It is pretty easy to find a plethora of articles and books on parenting the average child, but there are few articles or books on how to parent a gifted child. You may think that this would not be necessary because gifted children by definition would be easy to parent; this is not necessarily so. Matter of fact gifted children are considered special needs children because they are often extremely emotional and because everything turns into a debate with them. This is extremely frustrating for most parents and results in the parent needing some special tricks to handle them. In this article I will discuss what it means for a child to be gifted and how parents can parent them to make life easier for them and the family in general.
A child is considered gifted if they meet one of the following criteria:
- Those who score extremely high on the standardized intelligence quiz. This would be either a score of 140+ on the Stanford-Binet or WISC-R test.
- Children with highly developed talents in specific areas
- They are a child prodigy in Music, Math or Chess.
- Those children with an IQ above 170+
So how do you know when you have a gifted child? Most children who are gifted will show advanced development in a number of areas such as speech, motor ability and similar functions. Most kids who are gifted talk and read at a much earlier age than other children. One gifted child that I read about was able to read and understand the newspaper at 4½ years old.
There will also be other indicators that may surprise you that indicate your child is gifted. These include a high sense of morality, hyperactivity and sensory issues; these indicators often result in the child being labeled as a learning disabled child. A gifted child usually excels in those areas they are interested in while they may still be average in the other areas they aren’t interested in. Furthermore many gifted children will experience learning disabilities such as dyslexia, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and ADHD.
You may be asking yourself at this point why it would be important for you to know that your child is gifted. It is important because most gifted kids also experience other characteristics mentioned above that may pose a problem for them. If they are dyslexic or experience OCD or ADHD it will be hard for them to cope without additional help. Many times these kids will “average” out in school. This means that their giftedness does not show because the challenges slow them down.
In addition, because of their increased sense of morality, they often times are depressed and find it difficult to face the challenges that adults face. They understand the concepts of freedom, justice and war but are unable to deal with the ramifications of these concepts. How you can, as parents, help your gifted child is an important issue to be discussed if your child is having problems or seems to be gifted. In the following paragraphs I will share some ideas that you as a parent can do to help you gifted child
Recognize Asynchronous Behavior. Children may be bright in one area and not others, this is called asynchronous because there are different expectations as to how they will perform in different areas. An example would be a child who is discussing the theory of relativity and then when he asks for a cookie throws a tantrum because his mother said no. Ways to deal with this are:
- Stop and recognize the child’s chronological age before you respond to the child
- Recognize that this type of behavior requires special needs for the child
- Recognize that they may need a different age group to interact with
Try and See Things From Your Child’s Perspective. Gifted children see themselves as small adults and do not understand why they are being treated like children. In order to understand where they are coming from, it is important that you treat these kids with respect. One of the main things that will upset these kids is treating them with disrespect.
Give Reasons/Don’t Debate. Many gifted children want to know why or given reasons as to why the rules and requests you ask of them are the way they are. If they need reasons or explanations supply them but don’t argue with them. If you ask them to do something and they ask you why, tell them and then tell them that there will be not more discussion. Gifted children are often excellent debaters and if you allow this to happen you will find yourself frustrated. It is important to let them know that they are still the child and that parents have the final say.
Provide Choices. Gifted children need to feel like they have some control over their life. Although you don’t want to give them choices that will affect the running of the household there is nothing wrong giving them choices that won’t upset the household. For example instead of choosing what your five year old will wear each day give them a choice between several outfits. For the older gifted child you may want to give them a choice as to what they take for lunch. Another example would be when you want them to clean out the garage. You could say something like: “Would you like to clean out the garage on Saturday or Sunday?” Giving them a little sense of control over their life will go a long way in making things run smoother.
Treat with Respect. It is important that you let the gifted child express their opinions on various issues. You do not have to agree with them but is paramount that you listen to them. Not listening is seen as very disrespectful by gifted kids and will only serve to cause further disruption by the child .