You might think that having a gifted child is just swell. You don’t have to help with them with homework, they get stuff easier, they will never fail a class. And yes, those things are true. But having a gifted child also presents challenges.
Gifted is United States is “students, children, or youth who give evidence of high achievement capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields, and who need services and activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop those capabilities.”. (Institute for Education Advancement). Depending on what state you live in, the IQ score varies a little, but where I live the cutoff if 130 IQ. I have 3 kids and all 3 are gifted. My kids being 8, 10 and 12, two girls and a boy. Now, you may have a gifted child that has never been tested. If that is the case, I would ask your school or you can get them tested privately through a psychologist and your pediatrician can refer you.
All children are blessing and gifts from God. This blog is not intended to say any one child is better than the other. We just have to know our children to be the most effective parents. I could not write a blog about deaf children, because I don’t have any experience with that. But gifted children, I have experience, and these are some of the challenges.
6 Challenges to Parenting Gifted Children
- They are technically smarter than you and then will tell you how you are doing things the wrong way. No joke, I am the least intelligent person in my family of 5, on paper that is. (This is why I hang with my dog!). Of course, I am much older and have more life experiences than them, so I am wiser. But, I am often reminded of how I could be doing things a different and more effective way. Like when driving, cooking, or solving problems. The best way to deal with these suggestions is not to take offense but listen and see if there really is a better way to do it. I don’t shoot down their ideas, because let’s be honest, they are usually correct.
- They generally cannot relate to children their actual age. Gifted children can be more mature and find it difficult to make friends their age. They actually can prefer adult company because it is more stimulating for them. My daughter had a sleepover when she was 8 and got so annoyed when the girls were giggling, laughing and acting silly. Which is normal for 8-year-old girls, but not for her. This can be a problem for them in school because they are clumped by age, and they find it hard to make true friends in their classrooms. How I get around this, is to allow them to choose friends that are either slightly older or on their level. I used to force play dates with kids I knew, but I found these can be more harm than good.
- They generally are very competitive and take loosing very difficultly. I could make a game in my house as to who can fold the laundry the fastest and it would be a full on competition. They all are swimmers and hate to lose, and when they do they are hard in themselves. It is never a shoulder shrug, oh well. This can be an advantage because it is a great motivator and makes them work harder to achieve goals. But it can be difficult to parent because loosing is part of life and you cannot have your kids flying off he handle when they lose. The way I deal with this is to let hem know “I am your biggest fan” (see my earlier blog post titled the same). Meaning, I love you through wins and looses and you are still wonderful to me.
- Teachers, counselors, friends, relatives are always giving advise to you on classes they must take, the best colleges, science fairs, future careers, etc. because they are seen as talented and people want them to “succeed”. I appreciate it, but just because my kids got a perfect score on the state math exam, doesn’t mean she need to take calculus in high school or have a job related to math at all. Nor do they need to enter the science fair, just because science comes easy and at a high level. I have figured out that life is really short, yet work is really long, so you must choose a career you enjoy. (See my earlier blog on retirement). I do think being able to support yourself is important, but you can accommodate your lifestyle to your job. For instance, don’t by a big expensive house if you cannot afford it! I want my kids to be successful at what ever career path they choose but I want them to have joy as well. The way I deal with this is to sometimes just tell the advise givers, no thanks, and to encourage my kids to discover their own talents and passions.
- Some gifted children overlook very simple tasks, like flushing toilets, picking up clothes, and making beds consistently. I know this seems silly. It is not that the task is difficult, it is just that their brain is processing all the time at a higher level and they don’t see the simple stuff. I used to get very frustrated when my son would not pick up his dirty clothes but he is busy building airplanes in his brain, so which would I rather have? I don’t let him skip out on his chores, I just look at it from different perspective. Einstein couldn’t be bothered to brush his hair, get my point? He just needs more reminding. I am not willing to break their creativity and spirit just so my o.c.d. about cleaning is happy. It is more important to focus on their strengths and let the weaknesses slide.
- Because gifted children are more aware of life, they can be worriers. Most children don’t understand life outside their bubble but gifted children are very aware of changes, stress, problems and foresee challenges. They can to carry the weight of the world on them. This is hard to parent because you cannot lie to them or brush problems under the rug. You have to have open communication with them and reassure them that what ever happens, it will be ok. (See previous blog on how to talk to your kids during disasters.) I reinforce that so much of life is out of our control and God has a plan. We don’t need to worry, we need to pray.
Having children is a gift from God. Being a parent is a blessing. We must customize our parenting based on each child and their different needs. Gifted children present their own specific quarks and these are five of the ones I have found.
Comments please from other parents!