In some ways, raising a gifted child comes with advantages. However, there are other things to watch for if you find yourself in this situation. Raising a gifted child brings its share of challenges to overcome. A gifted assessment can tell you about the opportunities and challenges to expect and help you prepare.
There are also some dos and don’ts that can help make the job easier for parents of a gifted child. Keep these tips in mind to help bring up your child and encourage them to employ and enjoy their talents.
Do offer praise
Children need encouragement to help propel them through life. A gifted child may have an easier time with studying, but they need praise as much as any other. Give praise when it’s due to encourage your child to do their best. Pay special attention to projects where your child focuses more of their time and attention. They put plenty of work into that activity, so give them plenty of praise in return. Giving enough encouragement is vital for a gifted child’s development. Your kids will appreciate positive feedback from you, especially when they’re doing well academically.
Do encourage them to leave their comfort zone
The usual advice is to encourage your kids to play to their strengths. Gifted children need your encouragement and support for things they’re good at, but remember to let them out of their comfort zone too. Give your kids a chance to try other activities at which they may excel. Use this as an opportunity to let them do something new and different.
Letting them spread their wings also puts them under less pressure and give them a chance to experience failure early in life. Learning how to deal with failures now can be a useful learning experience. It’s also an excellent chance for your kids to expand their horizons and learn to have fun at something where they may not be the best.
Do get help when you need it
Having a gifted child can be easier than having other special education needs, but there are still challenges. Look for help where you can get it if you need different perspectives when raising your child. Ask the school for extra support, or consult a teacher or tutor for more ideas. Getting help also includes getting a support network for yourself to get more useful information.
Look for parent resources that can provide support and advice for you. Join online forums with other parents of gifted children. It’s a good chance to swap tips and share your issues with similar families. There may also be in-person meetings where you can get help and support more directly. Keep an eye on your neighbourhood for any nearby resources that can help.
Do challenge them
When it comes to teaching your kids, it pays to give them tasks that can bring out the best in them. Gifted kids need stimulus like other children, and more interesting and challenging ones appropriate for their talents. Give your children more intellectually challenging tasks to accomplish to help them hone their skills. Find something that’s stimulating in different ways. For example, try teaching your little ones a new language they don’t teach in school. It’s a useful skill and one that can pose the right kind of challenge for them.
Do be honest and open
It’s good to be honest with your child, the more so if they’ve shown themselves to be gifted from a young age. Share what you know with your little one. They likely already know that they’re unusual, and it can do them good to tell them what it all means. Take the chance to talk about what this means for your child. It’s an excellent opportunity for you and them to get comfortable with their gifts and understand it. Talk about what opportunities their talents can give them, along with the limits.
It’s vital your little one learn confidence and humility to help them grow up happy and well-adjusted. Consider psychological counselling for your child to help them understand what their gifts mean for them.
Do give them plenty of resources
It’s usually good for gifted kids to have plenty of resources to work with to help them learn. Consider getting plenty of books and other reading material to give your kids more chances to read. There are plenty of online resources available that can keep your kids’ minds sharp. Tailor your available resources to your kids’ interests. For example, if they’re interested in art, buy paint, canvas, or clay for them to use when inspiration strikes. Your kids may need other ways to express themselves than studies, and it helps to have materials to use to help them do that.
Don’t overload their schedule
Sometimes, parents overload a gifted child’s schedule with hours of additional studies. They need time off to recharge and have fun, just like other kids. Give your kids enough free time to rest and have fun away from schoolwork. Overloading them with too much studying can ruin the experience of learning. Provide enough freedom, including the freedom to learn. Encourage your kids to learn independently instead of cramming more studying into the day. Independent learning provides better results than pushing them to learn what they “have to.”
Don’t forget who’s in charge
Your child may be talented above his peer group, but you’re still the adult. A little leeway is good for children but draw the line somewhere. As the adult, you’re running the show. Set boundaries and enforce the rules to keep control and remind your child who’s boss. Some measure of autonomy is good for fostering independence and empowerment. However, your kids are still kids, no matter how gifted they are.
Major decisions (like schooling and curfews) are too important to leave to your kids, no matter how gifted they might be. It’s still your responsibility to make big decisions when your child is too young and can’t handle them.
Don’t compare your kids
It’s normal for children to compare themselves to others, especially if they’re especially ahead of their peers. If they notice how different they are compared to the others, talk with them about it. Discourage your kids from making comparisons to other children, especially with siblings. Get on the issue quickly if you see it in your kids to prevent feelings of inferiority from the others, and superiority in the gifted one.
Don’t worry about them getting big-headed
Because your kids are so talented, one concern is preventing them from getting too vain about their abilities. Take the time to explain what your child’s talents mean for them. The intellectually gifted can usually understand how much they don’t know yet if it’s explained to them appropriately. Give your child a good background in what they can and can’t do to help keep them humble.
Parenting a gifted child is like raising any other child, just with a few more things to remember. Like any other child, it’s important to be encouraging and supportive, especially when you’re offering them more challenges. With the right care, your child can thrive and learn how to make the most of their talents.
York Region Psychological Services provides psychological counselling and treatment for a variety of disorders. Whether it’s depression, anxiety, or trauma, we’re ready to help. Speak with our qualified, caring therapists to begin addressing your problems. Give us a call at (416) 602-3230 to make an appointment and get on the road to recovery.