A gifted child is one who has some special ability which is way ahead of her age-appropriate milestones. These abilities could be in a particular academic area – math for example – or in the arts. She could also have a far higher IQ than normal for her age. As parents you are naturally filled with pride and joy when your child is graded as ‘gifted’. But you are also bound to be worried about how you are going to handle her, and nurture her. Here are some tips that will help you:
- A child is a child: Remember that your child is a child, gifted or not. So treat him like a child in everything other than his exceptional ability. Don’t expect him to be mature in reasoning or emotions just because he can understand fractions in Upper Kindergarten. Don’t be surprised if he throws a tantrum when you say ‘no’ to an ice-cream.
- Q and A: Most children are curious by nature. A gifted child will be more curious than most. She will ask question after question. Encourage those questions. Answer as fully as you can. If you don’t know the answers, or know enough to satisfy her, just tell her, “I’ll need to check that” or “Let me find out more about that.” Make sure you get back to her, or direct her to someone who knows.
- Everyone’s special: A child who is ahead of his peers often finds it frustrating to work in groups. He will not understand why other children can’t keep up with him. This could make him feel isolated. Explain to him, that everyone is different, and everyone is special. This will help him later, to live and work with people who are not on the same level as him.
- No overloading: If you have the tendency to overload your gifted child with ‘opportunities’, curb it. Signing her up for every possible course, activity and hobby is only going to cause a burn-out. Find out what she would like to do. If you realise that something you have signed her on for is not working for her, don’t hesitate to pull her out. Ensure she has downtime, opportunities to watch cartoons on TV or play in the park. This will actually accelerate her development.
- Winning and losing: Gifted children are often perfectionists. They set the bar very high for themselves. They have a tendency to take winning for granted. By implication, they are bad losers. So it’s important to teach your gifted child that it’s okay to lose.
Don’t forget that your basic goal as a parent is to raise a good human being. A gifted child needs disciplining, just like any other child. Set the same rules for honesty, cleanliness, responsibility and other values that you would for other children. This will make him a good human being, as well as one who lives up to his potential.