So many clients call and ask me, where do I start? What do I do?
Here are my 5 top tips for Starting Out when you are Parenting Your Gifted Child
Tip # 1: Learn about the Term
Gifted is different than Talented
Gifted is a Population
Gifted people not only possess high potential, they share common social and emotional characteristics, and psychological issues, resulting in unique needs in education and parenting. Gifted and Talented can be one-in-the-same or separate entities. Talent means having ability and being capable of scoring high on group achievement tests, (scoring in the 95%tile and above on academic and educational tests). Gifted children and people poses above average potential (scoring 130 or above on IQ tests), while sharing similar psychological issues, resulting in qualitatively different needs than their peers.
Tip # 2: Accept Them As-Is
Always Remember that Your Child is a Unique Person with Both Strengths and Weaknesses
Reactions to finding out that you have a gifted child can range from disbelief, confusion and fear, to outright refusal of the term. No matter what your reaction, your child came into this world with unique strengths and weaknesses, just like all other children. Follow their lead. They will guide you to what they need, what is working, and what is not working. If I could give only one word of advice it would be to Listen. Listen to what your child is saying to you. Gifted children are very adept at evaluating their environment when young. Positive growth occurs when parents’ expectations and style, along with the environment expectations and demands, fit the behavioral tendencies and temperaments of children.
Tip # 3: Be Flexible
For some, especially those who struggle with perfectionism, embracing mistakes can be most challenging. Have the courage to be imperfect, in appropriate ways, in front of your child. Be kind to yourself and others when mistakes are made. Avoid blame and shame. Model finding solutions to mistakes with your child. Embrace and celebrate accepting challenges and learning from mistakes as not only being part of life, but as an opportunity to learn.
Tip # 4: Put Your Oxygen Mask on First
Schedule Self Care
I know you hear this a lot in the parenting arena, but it is essential that you schedule self-care into each day when you parent a gifted child. Gifted children are intense and require a lot of their parents’ time and energy. They can do things quicker than their peers, are often perfectionistic, demanding, sensitive, and divergent in thinking. Keeping up with their mental growth, psychological and educational needs is challenging for even the most knowledgeable parent. Set up routines, let the routines rule, or carve out some time each day to refuel.
Tip # 5: Get Connected
Join Groups, Take Classes, Seek Out Parents of Gifted Children
Gifted children are different than their peers. Their development is different. Parenting a gifted child is different. Being different can create feelings of isolation. When in isolation gifted parents can believe that common characteristics of the gifted population are abnormal resulting in misunderstanding, mislabeling, and “pathologizing” the child. I’ve seen gifted children labeled as disabled or having a mental health problem, receiving the wrong interventions, resulting in more severe behavioral and psychological problems. Know what is common, what to expect, and learn strategies to support your child by joining groups and taking classes.
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