Never Reaching True Potential with Gifted Children

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? IMG_5094

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.


Mistakes are Important


As I mentioned yesterday, I am a big believer in mistakes as part of the learning process. I might not be great at accepting my own mistakes but I think it is so important for students to learn. Maybe it is understanding my own perfectionism and how it hinders me at times? Maybe it is working with children for several years in a row and helping them learn how to be appreciative of mistakes as a great chance to learn? Not sure but I always worked hard on the emotional piece of making mistakes in the classroom.

Here is another great article about how struggling helps us learn.

Kids NEED To Learn To Make Mistakes


LOVE mistakes as a teacher. It is so important for kids to learn that it is natural part of learning and it WILL happen.

I might sound like a bad or mean teacher but I always highlighted mistakes in my classroom- mine and students’. I think it is an integral part of the learning process and one that is often not taught. I would also point out my mistakes and have the students analyze how and why I made it.

Sometimes I would ask the students if I could use them as an example of making a mistake. In the beginning of the year the students would balk or start to get upset about this- especially the perfectionists. It would provide the perfect opportunity for students to learn that EVERYONE makes mistakes and it was fine. We would talk about how it didn’t make the person better/worse/smarter/ or dumber. We would always recognize the bravery of the person and letting us look at their work and to talk about it.

For gifted students, this was vital. They realized they didn’t have to be perfect, they didn’t have to always be right or have all the answers. It also helped them become comfortable with coming to ask questions and realize I was going to judge or think of them any different.

I love this article posted on Edutopia and how it highlights embracing mistakes. Highly recommend it.

Perfectionism again…


I promise this is a topic you will hear about again…

It not only interests me when work with gifted children but those that close to me know that I am a horrible perfectionist. It is something I have struggled with all my life. I am beginning to understand it better now that I am an adult and researching this trait.

This blog is helping me too- I have had to realize that being imperfect is going to happen and people will still like me (or at least they say they do).

A few imperfect things I have done the past two weeks:

1. Misspelled a word on my business card (after I handed out about 100!)

2. Not been able to get the bullets to line up “just right” in a blog post

3. After posting great information to about 300 people, I realized a hyperlink didn’t work

4. In tomorrow’s post, I COULD NOT get the font to all be same size

5. A safe bet would be that I have misspelled at least one word

In the whole scheme of life these are NOT big events. My point is that sometimes perfectionists get caught up in the small failures instead of looking at the big picture.  I am realizing that if I learn from my mistakes, laugh about them, and move on… I do get better with my adventures. Hopefully I don’t lose people along the way!

A website of tips for parents of gifted children that have perfectionism:

Learning Curve and Being an Adult Perfectionist

With everything in life, there is a learning curve. As I have been doing research on gifted children the past few years, one characteristic comes up quite a bit- perfectionism. I think I am going to self-diagnose myself with this problem and come clean. I am a perfectionist (if you have worked with me or been in class with me, I am so sorry. I bet I was annoying) and I am admitting it. So starting a blog is one way I am working to deal with my problem. I can’t be perfect in this adventure (and it is ok, it is ok, it is ok…) but I am trying. One step at a time, right?! I am sure if you follow this blog, you  might be annoyed as I change colors or layouts trying to find the “right” one for me.

By the way, here is a great article for any other adult perfectionists. I will continue to write on this topic because it is a very personal subject for me.

My personal favorite is this one:

Looking at the big picture
Adults with perfectionism tend to get bogged down in details and spend a lot of
time worrying about ”the little things” (e.g., what font to use in an email). One
helpful strategy to worry less about details is to ask yourself the following
1. Does it really matter?
2. What is the worst that could happen?
3. If the worst does happen, can I survive it?
4. Will this still matter tomorrow? How about next week? Next year?

Here are a few more tips that I really don’t know if I could do! (My attempt today and working through the perfectionism- I could not figure out why the layout is messed up in my blog post but I am going to let it go…)

Here are some examples to help you brainstorm items for exposure practice:

  • Show up for an appointment 15 minutes late
  • Leave a visible area in the house a little messy
    Tell people when you are tired (or other feelings that you consider it a weakness to have)
  • Wear a piece of clothing that has a visible stain on it
  • Purposely allow several uncomfortable silences to occur during lunch with a co-worker
    Purposely be a few cents short for bus fare
  • Lose your train of thought during a presentation
  • Send a letter or e-mail that includes a few mistakes
    Talk at a meeting without first rehearsing what you are going to say in your head
    Try a new restaurant without first researching how good it is


Picture from: