Do all gifted children reach their potential? Do they know what it means to fail and keep trying? Do they put themselves in situations to push their abilities? Often the answer to all these questions is a definitive “NO”. What can we do as parents to help?
Reaching their potential can be difficult for gifted children- either because the environment does not encourage or force them to the limits. Sometimes they are scared of failure and will do “just enough” to still remain at the top but are at a comfortable level for their abilities. As parents, the easiest way is to demonstrate failure. I know this might sound crazy and it can be difficult because normally adults have the coping skills to deal with failure. For example, if we turn down the wrong street while driving, you can verbalize your mistake your child and recognize how you dealt with the mistake. If you make a new recipe and it is terrible, you can talk with your child about how you were willing to try something new and it didn’t work. Point out how it a learning moment and you won’t make it again.
Unfortunately they often do not have the coping skills for when they do fail. I NEVER want to set my children up for failure but it can be a good skill to understand how to cope. For example, we recently went to a bike park and it was all new for our family. My husband and I modeled to the children (not in a formal way) how we felt to try something new and what would happen if we failed. There was a few moments of falling off bikes or ramps and we would make a quick conversation about picking yourself up and you had to keep working at it to get better. Our youngest learned how to ride on the ramps quicker (much to the dismay of the oldest) but it provided an opportunity to talk to the oldest about how to keep working on it and get comfortable. He wanted to give up a few times and we encouraged him to keep at it.
Here is another great article about gifted kids and the importance of failure and learning how to work towards goals.