When I was in school I remember the music teacher’s daughter used to play the Sitar very well. Since she had the talent in her genes and of course access to the right training she was adept at the instrument from an early age. I remember how she was called upon in almost every school function to give a performance. We all were in awe of her talent but I also remember how she didn’t have many friends. That was perhaps because she was never around during recreation time. She was always either practicing for something or performing somewhere. Not that that’s bad, in fact it’s fabulous, but was she really enjoying life? Isn’t play good for a child’s emotional health? For a child to be well rounded, the child must enjoy childhood things like playing and being with friends. Every child deserves a normal and diverse social life!
According to Judy Galbraith, Masters degree in guidance and counselling of the gifted, “Without even realising it, parents can sometimes overwhelm their gifted children and “create unintentional barriers.”
There are two aspects to raising a gifted child. One is to ensure that the child’s innate talent is developed and maximised. The other is to do it without pressurising the gifted child too much, or pressuring yourself too much for it may lead to emotional problems for both the parent and child.
Like any parent, the parents of gifted children also care about their child and want them to succeed. However at times they end up trying too much and the pressure to perform may lead to anxiety, depression and burnout.
I strongly feel that a talent should be honed, most definitely. A gifted child deserves to make best of his/her talent and that can happen if parents find a good teacher to develop the child’s talent, they encourage the child to participate and attend recitals or concerts so the child gains more exposure in the field, subscribe to resources to enhance the child’s talent, celebrate their child’s achievements, and motivate the child to set goals and do his/her best.
However sometimes parents of gifted children try too much. They end up setting the bar too high for the child and themselves that they go to immeasurable lengths to do ‘whatever it takes’ to help their child succeed. This pressure amounts to so much at times that even the most beloved gifted children feel overwhelmed.
The line between the do’s and don’t is a fine one! As a parent of a gifted child, question yourself – Are you giving too much attention to your child’s giftedness? Are you giving your child the impression that he/she is only loved because he/she is gifted?
All I would say, as a mother and an onlooker, enjoy your child. Your gifted child is still a child and should be a source of joy and happiness, independent of his/her talent. Do not focus too much on the future but appreciate your moments ‘here and now’.
Childhood happens only once – don’t let it go by too fast.