Gifted? Grrrr.....

It's the strangest thing. Even though something like 3% of children are supposedly "gifted," at least 3/4 of all of the parents I know have gifted children. It's a huge business these days. There are web sites by the bucket dedicated to nurturing these little geniuses and selling their parents 150 different flashing toys to make them even more brilliant. The parents get on bulletin boards and bemoan the fact that their toddlers are so bright that they need advice on how on earth to cope, all the while slipping in every brag they can think of.


This bothers me on so many levels! First off, ALL CHILDREN ARE GIFTED. All babies are born with the most incredible gifts of all sorts. There are a thousand different talents a child can have, and intelligence is just a bit of the picture. There are also a thousand types of intelligence. The fact remains, however, that every infant who opens his or her eyes to this world is overflowing with potential and brilliance, and labeling just some of them is doing a disservice to the rest.

Second of all, this whole business pits parents against each other. There is no contest here. The smartest child doesn't get a frozen turkey to take home. You can still be a good parent if your 8 month old isn't reciting the pledge of allegiance. Really. And you know what? If you rate yourself as a parent by how bright your child is or how early she can leap those hurdles, you're always in for a letdown because someone is going to have a child who spoke one day earlier and says one more word. You're also going to have a miserable child.

Which brings me to the third reason I hate this business. No infant, toddler or tike should be expected to have to live up to genius status at that young age. They have far more important things to do right now than secure that Harvard scholarship. I promise they can still learn even into two digit ages! Yes, maybe they can learn French, the violin and algebra easier if they start at 16 months than at ten, but at what cost?! Why is a fluent grasp of french more important than a fantastically HAPPY messy, plain old childhood?

I'm not advocating leaving our kids in the mud all day. Well, I advocate it some days because frankly they enjoy it and you can sit next to them and garden. I do certainly recommend filling your children's lives with the opportunities to learn and grow and create and become the very most they can be. Just never at the expense of their joy, or as part of some grand competition. Sure, give them instruments to bang around on and music to listen to. Definitely get them talking to Grandma in Spanish. Of course you can point out letters when you come across them on street signs on your evening walk. Just remember too that the greatest "gift" is being allowed to be a child.

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All works on this site Alicia Bayer unless otherwise noted.
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