There is some debate in the education community as to whether or not you should tell gifted children that they are “gifted” or not. To me, this debate is utterly ridiculous. Truly gifted children will already know that they are different. I can’t understand knowing the name or explanation for their difference offering anything but relief. To think about it in another way, would you ever consider not telling a child with diagnosed allergies, “By the way, the reason you are sneezing so much is that you are allergic to dust,” or would you just let that kid sneeze for the rest of his childhood without knowing that there was a name for his condition?
One of the best vehicles I’ve seen to start a conversation with gifted children about their differences is the 2007 Disney/Pixar movie Ratatouille. In this movie Remy is clearly different from all of his rat friends and family. His sense of smell is so acute that he can detect rat poison. He feels more comfortable walking upright, rather than on all fours. Leading and ordinary rat life depresses him because he thrives on challenge, stimulating conversation, and activity. To put it bluntly, Remy is Highly Gifted. If you gave him the WISR, the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Rats, he’d score a 146 or above no problem. (I just made that part about the WISR up, btw.)
As a gifted rat, Remy has different social and emotional needs than his peers in the rat community. Leading and ordinary rat life depresses him because he thrives on challenge, stimulating conversation and activity. Intellectually, Remy fits in much better with humans with whom he shares equal curiosity levels about food, flavors and creativity. But socially of course, he does belong in the human world at all. This is very reminiscent of how gifted children so often relate better to adults than to their age level peers. Just like Remy, gifted children have the raw talent, but not the skills, expertise, education and experience that adult humans have. Like Remy, gifted children are constantly navigating the rat world and the adult human world, trying to forge a path that works.
So if you are the parent of a gifted child who ever happens to go through some tough social situations, try checking out “Ratatouille” from the library. It will be a good jumping off point for lots of different conversations you can have with your son or daughter.