Kids are stressed these days. I see it everywhere. High school, middle school, and even more and more elementary students are stressed, and it’s not because of a standardized test. Their stress is coming from something deeper then a test score. It’s a stress that makes them strive to meet certain societal standards so they can feel good about themselves. The more they chase after these standards, the more stressed out they get. If they meet a certain standard and then lose it (ex. being president of the student council and then not getting voted in for president the following year), then it just devastates them. It tells them that they’re a failure. They tried. They lost. Game over.
As the kids get older, this stress is more like a slow growing cancer of awareness that they have no idea who they are without their accomplishments. “I’m an honor student.” “I’m the captain of the swim team.” “I’m a member of the National Honor Society.” That’s great. Those are fantastic accomplishments, but I’m not asking you to list your accomplishments. I’m asking you, “who are you?” Silence. They don’t know. All they know is that they are striving to meet certain standards to feel good about themselves. Standards that most people never meet and if they do, they are not able to maintain that standard for very long before burn out hits.
These unrealistic standards be it physical, emotional, social, intellectual, or even sexual in nature destroy these kids’ self-confidence, self-worth, and eventually their ability to reach their true potential due to a significant fear of failure. The fear of failure will lead to these children displaying emotions of guilt, anger, resentment, jealousy, envy, perfectionism, and even isolation, just to name a few. It is fear based, and fear is never a good foundation for anyone, especially the gifted, to try to build a life upon.
It is crucial for parents, teachers, coaches, counselors, and any other child care-giver to learn to separate the child’s “do” from their “who.” I am never impressed with what a gifted child can do. Gifted children do amazing things all the time, that’s just their performance nature. So, their “do” is never something that really impresses me, because what I care about it “who” they are. What kind of person are they? What is the essence of their soul?
What we are able to accomplish should never define us. What should define us is who we are, and knowing who you are is what will intrinsically motivate the gifted child to become a success in life. It will give him/her the ability to jump back up when they get knocked down. Resilience. It will give them the ability to sustain the pressures of the human life without becoming codependent on drugs/alcohol/ or others. It will make them live a life of meaning and leave a legacy of inspiration for generations to come.
If you are interested in learning more about how to help your children overcome the negative pressures of society, peers, the media, etc…. and inspire them to accept who God created them to be, you may want to grab some friends and set a date to go through my workshop for parents, “Gifted 103: Trajectory Significance”