Is your child hiding their giftedness to fit in with a non-gifted group of age-mates?

Parents of gifted girls and introverted boys may have found themselves answering mostly C’s on the quiz I created. For those that did, your gifted child is considered to be Type 3: The Underground gifted child.

Often these children feel insecure and are hiding their abilities to fit in.

There may be a few reasons for this:

*Finding a community to be a part of may feel more important to these children than expressing their full amount of drive or curiosity.

Due to the asynchronous nature of gifted brain development, a gifted child may be academically advanced with lagging social skills. Your child may have gone a long time not really understanding what it means to be social, or to be included. The sweetness of finally finding some people to have fun with may override your child’s desire to achieve.

*Your gifted child may be coping with bullying or feelings of exclusion at school or other social events.

If your child’s gifts are what’s getting them into hot water with the school bullies every day, then your child is obviously not going to feel comfortable expressing them. In fact it may be a matter of safety that they don’t.

*She may have gone so long without meaningful academic challenge that she has become complacent about the fact that she’s gifted and has the potential to excel.

Drive and effective work habits are kind of like muscles – If you don’t use them, you lose them. Gifted children need to be met with personally meaningful challenges everyday if we want them to keep trying. Otherwise, they start to ask themselves “What’s the point?”

For the past few months we’ve been working together to identify and understand the six types of gifted child. Keeping in mind, of course, that these types are only a framework for empathy and understanding; they are a place to start as you discover how your child is feeling and strategize ways to help meet their needs.

Parents of Underground gifted children should make enriching activities and entertainment available, but please do not push it on them.

Because giftedness is holistic, time spent as this type is often a phase that children need to go through in order to know themselves socially. However, any type of force or authoritarian strategy, like giving punishments or bribes, is likely to make your child retreat deeper into their underground fortress.

For children that go underground at an early age, a friend of mine has had good success explaining to her child the importance of honesty as the basis for true friendship. If we aren’t honest with the people in our lives about who we are (i.e., gifted) then how can we expect them to be honest about who they are? Honesty and trust are the cornerstones of any meaningful friendship. It took her a while to drive the message home but her young son doesn’t hide any more.

For the next post, I’ll discuss Type 4: The Angry gifted child in more detail.

Won’t you share your perspective on the different types of gifted learners and where you think your child fits in the comments? I love hearing from you!

*This blog post is based on the article, Profiles of the Gifted and Talented (Betts, George, and Maureen Neihart. Profiles of the gifted and talented. Gifted Child Quarterly, National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC), 1988. Web. 2013. <http://www.davidsongifted.org/db/Articles_id_10114.aspx>.).
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