Parents get excited when they realize they have a gifted child but it comes with its own set of challenges as well. This is because a gifted child can get bored easily and require more intellectual stimulation as compared to their peers.
Parenting a gifted child can be a lonely experience so here are some ways for parents to support a gifted child and find their own parent support network:
1. Encourage them to do things they are bad at
While a gifted child seems to be able to do everything, they should also focus working on the things they are not so good at. This is so they get to experience failure and learn how to handle it at an earlier stage, instead of experiencing it when they enter university! It’s also a way for them to realize that they don’t have to be good at everything in order to enjoy the activities.
2. Don’t forget that they are still young kids
Most parents think if they have a gifted child that life will be easier but it actually takes as much as work too. For gifted children, they need to have some independence such as getting them a library card and letting them read what they like even if they read the twenty books on the same topic.
They also need time to take a break from working too hard because after all, they are still children. Their interests may also be different from their peers such as enjoying museum visits way more and may even ask if they can attend a talk that’s for higher level students.
In some cases, they may also need a tutor, not to help with their homework but to stretch their knowledge more than what’s taught in school or they’ll get bored.
Last but not least, a gifted child needs to mingle with similarly gifted peers so they feel understood and do not feel lonely. For this, joining a Young Mensa group should be considered. It doesn’t mean your gifted child should stop mingling with the other school peers but building some friendship with like-minded peers will give them some connection and feel less ‘stuck’ in school.
3. Don’t be shy to seek help and support
Other than finding the right support for your child, you need your own support network too. Parents with gifted children are highly likelier to understand your struggles and may be able to help you and the others.
4. Beware not to trap yourself into thinking they’ll be geniuses forever
Your gifted child could simply be experiencing an intellectual growth spurt and that doesn’t mean they’ll be academically outstanding all their lives. This means while your child may be showing signs of being gifted, you shouldn’t start making assumptions about what it means for their future. They may be brilliant in school now but they may face different challenges in university.
To help support them, do make university plans with a good backup option just in case they don’t make the grades they thought they would. It’s also important to ask and listen to what they want to do.
5. Provide intellectual challenges
Just like anyone of us, gifted children can become complacent or start coasting when they can accomplish tasks well with minimal effort. There are several ways to provide stimulating activities for your child other than giving higher level work such as learning a new language.
However, be careful not to schedule in too many classes. Gifted children are still children so they need the opportunity to be kids too and enjoy free time, leisure activities and games.
6. Avoid comparisons!
Gifted children know they are smarter than their peers so there’s no point in hiding the fact from them. However, parents should watch out if they start labelling themselves as the smart one and label others with something lesser. Parents themselves should also try to avoid comparing siblings against each other so your other kids do not feel inferior and the gifted one doesn’t develop a superiority complex.
7. Be open-minded about their choice of friends
A gifted child may be brilliant intellectually but their emotional maturity is more in line with their age, which is why it’s understandable why parents are worried if their child mixes better with the older kids than their peers.
In this case, parents should be open-minded about the friends the child mingles with but should also treat their gifted child just like any other kid. Gifted children should also be taught to be aware of their surroundings so they do not get duped by unsavoury characters. It is not to cause alarm and fear but to help them be street smart, just like any other parent would do for their kids.
8. Be honest with them about their abilities and weaknesses
A gifted child may face fewer rejections and failures so it’s important to talk to them and remind them that there are some things they have to work hard for just like anyone else.
You don’t want them to face a shock when they are passed over in an interview for someone who is less intelligent but are more skilled in other areas. Skills such as charisma, humility, socializing and business acumen are some of the important skills to build too other than being intelligent.