I am academically gifted, as are 3 of my 4 children. YES, I have experienced pretty much all of the problems listed here. 2 of my 3 gifteds have been treated for depression. They all feel pressured to be "perfect", as did I at their ages. There is a common misconception that "gifted" or "genius" means you know everything. This means that when they get something wrong in school they are mocked and teased mercilessly. This makes them very reluctant to ask questions in class when they don't understand something. The other kids can smell gifted...no one has to tell them your kid is gifted. They can just sniff it out and pounce on it like a pack of hungry wolves.
Having been there myself, I have been able to explain giftedness to my kids, and help them understand both the benefits and the challenges of it. My oldest and youngest were both able to be placed in the gifted program at school and that helped TREMENDOUSLY. Being around other gifted children helps them feel less awkward and can give them tools to handle school. It also gave them the opportunity to explore things that they wouldn't ordinarily get to in school.
My oldest did start hanging out with trouble making kids in high school. A lot of things went in to that....but I think a lot of it was that she was exhausted from being the "smart kid" in class. She longed to feel "normal". Academic giftedness does not equal good decision making skills. We struggled a lot with this when she was in high school. Luckily she was too smart to get involved with their bad habits...but we didn't know that at the time! What harrowing years those were.
I speak very openly and honestly with my kids about their giftedness. I help them to understand why the other kids are so mean to them (it has to do with feeling inadequate and insecure around someone substantially better at something than we are) I help my kids understand it is NOT NOT NOT about them as people, but about the insecurities inside of the children who bully. That has actually made my kids more compassionate toward the very children that torment them. I also make sure my kids understand that they do not get to take credit for their giftedness....it was given to them by God as a gift, and not something about which they should brag. Everyone has talents, everyone has gifts....we must respect all people's gifts.
Above all...if I had advice as both a parent of gifted kids, and a gifted kid myself....YOU are your kids best advocate. A gifted child is a "special needs" child in some ways. They need a challenge, they need to NOT be dumbed down so the rest of the class can keep up, they need to NOT be singled out in class, they do sometimes need tutoring and extra help. Sometimes schools give kids extra work to keep them occupied...your child may see that as a punishment. It is not fair that your gifted child be made to do more work simply because he or she works faster than others. I believe the gifted child who finishes work early should be rewarded, not punished. Work with teachers to figure that out. You must advocate for your kids to make sure they are getting the best education. And oddly....check the homework! Even gifted kids run into things they don't understand. When they do....they often don't know how to handle it and can go into a tailspin of confusion. So make SURE your kid is keeping up (don't just assume they are because they are smart). And get them assistance when they need it.
Hope some of this helps! You are not alone.
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