10 Helpful Tips for Parents of Gifted Children
By Amanda Lane
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!!