It is easy to have unrealistic expectations of gifted children as either a parent or a teacher, and, oftentimes, these expectations lead to frustration, tension, and even fighting between the authority and the child. Hopefully, shining light on some of the most common issues will help the gifted child not get so stressed trying to live up to everyone’s expectations, not becoming an underachiever while rebelling against authority, and bring more peace into the child’s home and classroom.
One common unrealistic expectation that many parents and teachers have is that a gifted child should take all advanced/honors classes. This is simply not the case. A person can be gifted in spatial relations but not english, or they can be gifted in science but not history. It depends on the child’s aptitude in a given course and his/her interest in the course material. It is normal for a gifted child to take a variety of classes and not all of them be honors or advanced placement. There is no reason to stress out a child by placing them in courses that, although they can figure it out, will have to struggle with and even begin to disdain. Allow them the opportunity to enjoy learning so they will not begin to get a negative mindset toward school or even their ability to understand things. Many gifted and talented children begin to lose their self-efficacy in various school classes because of just one bad experience in a classroom.
A second very common unrealistic expectation is that gifted and talented children can take care of themselves. Parents and teachers, without realizing it, often neglect the gifted child and focus more on the “children that really need their help.” Just because a gifted child may not be struggling with his/her homework as much as other children does not mean that he or she is not struggling with being included or accepted by his/her peers. Gifted children may be able to carry-on a conversation with an adult, but that does not reflect emotional maturity. What an adult would know as a teasing remark due to life experience, a gifted child may actually take that comment to heart and get his/her feelings hurt. An adult understands the “rules of engagement” in society but gifted children do not. They do not understand when to speak and when to be quiet about certain topics. Even though gifted children oftentimes come across as little adults, they are still very much (especially socially and emotionally) children.