Advice for Parenting Gifted Children

“I think I must have picked up the wrong baby at the hospital,” stated one mother when talking about her elementary school whiz kid. She had no idea how her son knew the things he did or how he developed some of his interests.

In Nourishing the Super Kid, other parents voice similar feelings. Lesley Ansell-Shepherd describes how she supported her son’s interest in marine biology by introducing him to others who shared the same interest. She tells how they visited a museum to see special exhibits, went to the library to get books, and attended meetings of the local natural history society. Although the parents did not have special knowledge in the area of marine biology or a strong interest in it, they were able to support their son by providing a community of practitioners in the field.

In the same article, Lannie Kanevsky, who is an associate professor of education at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, with a special interest in gifted education, gives the following advice to parents:
  • value the child’s strength, whether it’s academic, athletic, or humanitarian;
  • remember that the child is still like other children in many ways, with the need to be loved, the tendency to misbehave, and common anxieties about life; and
  • support your child’s passions, even if they change from week to week. Expose your child to people and places where his passion can flourish.
Families may need to struggle with the subject of a youngster being well-rounded. Should a child who is a gifted pianist also be required to play on a soccer team? Enabling kids to succeed means not having a preconceived concept that a child will follow certain paths and participate in certain activities. Each child is an individual.

Although parents should advocate for an appropriate education for their youngster in school, they will also need to find ways to challenge her outside the classroom. It is also important to maintain a balance. Don’t be a “stage parent.” Gifted children need to be children first.

In The Talent to Excel, parents again express their wonder at where their gifted children got their interests. Some feel that they were born with certain personalities that moved them toward certain areas of expertise (i.e., A caring heart may move a child toward a deep understanding of others or toward a love of nature.).

This article includes the following advice from parents:
  • Read a lot to your child, even when he can read himself.
  • Listen to your youngster and take her interests seriously.
  • Show him things that can help mold his character.
  • Be on your child’s side.
  • Set a culture in your house of learning, reading, and using one’s brain.
  • Play many different kinds of music.
  • Get out and be physically active together.
  • Expose your child to many different experiences.
  • Try to keep life positive. 
  • Encourage, but don’t force your young person to do what he loves to do.

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