hadn’t asked me why I couldn’t just be normal’ repeatedly as I grew up. This tweet hit home, because Madison wasn’t even 4 years old yet, and I had already said that more times than I could count. From that day forward I never said it again. I will however catch myself once and awhile asking her why she’s so frustrating, which is basically the same thing, so I need to watch that!
When most people find out their child is gifted they are so happy! Their child is smart and it is ‘cool’ to be gifted. When you look up the definition of being gifted, here’s what you usually see:
That sounds cool! Yay!
But giftedness isn’t just those things. All gifted children are unique. Gifted traits tend to intensify as children grow older. Most don’t qualify until 3rd grade, especially boys. Many are missed because of misdiagnosis by the teachers.
The Hoagies Gifted Education Site provides Characteristics that are realistic:
When I found out Madison was officially gifted, the first thing I did was rejoice. To me it meant she wasn’t crazy. She wasn’t a horrible problem child and I was not an awful parent. And now I could tell the world. (And her teachers that questioned why she was the way she was). What I didn’t realize, is how many wouldn’t listen, care or understand and would view her in the same way. And that breaks my heart. It was my first reality check that she was going to have a much harder time in life because of who she is.
I also started to realize through research that there are different levels of giftedness. Some are just gifted in one area. And if you are blessed to have a child that is gifted in all areas, then they tend to have more quirks and sensitivities. So that explained why Madison had issues when others didn’t. That’s when I realized how much of an uphill battle we were in for.
So why is it important for me to advocate for my daughter?
Foremost because she thinks differently. I always have to ask her why and allow her the opportunity to explain before jumping to conclusions and assuming what looks like the obvious explanation. For example: When Madison started First Grade she told me they found a lizard inside and her teacher told the students she was pretty sure it was dead. Madison lifted her shoe over the lizard and the teacher screamed ‘No!’ Apparently just like anyone, the teacher assumed Madison was planning on stomping on the lizard. When Madison came home from school and told me this, my first reaction was to ask her why. She proceeded to tell me that she put her foot over it because if it was alive, it would run away. She then said, I think my teacher thought I was trying to kill it because she screamed ‘No!’ and by the way Madison described the situation, she was horrified her teacher could even have that thought. Madison just thinks differently and can explain it, but it’s not always how everyone else sees it and so she does a lot of explaining regarding her thought process. If someone doesn’t realize she’s gifted then from the outside looking in it would appear that she is spoiled and not disciplined.
One advantage I have is that many do not realize she will recount conversations and situations word for word back to me on her own. 😉 Then we have the opportunity to talk through them. I have yet to come across a situation or conversation that she has relayed inaccurately. I am very grateful for this because Madison is too honest to a fault. She knows when she is acting immature or has done something wrong and will still tell me all about it. This gives us the opportunity to discuss how she can handle situations in a positive manner in the future.
It is also important for anyone who teaches her as well to understand her.
Here is an excellent article that explains so much and is necessary to read to understand my upcoming posts. It’s also an excellent article for anyone with gifted children or who teach children in general.
The section titled Strengths and Problems of Gifted Children nails it. Madison’s strengths are mostly seen as problems and this is where she is very misunderstood. And she is looked down upon for that, but when in reality she’s an awesome little girl with adult level thinking, the tact of a 4 year old, leadership qualities that are taken as being bossy and who is extremely strong willed.This is where it is our job as parents to advocate for her by #1 not making her feel bad for who she is, but embrace and love her for her unique qualities and #2 explain to others so hopefully they understand.
The hardest part is explaining it to her. While she understands logically, she is very sensitive and it is hard to handle when people or other children are purposely mean. A couple of weeks ago she had a teacher who said, ‘Madison, you are the worst rememberer.’ This was after she humiliated her in front of a bunch of people by announcing a mistake Madison had made. Madison waited until she got into the car to cry.
Madison asked me, ‘Mom, why do people try to joke around and be funny by saying mean things to others and putting them down? They do it a lot.’ I didn’t have an answer for my 7 year old who’s eyes were filled with tears.
She has been accused of cheating at games because she ‘won’ too quickly, has been yelled at because when she is criticized without any positive reinforcement she shuts down and will completely ignore whoever is upsetting her to protect herself. Most kids wouldn’t be affected. Most could blow it off. That’s the double edge sword of giftedness that won’t be achieved by telling her to ‘get thicker skin’ or ‘to get over it’. It’s who she is for life and by doing those things I essentially would be telling her that something is very wrong with her for who she is. And she has now learned that you can’t change people. You can only control your own reactions and surround yourself by those who understand and care. A tough lesson for a young child to have to learn. It’s not easy and learning coping strategies has been one of our number one goals this year for both of us. 😉
I love my daughter more than anything because of who she is. Her characteristics and quirks are the core of her being. Once she is able to use them in a positive manner she will soar! I will never ‘squash’ her and try to make her someone she isn’t because her characteristics and traits are wonderful if understood and are what make her Madison. 🙂 So be proud of your Gifted child! Love and embrace their strengths and help them work through their problems with patience and understanding. All types of Gifted children are unique and wonderful!
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