Should Parents and Teachers Tell Children They're Gifted?

Gifted children sense they're different at an early age

mother talking to young daughter
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Parents often wonder if they should tell children they are gifted. After all, many people believe that it is not good to tell youngsters about their intellectual skill because they fear this information will cause such children to get an inflated ego. They think the children could become arrogant and intolerant of others. They also believe that children who find out they are gifted will develop socialization problems and isolate themselves from classmates.

But the truth is, gifted children often already have socialization problems and learning about giftedness can help them.

The Debate Over the Term "Gifted"

Although learning they have special needs can help gifted children, some parents and educators disapprove of the term gifted because they feel that it implies a child has a “gift,” something that other children do not have. This argument stems from the belief that all children are equal and therefore gifted.

But denying gifted children the facts about their intellectual capabilities can do more harm than good. The truth is that gifted children sense at a very young age that they are not like other children. They can easily misinterpret their feelings of being different as something negative, often seeing themselves as flawed in some way or as having something wrong with them. It can come as a great relief to gifted children to learn that they are not flawed and that there is a reason they feel different.

Additionally, gifted children often feel alienated and alone and develop social problems because they feel different. They may have a hard time making friends, or they may feel misunderstood and disliked. In most cases, gifted children have these problems in school settings where they are forced to create friendships with students in their grade level.

Children who have problems socializing with classmates generally have no trouble making and maintaining friendships with older children or other gifted children.

Letting Children Know They're Gifted Won't Hurt 

Telling a child she is gifted will not make her feel different because chances are that the child already feels that way. On the contrary, letting children know they're gifted and discussing their intellectual capabilities with them will help such children understand why feel like outsiders. Pretending a child's giftedness doesn’t exist won't make those feelings go away, just as pretending a child's disability doesn’t exist won't make the disability go away.

Resources for Gifted Children

Once parents inform children they are gifted, they can refer them to a variety of books on the subject. "The Gifted Kids' Survival Guide for Ages 10 & Under" and "The Gifted Kids Survival Guide: A Teen Handbook" are helpful for elementary school and high school students, respectively. 

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