Sunday, January 19, 2014

Parenting an Underachiever? Can You Say Heartache?

Photo source: Morgue File

I didn't learn about what it means to be gifted until fairly late in the game. Looking back, it’s amazing that I survived at all. The condescending calls from teachers, the homework battles, parenting books filled with advice that NEVER worked, watching my child descend into despair … all the while feeling SO ALONE.

Hindsight may be 20 – 20, but in my case, it’s difficult to see that things could have been any different. With one possible exception … knowing what the heck was going on! Blogs were non-existent when I started my journey as a parent.

The advent of blogs for parents of gifted kids is a relatively new occurrence. How I wish this was not true. I must admit a bit of envy ~ yes ENVY for parents today. I read blogs every day and seek out blogs pertaining to gifted parenting. Some have excellent advice; some not.

The point is … if you are parenting an underachiever, you certainly are not ALONE. You know the old saying, “Misery loves company”? Well, it sure can feel like misery when your child is underachieving and NO ONE seems to know what to do or how to help. TOO MANY people seemingly love to point fingers and place blame; but how does that help you and your child?

The simple answer is that it doesn't help. So, what can help? Learning about and understanding that underachievement is a growing phenomenon and something that is best dealt with when recognized early. Although it’s never too late to address this issue, it easier to do while your child is young and not sinking into the abyss.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. When your child is identified as gifted, DO NOT take it for granted. Advocate from day one. Advocate for an appropriate, individualized education program. Find out what is already available; then research programs to enhance those offerings. Appreciate the benefits of technology in the gifted classroom. Explore all your options.

Finally, you may have to accept that this is one situation beyond your control and things may not turn out as you had planned or even hoped for; life is like that sometimes. It’s not the end of the world. Children grow up and life goes on. Love does survive.

Is that the end of the story? Not at all! You can make a difference in your child’s life. It’s not easy parenting a rebellious kid who is failing in school or who may have already dropped out. As the parent of a gifted child who is not living up to their potential, you must NEVER give up! If you don’t think you can handle it on your own, seek help. With your support, your child will make it! 

If you would like resources to help on the journey, please comment below and I will send you both online and offline resources. 




17 comments:

  1. My son was tested as gifted at 6 yrs old. He attended ODS for 2 years one day a week. This was the only time ever he enjoyed school and achieved anything! He is now 12, its been quite a journey. He has been bullied and anxious and underachieving for so long now its almost the norm. I took him out of school 3 years ago but now need him back in school for family reasons. Most days I despair, we go week to week only parttime at this stage, no homework, and he has college next year.

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  2. I would really appreciate resources. Thank you for this post! With him being in school now in first grade, I don't know how to tell anymore if he is underachieving or is now only "bright" as the school refers to him. I'm...confused. I read a lot and some things apply and sound like him, others don't.

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    1. Amy, please see my March 2014 post on underachievement for additional resources.
      http://goo.gl/OmdYMj

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  3. I would love any resources. I have a 6 yr old in K, she may be 2e but no observable LD's yet. Work usually causes her to rebel (sometimes screaming that she doesn't want to do it and crying). It is getting a little better at school but at home she will sometimes practice spelling words and other days she refuses to participate in the practice. She will play learning apps on the ipad so I try to work that in. she is in a Montessori and goes up to 1st grade for novel study and spelling -- does well with that but refuses to go for more because her BF in in her class. So sensitive and emotionally immature (delay to ~ 4 yr old) and social delay too (but getting better with group skills classes that I take her to when I can find them - not easy!)

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    1. Ali, please see my March 2014 post on underachievement.
      http://goo.gl/OmdYMj

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  4. Underachievement, IMO, is rampant in the gifted population. Even among seemingly successful students, many have never come close to reaching their potential because of never having been pushed or challenged. Most have to eventually sort it out at a later time and repair the damage. Thanks for this thoughtful post about a difficult dilemma.
    Gail Post/ www.giftedchallenges.com

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    1. Agreed, Gail. I believe this is due in part to the abysmal state of gifted education in our schools. How does one assess the effectiveness of a program which is so inadequate? Parents can never give up and neither can those who advocate for better gifted educational policy. Thank you for your always thoughtful blog posts and all you do on behalf of gifted children.

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    2. Thanks!
      Gail

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  5. For those requesting resources, please check back here in the comments section in a day or two as I am in the process of putting together a list of links to online resources as well as offline centers where you may find help as well.

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  6. Thank you for blogging about gifted children. Your article was included in the January Parenting Gifted Children Link up and Pin Party. http://www.pinterest.com/gruenerconsults/2014-parenting-gifted-children-pin-parties/

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    1. Thank you, but from Pinterest: "Whoops! We couldn't find that page."

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  7. Yes! This is what I need. My daughter is 10 and is not failing or dropping out at this time, but is procrastinating, is having trouble socially, and needs more than her school and her teacher can offer her. My finances don't allow me to pay for a lot of enrichment or intervention, and in any case it's so hard to find people who understand what she needs (a lot of the time I don't understand what she needs!).

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    1. Thanks for reading GPS. Please take time to review the archives and hopefully you'll find more helpful information. ~ Lisa

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  8. My son is 15 and a sophomore. He failed three core classes last semester, and doesn't seem to be too perturbed about it. Yesterday he had the chance to get credit by exam for his AP History class but blew it off to go to band sectionals instead. All his teachers say he knows his stuff but he just won't do the day to day work. He is now in the bottom 50% of his class.

    I am tearing my hair out because, even though I understand what is going on, I still don't understand what is going on! He wants to go to university and talks about it all the time but still that does not motivate him.to keep his grades up. I cannot afford private school or to homeschool because I have to work. I need all the help I can get and would appreciate the resources you mentioned.

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    1. Please see my March post on underachievement for more resources.
      http://goo.gl/OmdYMj

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  9. I'm interested in more resources on this topic. My child is in an all-day gifted program in school, but I still don't believe that pushes him to his full potential. He resists a lot of what I try to supplement at home.

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  10. Please see my post in March for additional resources. hth http://giftedparentingsupport.blogspot.com/2014/03/underachievement-alternate-course-of.html

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