In this post, I want to speak up for gifted children (not parents of gifted children). Many gifted children come through my centre. The issue is always the same. He/she is not maximising his/her potential. He/she can do better if he/she were motivated.
When I dig into the child's psyche, I find one huge obstacle to motivation (and therefore, Lifetime Achievement): The Fear of Failure. When the children are labelled "Gifted," 8 things happen.
(1) Parents feel proud.
(2) Grandparents feel proud.
(3) Siblings feel envy.
(4) Cousins feel envy.
(5) Aunts and uncles all feel envy.
(6) Parents' friends feel envy.
(7) Grandparents' friends feel envy.
(8) Complete strangers feel envy.
Of course, no one is going to tell you that they feel envious. Why would they embarrass themselves this way? On the surface, they are all going to congratulate you and tell you how happy they are for you. However, when your gifted child fails at something, or loses at something, this envy leaks out in comments like, "Huh? Gifted leh? How come you lost/failed?"
It is not too long before the gifted child feels the pressure to never fail/lose.
There are 2 ways to avoid losing/failing:
(1) To avoid anything that looks too hard.
(2) To actually win/succeed.
The Gifted Label is a heavy one for young ones to bear. It represents more work and harder work, less play. It represents pressure. Parents and grandparents get bragging rights. In the long run, these bragging rights are useless to the child. Whilst parents and grandparents bask in the prestige of the label, the child has to live up to it. That is a huge burden for a child to bear.
Thus it is that many a gifted child look at me with despondent and unhappy eyes, saying, "School is useless." The damage goes beyond a mere child's unhappiness. The label is so crushing that gifted kids avoid challenge. Come on. If you knew that people would point fingers at you and say, "Huh? You are gifted? How come you cannot do this?", you too would avoid challenge, no?
The irony is this: if the gifted child simply relaxes and enjoys learning, he would naturally take on challenge after challenge... and ace them. However, in avoiding challenge, he/she saves himself from failing, but also denies himself all the future spectacular successes built on the corpses of today's failures. See HERE.
The Son would not have gotten into Cambridge if he had not failed again and again and again.