Parenting the Gifted Child

“Giftedness” is a term that typically applies to individuals with intellectual skills that are well above
those of their peers. It can also refer to individuals who are creative, accomplished, or talented in a
particular area. Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences tells us that children can be gifted in different
ways (e.g., Spatial, Musical, Linguistic, etc.). Identifying and harnessing your child’s particular strengths
can promote lifelong achievement and sense of purpose.

Children who are identified as gifted are often eligible for gifted programming at school. Parents can
advocate for their gifted children by working with educators to make sure their child is being challenged
in a manner that matches their potential. Gifted students who are bored in school can become
disengaged, and they can even be mistaken as having ADHD or behavior problems.

While gifted students have unique strengths, being gifted does not guarantee success! Students have
to be motivated and put forth effort into achieving their goals. The work of Dr. Carol Dweck tells us that
we can promote motivation and engagement in learning by cultivating a “growth mindset,” or teaching
children that our abilities can be developed with practice, and by rewarding effort rather than the
outcome. For example, a child should be praised for practicing the piano every day, not for being able
to play a particularly challenging tune.

People are usually the most motivated to work hard in activities they find interesting. Support your
child’s interests and passions, give them opportunities to develop their talents, and encourage them to
try new things. And be sure to nurture the “whole child,” including socially and emotionally, as gifted
children sometimes struggle with issues of anxiety and making friends despite having extraordinary
talents. Finding opportunities to just “be a kid” is just as important for their development and mental
health.

Katie Falwell

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