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Joel McIntosh

Joel McIntosh
I'm the publisher at Prufrock Press. I've been involved with education for more than 20 years and hold a masters degree in gifted education. I've been a classroom teacher and a parent (still am that). In addition to this blog, you can follow me on Twitter. Feel free to contact me by e-mail if you have any questions about this blog or Prufrock Press.

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2 Ways of Looking at Traits of Gifted Children

Wednesday, May 11, 2005 - by CFertig - Category: Parents and Educators
 
One evening, I was talking to a Frank, surgeon friend of mine. I knew that he had been having some problems with his family.
 
“They get upset with me,” he said, “because I like things done a certain way. Also, when I ask that something be done, I expect it to be done immediately.”
 
When Frank makes decisions, he sees no reason why everyone shouldn’t agree that his decisions are correct. When things don’t go as he expects, he lets his wife and kids know about it.
 
“I realize that I may do and say things that irritate other people,” he continued, “but when I’m in surgery, I have to make snap decisions and I need for things to be done well and done quickly. Those characteristics are essential for me there.”
 
Frank is right. The ability to make decisions, to give commands, and have everyone jump to his beckoning is vital in the operating room. It does not, however, work so well in the home environment.
 
Maria is a voracious reader. Given her choice, she will read from the time she wakes up in the morning until she goes to bed at night. While pleased that she is able to read many grade levels above her peers, her parents are still concerned that she seems to have no other interests. She does not socially interact much with friends or family. She is not interested in sports or musical instruments or hobbies or even watching TV. Sometimes, it is difficult to get her to stop reading and come to the dinner table.
 
Dakota, an eighth grader, is very creative. He constantly finds new uses for ordinary objects and has a vivid imagination. Those sound like great qualities, but they often cause him problems in school. When he gets bored in class, he draws cartoons. The problem is that these cartoons can be very irreverent portrayals of his teachers. Recently, when his math teacher discovered his drawings, Peter was immediately sent to the dean for discipline.
 
Sometimes the same traits that are good in one situation are considered negative in another situation. We call these concomitant characteristics. Think about people you know—both adults and children. Do any of these people have traits that work to their advantage and to their disadvantage? Think about yourself. Is this true for you as well? Once you are aware of this anomaly, you may better understand the positive sides of characteristics that you previously thought were negative.
 
What about the person who talks your ear off? Perhaps that person would be a good public speaker. Think of the student who is the class clown. Could that person grow up to become the next best stand-up comedian? What about the child who is always asking questions and never seems to be satisfied with the answers? Will she take her questioning into the world of science and discover great things? If you look at people with this in mind, can you become a more tolerant individual? Will it help you to steer your child in directions where that potentially negative gifted characteristic might be used in a more positive environment?
 
We should never make excuses for a youngster’s poor behavior, but we can try to help the child by understanding some of the gifted social/emotional stresses that he may experience with these characteristics that can be both good and problematic.
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