Nurturing Your Gifted Child-

Tips for Parents

The gifted child is still a child, no matter what his talent. That child needs to run and play and laugh and daydream just as other children do. Nevertheless, rearing a gifted child is a challenge, but the task becomes less fearful when the parent knows the school is a helpful partner. If you have special concerns, call and share them with your child’s teacher.

  • Gifted children are still children. They need love but controls; attention but discipline; parental involvement, yet training in self-dependence and responsibility.
  • Find some positive characteristics in your child and emphasize these. Try to mention the good things 10 times as often as the bad. Gifted children are very sensitive.
  • Don’t compare your gifted child with other children. That places on the gifted one the responsibility to live up to that image all the time. All children are unique and special in their own ways.
  • Listen to your gifted child. Dinner may be about to burn, and the telephone is ringing, but listen because the question may be important. If ignored, the curiosity to ask may disappear.
  • Praise your gifted child for his efforts. Praise him for the wonderful things he does, and, if his great experiment does not work out as hoped, praise him for trying. Inquiring minds must take intellectual risks, and risk-taking needs to be encouraged and supported. Emphasize what your child has learned, even if he or she made mistakes. If your child brings home a low grade on a paper, look first at the good points.
  • Help them with their study skills. Help them plan not only their schoolwork but also their own projects and responsibilities at home and in the community.
  • Be aware of your child’s areas of intense interest and build on these. Let the gifted child specialize early if that is his wish. There are fringe benefits to living with dinosaurs; they may be learning to do research, knowing how to keep notes and records, and discovering the Dewey Decimal System together with Tyrannosaurus Rex.
  • Encourage originality. Help them to do their thing and praise them for producing “the only one in the whole world”. Develop pride in original and creative work.
  • Be aware of times your child is trying to manipulate you. Gifted children are often very good at this. Stand your ground. Discipline is necessary for harmonious family life and comes in the same shape for all sisters and brothers. Giftedness is not an excuse for unacceptable behavior. Whenever possible talk things out with him where there has been a disciplinary lapse. He is much more amenable to rational argument than are many children and usually has a well-developed sense of duty.
  • The role of good books, magazines, and other aids to home learning such as encyclopedias, charts, and collections should be stressed within the home.
  • Take the initiative in taking your child to museums, art galleries, educational institutions, and other historical places where collections of various sorts may enhance background learning.
  • Children don’t have to be gainfully employed every waking minute. There should be time to day dream, to be silly, to watch T.V., read comics, and to lie on an unmade bed to contemplate the ceiling. Gifted children are usually creative children and it is difficult to be creative on a tight schedule. Don’t overload your child with activities. Choose to omit some activities so the family has time to be together. Remember, children need their sleep in order to be alert in school the next day. If they are up too late, their class work and attitude towards school will suffer.
  • Respect the child and his knowledge, which at times may be better than your own. Assume he means to do right and the deviations are not intentional. Do not presume on your authority as a parent except in a crisis. Allow much liberty on unimportant matters.
  • Avoid the role of rescuer. Let your child experience the consequences of forgetting a note, homework or lunch money.
  • Remember the fine line between encouraging and pushing may make the difference between a happy and productive youngster and an unfulfilled, underachieving child.
  • Gifted children are sometimes impatient of conventions. Have a frank talk about the importance of conventions such as driving on the right where he can see the social advantages, and then point out that other conventions of politeness, manners courtesy, and respect for others have similar bases in experiences.
  • Gifted children often have acute awareness of adult problems such as sex, death, sickness, finances, war, future which their lack of experience makes them unable to solve. They may need reassurance in these areas.
  • Enjoy your gifted child. Of all the problems children have, giftedness is surely the best one. Gifted children are curious, enthusiastic, excited about new things, and able to communicate early. Take vitamins for stamina and enjoy them. Tell your child often, how much you appreciate him or her. They need your acceptance and appreciation, as well as academic challenges, in order to excel. All children need acceptance, appreciation and a sense of accomplishment.

(Based on a set of criteria developed by Gina Ginsberg, Gifted Child Society, Inc. Printed in “North Dakota Handbook: Guide VI Education of Gifted Talented Students”.)