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’09 TAGT: Parent Perspective “Understanding Underachievement”

December 30, 2009

Comments by Amanda O’Neal

Motivation and Underachievement by Dr James Webb – A Few Key Points

Reading recommendations: Love Learning, Cradles of Eminence, and A Parents Guide to Gifted Children, Outliers

The only truly unmotivated child is one that is depressed. Otherwise, they just may be motivated towards their interest, not society’s.

Essential characteristics of gifted: above average ability, task committment, and creativity. All three areas are important. Don’t just focus on ability. Motivation is variable and the most influenceable.

Overexcitabilities can be misdiagnosed as ADHD.

Underachievement usually begins in the first few years of school. Indication of underachievement: Flashes if brilliance, but…off task, day dreaming.

Physical reasons for lack of motivation: vision problems, hearing problems, learning disabilities, social and emotional.

School reasons for lack of motivation: toxic classroom, educationally misplaced, insufficient attention to asynchronous development, poor study habits, task at hand doesn’t seem relevant.

Specific strategies:
-Assess possible reasons for apparent lack of motivation
-Start where the child is
-Try to transfer motivations and tie tasks into the child’s life
-Catch them doing something right and use successive successes
-Reward even the slightest movement in the right direction
-Create challenge
-Success must be frequent enough to maintain the new behavior
-Recognize accomplishments and encourage attempts

Frequency is more powerful than quantity. Reward often rather than big.

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