Why do parents tell their children that they are "gifted"?

The term "gifted" is used so loosely today that maybe we should just stop using it. When parents tell their kids that they are gifted, they want them to feel special but they are also telling their child that they are better than the other children. I'm not so sure that is a good thing. Let's face it, we all know a parent or two that thinks that their kid is the smartest kid in school when in actuality, they are not. In fact, I believe that there are very few truly gifted people in the world.

There is an enrichment program at Northwestern University called the Center for Talent Development. It sells itself as a program for gifted students. The program is great but I take issue the whole gifted premise. They offer Saturday classes for "gifted" students between the ages of 4 and 15. In order to be able to take these classes, you must have a recommendation from a school counselor or take a test. Most CPS counselors automatically give you a letter of recommendation based on your ISAT test scores.

While the gifted children are taking enrichment classes on Saturday, the parents can attend seminars. These seminars always have the word gifted in the title.

  • How to raise a gifted child
  • How to work with your gifted child's school
  • How to deal with having a gifted child and a non-gifted child

The list goes on and on. I attended one of these sessions and I was so appalled by the parents, that my husband and I vowed never to return.

There are morning and afternoon classes at the Center for Talent Development to give families options due to busy Saturday schedules. There was a parent whose child was in 1st grade and the parent wanted to know if she could enroll her child in two classes because he was gifted and he would appreciate the challenge. WTF!! We are talking about a 6-year old. This parent wanted her 6-year old to be in school on a Saturday from 9:00 - 2:30, in addition to attending school Monday thru Friday.

I would never put a 6-year old in school on a Saturday unless it was for religious reasons. A 6-year old is still getting used to going to school. I realize that parents want to expose their children to different things but there is a time and place for everything. This parent just wanted bragging rights. She wanted to be able to tell her friends and anyone else who would listen, that her child was taking two classes in a gifted program. Another parent was pushing her crying 5-year old into her classroom, while the teacher pulled the child into the room. This child didn't want to go to the class and the teacher and the mother were literally forcing the child. It's sad that neither of the adults realized that maybe this 5-year old wasn't ready for an additional day of school.

I knew someone who was looking for a new school for her children. When I recommended my children's school, she said that she was looking for a school that was more challenging because her daughter's test scores were in the 90's. I found that fascinating because my children's scores were higher than her daughter's scores. Here was one of those situations where someone thinks that their child is smarter than another child.

The bottom line is, even though you may think that your child is gifted and completely brilliant, there is someone who is more gifted and brilliant so take it down a notch. Parents want to think that they are doing a good job raising their children. Some feel as though the intelligence of their child validates their parenting skills. It doesn't because some stupid parents have really smart kids and some smart parents have average kids. Stop making your child think that he/she is better than they actually are. Stop sending the message to your child that they are better than someone else. If parents continue to tell their children that they are gifted, because they want bragging rights, how will they ever learn humility?

When reality sets in and it will, your child will be devastated. There are many college freshmen who get their first reality check when they are placed in remedial classes after graduating in the top of their high school class. There is nothing wrong with praising and encouraging your child. However, you are setting your child up for disappointment when you put them on a pedestal. Parents, be proud of your child's accomplishments but always encourage continued growth.

Everyone is good a something. We all have a special talent.  Very few people are good at everything and that's why the term "gifted" should be reserved for the few who are truly "gifted".

Thanks for reading!

I am planning to write a blog about creative discipline. Please send me your creative discipline tactics that you have used with your kids. goodandbadparents@gmail.com

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