What Do You Do When You Have a Gifted Child?
Famous scientist Issac Newton did poorly in school but later turned out to be one of the most reputed scientists ever in the history of the world.
Do you think your child’s unusual interests at this young age like exceptionally adept at playing the piano, finishing Anna Karenina in a week or being faster than the speed of light at finishing the sums is an indication of his/her “giftedness”?
- Has a specific talent, such as artistic ability or an unusual ease with numbers. For example, kids who draw especially realistic pictures or who can manipulate numbers in their head may be gifted.
- Reaches developmental milestones well ahead of peers.
- Has advanced language development, such as an extensive vocabulary or the ability to speak in sentences much earlier than other children of the same age.
- Is relentlessly curious and never seems to stop asking questions.
- Is unusually active (though not hyperactive).
- Can concentrate on one task for long periods of time.
- Is passionate about his or her interests.
- Likes to be challenged by difficult activities.
- Has a vivid imagination. Gifted children often create a vast and intricate network of imaginary friends.
- Is able to memorize facts easily and can recall obscure information learned from television shows, movies, or books.
- Or any other qualities simply unique to his/her peerage
Now that you’re able to relate your child to one or more of the above parameters, what do you do next?
1. Don’t forget who’s the child and who’s the adult.
Children need to feel they are safe and protected. An adult who assumes that a gifted child can make his own decisions about the best schooling or activities for him, just because he’s gifted, is giving too much power to the child. This puts too much of a burden on the child and at the same time, undermines the authority of the adult.
2. Do provide intellectual challenge in and out of school.
Test anxiety, perfectionism, and fear of failure may all be associated with the early conditioning and lack of challenge in school. Give your child chances to be frustrated, to need to work hard and to take extra time to figure something out. Set up meaningful intellectual challenges during non-school times and during school times that significantly contribute to many facets of your child’s growth.
3. Don’t over-schedule your gifted child.
This is not the same as providing challenge. Give your child exposure to many different skills and activities that may uncover talent and passion in the child. Give your child the freedom and opportunity to make choices regarding clubs, activities, and extracurriculars. Give your child enough down time to process, read for fun, vegetate, and let ideas simmer. Don’t judge the value of your child’s choices during the free and down times (except for safety and health issues).
4. Don’t focus the challenge on either your child’s strengths or weaknesses.
Allow the child to really pursue her highest interests and abilities. Help the child recognize which skills and knowledge will be important for any normally functioning adult citizen.
5. Do give compliments to your child for his abilities and efforts.
Gifted children need recognition for their abilities from people whose opinions matter most to them just as much as anyone else. Try to be particularly aware of when your child really has put a great deal of effort or thought into something and needs encouragement or positive feedback. If the child has a talent area (art, music, games, anything), acknowledge it. Look for ways to help the child know himself.
6. Don’t compare.
Comparisons might make you child tone down his abilities so as not to feel freakish or disliked. Comparisons can put other children in an untenable, unfair position.
7. Do demonstrate how to prioritize, schedule, and let go.
Gifted individuals discover early that they have many interests and can sometimes they get over-involved and can’t decide how to lower their stress and their commitments. Even gifted people need down time and processing time, so they must learn how to pick and choose carefully in order to allow the time necessary for emotional growth and self-discovery. ”
Congratulations! You’ve a gifted child. Cherish this time.