Posted by gtchatmod
Most people are not aware that many gifted children at times hide their giftedness for various reasons. Although it can just be a phase as these kids enter the teen years and yearn to ‘fit in’ with age-peers, it often goes much deeper than that. It can become a life-long struggle. Sometimes gifted kids face ridicule about their abilities by classmates and it’s just easier to go into stealth mode. Lack of confidence and self-esteem can cause some gifted children to not believe they are gifted.
Early research focused on gifted girls as the ones who primarily hide their giftedness beginning in the pre-teen years. (Silverman, 2009). Further studies revealed that boys, too, will hide the fact that they are gifted in response to pressure from peers to excel in sports rather than academically. This happens most often in high school. (Betts/Neihart, 2010)
There are specific behaviors to look for if you suspect a gifted child may be hiding their gifts and talents. Adults should look for children who deny or discount obvious talent; often early dropping out of gifted programs or later from AP programs. They do not want to confront challenge. A child who is trying to hide their giftedness may suddenly change peer groups or appear to lack direction. (Betts/Neihart) They may disconnect from adults in their lives – teachers and parents.
Helping a gifted child to understand what being gifted is all about can help to counter their desire to fly under the radar and hide their giftedness. Adults need to talk to children that being gifted is not about being better than others, but simply different. They can be given opportunities to research what giftedness is on their own. Gifted children often respond to meeting and being mentored by gifted adults in their areas of interest.
Educators need to learn why a child might be hiding their giftedness and try to be understanding. They need to recognize ability and consider appropriate placement in advanced-level classes. School personnel need to provide counseling, diagnostic testing and propose alternative learning opportunities. Teachers can provide direct instruction on social skills for gifted students struggling in this area. School counselors can arrange support groups to discuss giftedness with students.
How can parents help their child when they hide their giftedness? Parents need to normalize the gifted experience; moderate praise; allow freedom to make life choices. They can encourage self-understanding and self-acceptance (Betts/Neihart) and provide opportunities for enrichment without offering extrinsic rewards or punishments. (Rivera) Parents need to learn about asynchronous development as social skills often lag behind academic achievement. They can teach social skills, but need to realize that the timing may not coincide with age-peers. A full transcript may be found at Storify.
Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented and sponsored by GiftedandTalented.com is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Fridays at 7E/6C/5M/4P in the U.S., Midnight in the UK and Saturdays 11 AM NZST/9 AM AEST to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.
About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime advocate for gifted children and also blogs at Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Revised Profiles of the Gifted & Talented (pdf) (2010)
Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.