“Humility is not a virtue that can manifest when one is bleeding with greatness.”
Every class has that one kid who blows the other kids out of the water with his intellectual prowess and academic skills. These kids are the apple of the teacher’s eyes, subject of envy for the other kids. It’s common to see them breeze through the syllabus when everyone else is on chapter one. At that age excelling in every academic and cultural activity without any effort might look cool on the outside, but the detriments manifest very late, and before it’s noticed it’s too late.
Suffering from Success
It’s very common for a gifted kid in school to hear “Bro you’re amazing”, “Bro do you take tuitions outside school”, “Bro how do you always keep scoring full marks in math”. These kinds of questions put the kid over the top. They usually are seen as silent or interrupting the teacher during lessons, blurting out answers before the calculations are done on the board, the school is pretty much a walk in the park for them, and everything which is difficult for fellow peers at that age comes easy for them. Youth and folly go hand in hand. But when this carries out for a long time, it burns them out. The notion of hard work and discipline was something they never needed as things came easy. The lack of a challenging or stimulating environment will discourage those gifted kids from maximizing their potential, and personally, I would like to say that it is not their fault, the system, particularly the academic system is designed to cater to the needs of the ordinary, not the extraordinary. Their needs and limits are completely different from the rest of the kids that age.
Consequences of Easy Success
As I previously stated, they never faced challenges which demanded them to work hard, so the discipline of working for things was never imbibed in them. But we know how life progresses, things get difficult as time progresses, and the kids who had things easy and were on top of their game start to see failure. Let’s take the same school performance as a standard, as complex topics are introduced at higher grades, they can’t wing it like they did it when they were in their lower grades, and the nature of discipline and effort is not ingrained in them now, and they start to experience series of failures. I’m sure we all have witnessed this, someone who excelled when they were young is currently a shell of their former selves now. It is also witnessed in prodigy athletes, most athletes who were unchallenged in their teenage years don’t make it to the professional leagues, competition is the prima facie reason, but the other reason is they don’t see training as a necessity as they are the top of the game, but when they reach higher leagues, their lack of training will put them behind other athletes at that stage who have trained, they are very hard to coach, it is common for sports coaches to prefer those who are easily trainable compared to college prodigies.
Perils of Perfectionism
There are often overlooked consequences apart from failing grades or similar performances, gifted teens have a high probability of exhibiting perfectionism, when they are often met with peers at later ages who are better than them, they start feeling a sense of incompetence, they would have tied their worth to their academic prowess or a sport, and when a lot of people who are better than them appear, the sense of defeat coupled with their perfectionism yields a lot of negative results, we can see signs of depression, declining mental health, unwillingness to attend school, social withdrawal etc. Perfectionism is a very dangerous mindset to have as a growing child, this will prevent the child from learning new things, and the fear of not being good at a skill when they immediately start will discourage them from attempting new activities, this will later compound into adult years when they are unskilled in a lot of activities which will impact their quality of life.
Life Goes On
It is of paramount importance that “Failure is a part of life” be made common sense to children, and as for gifted kids, it is important for their parents to not weigh them down with heavy expectations. They should be made to understand the brilliance of their child is not permanent. Discipline is one quality which will go a long way in anyone’s life. Academic institutions regardless of place, their primary function is to educate the masses, odd ones out will definitely feel out of place, so educators must make sure their intellectual capability and curiosity are continuously challenged.
Gifted kids are not special children, they are children with special needs.