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Motivating Underachieving Gifted Children - Understanding the Basics

By Andrew Loh



Most gifted children are under achieving and they also lack motivation to do well in academics and classroom studies. Motivating such children could be a Herculean task both for the parents and teachers. However, parents may not like to sit idle and fail to motivate their gifted ones, obviously because it relates directly to professional and personal career of children. Parents may like to understand some simple and basic things to understand how motivation works in the case of gifted children.

What is underachievement?

It is a very difficult term to define as most of them technical and applying its broader meaning under a single context could be very difficult. Underachievement acts a fine thin line between two other terms – potential and achievement. Potential is a universal standard for detecting potential in a child by using standard IQ and other similar tests. On the other hand, achievement is something that could be reached by a child and it is usually linked to academic performance within a classroom setting.

Common traits of gifted children who are currently underachieving in their studies and classroom

Identifying similar traits in gifted children is always difficult. However, here are some broader characteristics that can be fund among gifted children who are under achieving.

  • Very low self esteem

  • Very low self-efficacy

  • Trying to be perfectionist

  • Failure to compete with others

  • Clear lack of motivation

However, lack of motivation seems to be the most serious problem that a gifted child faces in his or her life. Two reasons are likely to affect a gifted child's motivation to study and get grades. One, he or she may not be challenged enough in the classroom and second, they feel to get their curiosities satisfied early in the classroom. When these overpower gifted children, they may find daily classroom activities extremely boring and monotonous. In the end, they will start losing their motivation very slowly and over a period. Underachievement is a leaned and acquired behavior. In fact, gifted children are not born underachievers. The attribute of underachievement could be undone and unlearned with consistent efforts.

Is it possible to reverse signs and patterns of underachievement in gifted children? Yes, it is possible only when parents use the right type of technologies. Three types of strategies are available to reverse underachievement and make gifted children learn like normal children (Please see Whitmore's research on these three strategies):

Supportive Strategies

These strategies treat gifted children feel as if they belong to a family and a close-knit group instead of treating like just another roll number. Teaching and training both at home and classroom should be individualized and they should take care of the needs of gifted children too.

Intrinsic Strategies

Here, children's desire to learn and master should match the actual learning method. In other words, classroom should be positive enough to invite a gifted children learn all by self. He or she should also be able to self-evaluate the progress made academically.

Remedial Strategies

All children have their strengths and weaknesses including gifted children. They may also have different social, psychological and intellectual needs to grow and thrive. Teachers and parents should understand these factors without fail. Remedial strategies provide an opportunity for the gifted children to excel in the areas of their preference and choice.

Gifted children are emotionally quite different from others. They learn in their own specific way that is special to their mental needs. Although, teaching such children are quite difficult, parents could develop a sense of self induced motivation in them to master their classroom curriculum. Gifted children are known to feel negative and frustrated with their boring classroom and blackboard based curriculum. In other words, they might need an environment that is conducive to their likes and preferences. Underachievement in gifted children is not exactly lower academic performance. Rather, it is a disappointing performance. However, given enough opportunities and choices, a gifted child could also become an excellent classroom performer.

Available research on gifted children suggests these simple academic techniques to motivate them. One, understand their choices, likes and preferences and proceed to motivating them to improve them. Motivation relates to a psychological approach and parents would need to use positive techniques of motivation. Motivation is an approach that pulls up gifted children from their self-induced perimeter and later feeds positivity to drive out negativism and defiance behavior that usually comes with gifted children. In a way, motivating gifted children to achieve the best in academics is a psychological exercise that needs immense patience and tolerance. Continue to read Motivating Underachieving Gifted Children Tips.



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