Parenting Gifted Children to Succeed in Life
Parenting gifted children is about much more than helping them pursue academic and intellectual excellence. You’ll nurture them for overall success in life. You’ll encourage their unique gifts and talents while cultivating social and emotional development that are common difficulties for gifted kids. Parenting gifted children to succeed is uniquely challenging because of their exceptional nature.
Giftedness is having a unique ability that is substantially above the average for the child’s age. Someone can be gifted in different ways, such as:
- General intellect
- Specific academic areas (often science, math, or language arts)
- Creativity (Art, Music, Writing, Theatre)
With these aptitudes and abilities come challenges. Gifted children frequently face social deficits and emotional struggles. Gifted kids often have asynchronous development, a pattern of development that is uneven. While they excel in their area of talent, they often lag in other areas. A child might be gifted in language, for example, but not in math. Or they might have advanced intellectual skills but are developmentally behind physically or socially.
Parenting gifted children is indeed taxing. You can develop the parental skills you need to parent your own gifted child for success in life.
Parenting Gifted Children for Success
Parenting gifted children for success means knowing the characteristics of gifted children. To be gifted looks different for each child; however, there are certain traits and characteristics that a gifted child tends to possess. Recognizing these traits can help you meet your child’s unique needs:
- High energy
- Sophisticated sense of humor
- Accelerated reading skills
- Extensive vocabulary
- Excellent memory
- Long attention span
- Ability to make connections and see relationships
- Flexible thinking
- A tendency to question almost everything
- Fast learners
- Enjoy discussions about topics they find interesting
- Preoccupation with fairness and justice
- Emotional and physical sensitivity
- Asynchronistic development
- Intense sensitivity
By knowing the characteristics of your gifted child, you can parent in a way that meets their needs and thus helps them thrive.
Parenting Gifted Children for Success in Life
Raising a gifted child is often about balance. Balancing their unique needs related to their giftedness with their developmental needs is a challenge. Because you know your own child and their personalities, interests, and how they’re developing, with patience and practice you can determine the best balance for your child and your family.
Balance in multiple areas will help your child embrace and pursue their gifts while feeling valued for reasons that have nothing to do with gifts and talents.
- Create balance between intellectual nurturing and nurturing whole-body health. Provide plenty of opportunities for stimulation, exploration, and development of gifts and talents. Also, support your child’s social, emotional, and physical growth. Connect and interact with your kids in these areas and more. Nourish your child’s mind and body with stimulation, nutrition, and mental health activities to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression—conditions that gifted kids can develop.
- Find a balance between pushing and protecting. Often, parents are excited by what their gifted child can do. Proud, they want to help their child be the best they can be, so they push their child to do more, be more, excel faster. Other times, parents want to let their kids be kids and not put undue pressure on them, so they protect them from outside burdens and stress. Finding a balance between these extremes is essential to your child’s life success. Foster interests. Encourage exploration. Help the child cultivate their gifts and talents, but also let them develop other parts of themselves, too. Instead of pushing or protecting, think in terms of nurturing. When you nurture your gifted child, you listen, ask questions, take them to libraries, museums, and other areas of interests. Encourage without pushing.
- When disciplining, balance your expectations created by your child’s intellectual capacity with your knowledge about their age and emotional level. It can be tempting to try to reason with a gifted child. Sometimes, this works and is welcomed by your child. Other times, because a gifted kid is still a kid, rationalizing and laying down consequences is met with confusion, anger, crying, resistance, and more. Try using discipline that motivates positive action rather than stops negative actions. Use praise, natural consequences, and positive reinforcement for effort (not just results). How to discipline a gifted child involves remembering that discipline means teaching your kids the skill sets they need for success, and it’s also about building and maintaining positive parent-child relationships.
- Encourage your child to be themselves while helping them learn to fit in with peers. This is a delicate balancing act. Remember that all kids, including gifted ones, need to develop a strong sense of self that involves knowing and embracing who they are independent of others. Kids need to balance this while forming meaningful connections with peers to feel acceptance and belonging. Cultivate your child’s independence by letting them explore, create, debate with you, and generally develop their talents and interests while arranging opportunities for your child to play with kids their age.
Parenting gifted children to succeed in life means considering the characteristics of these gifted children, creating opportunities to spend quality time together—sometimes exploring interests relating to gifts and talents but other times just playing. These kids are highly intelligent and talented, but they are not small adults. Stimulate them, accept all aspects of them, and help them explore how they want to use their gifts as they grow up.
Peterson, T. (2019, July 7). Parenting Gifted Children to Succeed in Life, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, February 20 from https://www.healthyplace.com/parenting/parenting-skills-strategies/parenting-gifted-children-to-succeed-in-life