If giftedness is not carefully nurtured it may not blossom. Failing to identify and support children’s gifts can limit their access to future careers in scientific, artistic, or other academic pursuits that could give them great joy. Discovering and developing gifted children is not only critical for them, but also vital for society.
Identification is also hampered when children with unusually profound talents or cognitive abilities also have unconventional ways of cognitive processing of information. When children with learning disabilities such as dyslexia or dyscalculia, attention disorders, and those who are English language learners, or are from low socio-economic groups, are not recognized and encouraged for their giftedness, the loss to society is profound. If a child who is extraordinarily gifted in math or spatial concepts is not identified, encouraged, and given the support needed to build motivation and perseverance, the loss of a scientific discovery that saves lives or an architectural breakthrough impacting environmental restoration can be profound.
The advanced cognition of some gifted children may even be overshadowed by what appears to be behavioral problems, but are in fact the brain’s reactive response to sustained or frequent boredom. Frequent boredom is a brain stressor that can shift cognitive processing away from the higher reflective prefrontal cortex down to the lower reactive brain. In that reactive brain state, in which other mammals are limited to fight/flight/freeze responses, children are similarly limited to reactions not in voluntary control. What appears to be acting out, “zoning out”, hyperactivity, disruptive behavior, or low effort may be a cue to see if unchallenging classes bore a gifted child.
If gift identification and interventions are missed in elementary school, the challenge becomes even greater to unwrap gifts in middle school. During adolescence, with its dramatic hormonal fluctuations and peer pressures, their brains have not yet developed full decision making capabilities based on logical rather than emotional responses. Middle school is a time when a child's choice to adapt and adjust to peer conformity, rather than pursue a course of proactive striving, can limit future opportunities.
Mentors can be your friends or associates with similar gifts as those your children possess. Mentors can share their recollections of feeling overwhelmed by restraints on their talent or cognitive creativity and encourage your children to extend their dreams and expand their goals.
When you increase the opportunities for your gifted children to become more comfortable embracing their gifts, you help them build the resilience and knowledge to take on our society's future needs and be tomorrow’s leaders, policymakers, and visionaries.