Raising a gifted child can be a blessing and a curse. Whether they have a talent for entertaining or a towering intellect, gifted kids come in all shapes and sizes.
They may excel in one or more areas but commonly struggle in others. No one is good at everything, and it is unfair to expect a gifted kid to excel in all areas.
Gifted children can possess:
- Intellectual gifts, such as high IQ (above 125), math, science, specific and general subject excellence or expertise, typically beyond their grade level.
- Creative proficiency in musical instruments, singing, dance, art, writing, etc.
- Athletic ability, including sports, stunts, physical or kinetic coordination, incredible strength and/or flexibility, etc.
- Superhuman skills, like extraordinary memory, the ability to easily and quickly learn languages, creative skills or complex subjects, chess and competitive games mastery, etc.
So how do you best handle a child once you identify a true gift? Here are a few ways to keep your home peaceful and functioning, and help make sure your child becomes successful and well-adjusted.
Special need savants
Some children are so gifted they are considered savants, and about 10-33% of individuals on the autism spectrum are also considered savants.
Because of this correlation, it is important to maintain a close relationship with your child’s school staff and teachers.
You all need to work together to monitor your child’s academic, social and emotional progress. Together you can identify and address any issues or deficiencies your child may have and request a professional evaluation if necessary.
Autistic children have special needs and will rely on the village to care for them, whether they’re gifted or not. And even if your child is not autistic they may still be struggling and need one-on-one or specialized assistance.
Support without pressure
In most cases when you find your child is excelling in an area to the point of giftedness you will need to balance promotion and support. You can encourage their gifts by giving them the opportunity to develop skills in areas where they have natural talents or sharpen them where they already have expertise.
You can nudge them if they lose motivation or want to broaden their horizons to other interests, but don’t be pushy or they might feel pressured to please you or do what you want them to do at the expense of their own desires.
In extreme circumstances, particularly ambitious parents can make gifted children feel used for their talents and skills. Or they may feel unappreciated for who they are, and only appreciated for their gifts.
Whole human being
No child should be defined by one aspect of their lives. Their gifts are part of them but are not who they are. So make sure to help them develop as a whole human being, with lots of interests, skills, experiences and values.
When a child defines themselves by a single or small set of characteristics it can cause several problems.
It may stunt their personal growth as they lean back and rely on this single talent, skill or ability to get them through life. It may also affect their self-esteem and promote insecurity by holding onto these few traits to make them feel special or valuable.
This causes some kids to act out aggressively in defense of those gifts as a challenger, rival or critic makes them feel viscerally threatened.
Work and reward
It is imperative to teach your gifted kid to have a strong work ethic and practice to become even better at what they’re already brilliant in. Instill a work ethic in them so they don’t try to rest on their gifts and coast by in life.
Your child may not come across someone better than them often, but there will definitely be someone working harder than your them.
A gifted child is still a child. And most importantly your child. While raising this special kind of kid can be fulfilling, it can also become incredibly challenging.
Give them room to breathe and explore other parts of life while supporting and encouraging their gifts.
Don’t focus on a single feature of theirs, appreciate the whole person. And make sure they’re growing and developing.