10 Helpful Tips for Parents of Gifted Children

Posted November 5, 2012 by

It can be so great to have a gifted child, but it can also be a challenge.  Over the years, I’ve learned some things through trial and error as the parent of a gifted daughter. Parenting is the most difficult job in the world, so I’m hoping my insights may help you have a more peaceful experience with your gifted child. I’ve put together this list of 10 tips to help any other parents out there who may be struggling themselves.

1. From my experience, gifted children can be very quiet at times.  When they are quiet, try to leave them alone, if possible.  Let them have their space to “hyperfocus” on the computer, a book, an art project or activity that seems to have their complete attention.  Gifted kids can be completely absorbed to the point where they seem oblivious to the rest of the world, and it can be upsetting to them when they can’t finish.  Try to give them a 10 minute reminder before pulling them away from something.

2. From my experience, gifted children can be very talkative.  At these times, they want to tell you every single detail of a book or TV show that they recently read or watched.  They often seem to  want to talk when you are doing something else.  If possible, make a time to sit down with them and listen to a whole story.  Give them eye contact, make comments and ask questions.  At some point you may want to gently explain that most people do not want to hear every detail of books or shows.  Then give them tips on how to summarize.  I always say, “Less words, more content please.”

3. From my experience, gifted children tend to be more emotional.  It seems to me that their brains are supersensitive to characters in books and movies.  These children can feel exactly how someone in a book feels, almost becoming the character. They tend to overanalyze a movie and new scenarios run through their overactive brains.  I would recommend talking about the events of a movie prior to watching and let the child decide if it is something they are interested in viewing it.  Certain books or movies could cause them to lose sleep and worry.  I would definitelly recommend that refrain from watching the news with younger gifted kids.

4. From my experience, gifted children have a different way of organizing, but don’t rearrange their backpacks for them or clean their rooms.  They may be extremely disorganized in your opinion.  I would recommend finding a good time to sit down to “teach” them ways of organizing.  Give them suggestions, and offer items to help, but let them choose on their own.

5. From my experience, gifted children don’t always have common sense.  Sometimes you can give gifted child instructions that are too vague and they can’t seem to figure out what to do.   They are not purposefully disobeying.  Normally this is something like a chore: doing dishes, doing laundry, cleaning their room.  They can figure out a math problem so fast, but they can become befuddled with the simplest task.  Be patient and explain without sarcasm.  Sarcasm will upset them.

6. My daughter is generally energetic, happy, and helpful.  She becomes unhappy if something is not fair.  It may be the smallest thing, like how much ice cream she received as compared with her brother.  Try to make things fair for your gifted child from the beginning.  They don’t want extra, they want fair.   They may even get upset if they had more.   Don’t fight this one, just work with them to make it fair.  Be proactive, not reactive!

7. From my experience, gifted children can get very angry.  We all get angry and it is completely normal.  Help them develop strategies to release their anger in a safe manner.  Talk about how they can handle their anger appropriately in public and at school.  Let them know that you have strategies that work for you, and they need their own.  Let them know that sometimes, life isn’t fair.

8. From my experience, gifted children can be very empathetic but they may need help developing it.  If my daughter does something that hurts my feelings, I carefully explain why and how and then ask her, “How would you feel if….” I try to make the scenario relate to her.  Once she understands it can really help to deter selfish actions.  I believe gifted children need to understand the details to make better choices.

9. From my experience, gifted children work best alone.  They think ahead and plan how they are going to approach a project or activity. They get very frustrated when working in groups at school because other children may not understand a concept as quickly.  But it is important that they learn how to work in groups.  This must be taught to them because it does not seem to come naturally to them.  Tell them that other children have good ideas too, and it is important to share the work.  They will need to learn to be patient with their peers.  Don’t expect them to ever perfect this, but they can improve.

10. Last tip: This is similar to #1, but I feel it is so important.  From my experience, since gifted children often hyperfocus, they do not always hear you.  In my daughter’s case, I realized she was not being defiant. Even if your gifted child (who is not usually defiant) does not appear to be doing something, they could still be deep in thought.  You may need to gently touch their shoulder to get their attention or kindly ask them to repeat what you just asked them to do. They will really appreciate your kindness and understanding.

I love my gifted child!!

About

Parent Blogger Amanda Lane is the mother of an 11-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter. Amanda has been married for 16 years and works as a Clinical Systems Analyst in the hospital in her rural community. She hopes to give hope and confidence to others as she writes about her journey through parenthood.

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  1. Worriedmum11 Report

    Oh my gosh, you have just utterly described my 5 year old child, and in fact me during my school.years. Unfortunately I had an entirely miserable childhood as a result of displaying the behaviours decribed above and no one understanding. Instead I was continually and rentlessly punished at home and at school. Luckily it didn’t inhibit my progress in later life, in fact it motived me to suceed to prove them all wrong. However it has left me thinking of my childhood as a very dark time and by far the worst part of my life. I am now so scared as my 5 year old son seems to be experiencing some of the very same things. School sent him home for 1 week due to his scratching a child one day, then hitting another child the next day. They have been working with him for nearly a term now on his anger at school and not reaching him. So they have decided to effectively punish him by sending him home, as if this is going to help a 5 year old make better choices in the moment, and not just exacerbate the problem. I have tried to explain he is gifted – but I am not sure they get it. I desperately need help for him. My 5 year old.is getting labelled as something he is not and is on the road to being forced out of main stream school after only 2 terms. By the way its worth noting that I have a 7 year old girl at the same school who is just regular bright and she is doing so well and has won awards for her good behaviour and has zero anger issues. Please also note my son does not hit, bit etc at home!

    Reply
  2. Emendenhall Report

    Thank you for this. My adolted daughter is gifted and i have not been patient with her bc i thought she was being willfully defiant but i was wrong. She is apparently smart bc she makes straight A’s in school, now in 3rd. She just lacks common sense, managing tasks takes constant reminders, details must be given for sime tasks, no multitasking possible, very u norganized, and emotional. Now i feel better because I see tbat she is gifted. I love her and want to be the best mom for her. Thank you

    Reply
  3. aimeeintx Report

    My daughter is 8 years old and just started 3rd grade. She was the most well behaved child. I think she only had 3 temper tantrums in her life. Now we are butting heads. My husband and i call it talking back but now that I’ve been reading up on behaviors I’ve discovered that she’s lawyering us. My husband was a very smart child but more introverted and i was the wild adha child. She’s taking after me as she gets older. While i love that she’s strong willed and will plead her case we just want her to do what shes told and not argue. My father was abusive and i don’t want to go down that horrible road- it takes a lot for me not to hit her. I’m scared it will progress to that as my tolerance is getting shorter.
    If anyone can suggest a book in how we can try to stop the arguments and learn how to approach her in a way that will be less confrontational.
    Thanks in advance

    Reply
  4. Rodrigo Report

    Wow, you’ve described my 6 years old very accurately, without even knowing him. What drives me and wife nuts is that, while currently in kindergarten, he can read and write better than 3rd graders, solve math problems better than most 4th graders, but at the same time he seems to have an awful time learning very basic stuff that 3 years old kids master with easy, like how to close his jacket, how to tie his shoes, how take off his clothes, etc. He is 6, but he doesn’t even bother to pronounce the letter R properly, he even took his to a phonoaudiologist to fix it, but he’s still struggling. It’s like.. How is it possible that he is so advanced in some areas and so staggering underdeveloped in others. We are patient and loving, but your article helped us a great deal to understand him. Ceers

    Reply
  5. AprilQuinnAkiva Report

    Do you have any recommendations for dealing with school? My first grade daughter is very intelligent (read at 3 yrs, etc.) but hyper focuses a lot in school. She doesn’t hear the teachers directions and gets in trouble every day. She doesn’t hear instructions at home either unless I really catch her attention. I have learned to accept these traits but the problem is with the teacher. It is hurting her self esteem. Plus, won’t she need to learn how to manage her attentiveness as an adult?

    Reply
  6. lacey Report

    Thank you so much for this article. As I sit in tears I realize I have been approaching my son completely wrong. I often yell and then lecture him. I feel he is so smart why can he not do a task quickly or efficiently. I now see it is not his fault at all and I need to find other ways to help him. If he was adhd for example I would not yell at him for being hyper. These tips have helped so much! I love my gifted son so much I just wish he came with a manuel!

    Reply
  7. BusyMommy Report

    Hi,
    I came across your article because I am seeking advice. I have a 4.5 year old, who at 2.5 was assessed at a kindergarten level. It was suggested then, that we seek out a daycare and kindergarten that could accommodate his learning needs because when he gets bored he gets disruptive. He seems to have an ongoing issue with kids who are not functioning at his level. He gets angry and hits. However, when he is with kids that are at or near his level, he seems more relaxed and carefree. Most of the daycares in our area have a play based learning format. Today, his daycare teacher said she feels this does not work for him because he has already learned what preschool has to offer. They are looking for ways to keep him interested and out of trouble (today he slapped a poor girl for not giving him a ball.)  
    We have tried what you suggested about teaching alternatives for dealing with anger and some days are good, others not so good.  We are hoping to get him in to french immersion for kindergarten to help with his learning but I am really worried about his anger and ability to connect with peers from a variety of levels.  I asked him how we can help control his hitting, he suggested everyone else have fences around them so that he can not get to them. Just a few days ago he told me how proud he was of himself, he remembered my advice and was walking away when he was feeling angry.  What can I do to help him remember to not hit? Any breathing or silly visualizing techniques that may help him to laugh?

    Reply
    • BusyMommy Report

      If you are wondering why he was assessed at 2.5, he has a neurological condition that can cause developmental delays. Our pedi wanted to have him assessed as a part of her care and assessments to ensure his needs were being met.

      Reply
      • rwolfenden Report

        BusyMommy 
        Many parents struggle with effectively addressing situations
        where a young child is http://www.empoweringparents.com/How-to-Stop-Aggre… toward his peers and classmates, so you are not
        alone.  It does sound like your son has an advanced intellectual ability
        as compared to others his age.  It is also important to keep in mind that
        this does not mean that his emotional development has taken a similar advanced
        track.  It is pretty normal for most kids your son’s age to have a low
        frustration tolerance, and few coping skills to appropriately handle situations
        where he is frustrated, angry, upset or bored.  It sounds like you have
        been doing a lot of good work to help your son to develop more skills in this
        area, and I encourage you to continue doing so.  After all, repetition is
        key to learning and integrating new skills.  It’s also important to
        recognize and praise him when he is making appropriate choices (such as walking
        away instead of hitting) in order to encourage that behavior in the
        future.  Something many parents find helpful is using a http://www.empoweringparents.com/free-downloadable… to keep kids motivated, and also to track progress on learning more
        appropriate behavior.  Thank you for writing in; please be sure to check
        back and update us on how things are going for you and your family.  Take
        care.

        Reply
  8. Adriarango Report

    Great article thank you for sharing. I recived a call today form the school board to tell me that they found out that my son is gifted and he is in the top 1%. I identifed my son with most of the tips you listed. He gets very angry sometimes. Everything has to be fair. He is desorganized but can resolve math problems very easy. My concer is the anger, when he gets frustated he tried to hurt himself like pulling his hair, scratching his arms. I get worry about. Any tips on this. Now, should i sent him to the gifted school?

    Reply
    • Empowering Parents Coach drowden Report

      Adriarango
      It can be upsetting when your child responds to anger or
      frustration by hurting himself and it’s understandable you would be concerned.
      For the most part, when you have a child who responds to difficult situations
      with inappropriate behavior, it points to a lack of coping skills. One way you
      can help your son is by having problem solving conversations with him during
      calm times, as Sara Bean discusses in her article, http://www.empoweringparents.com/the-surprising-re…. For example, you might sit down with your son and ask
      him what he’s trying to do when he tries to hurt himself this way. You can then suggest more appropriate ways he may be able
      to deal with his anger, such as doing some deep breathing exercises or an activity
      that calms him down. It may be helpful to enlist the help of local
      resources, such as a counselor or therapist. Having someone who is well versed
      in the challenges a gifted child may face and is also able to work directly
      with your son could be of great benefit. It may even be possible for your son’s
      school counselor to meet with him and talk with him about effective coping
      skills. As for whether or not you should send your son to the gifted school,
      that is a decision only a parent can make. You know your son better than anyone
      else and would be in the best position to determine which placement would be
      best for him. I am sure school personnel would be able to answer any questions
      you may have regarding the gifted program. In closing, if there is ever a
      situation where your son’s behavior causes you concern that he may cause harm
      to himself, it may be necessary to contact your local crisis response team. The
      211 Helpline would be able to give you information on crisis response as well
      as other community resources. You can reach the Helpline 24 hours a day by
      dialing 2-1-1 or by visiting them online at http://www.211ontario.ca/. We wish you and your son the best of luck moving
      forward. Take care.

      Reply
  9. Jane Report

    This is very interesting! I’m just curious about how to figure out your child’s talent and how do you help enhance it?

    Reply

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