Most parents of gifted children are aware of the importance of reading from an early age, talking about a range of topics, and taking them to places of cultural interest. Here are some less obvious principles to keep in mind as you help your child develop her talents in a way which preserves self-esteem.
Promote your child’s interests.
Let your child discover for herself what she has an interest in and provide the time, materials, and opportunities to allow her to pursue it. Once she gets involved, avoid taking over or being overly intrusive.
Set and stick to reasonable limits.
Bright children often debate every point with the skill of Clarence Darrow. Once you determine which issues are important to you, stand your ground. Giving in frequently to your child’s pleas shows her that rules are not to be respected.
Encourage self expression.
Show interest in your child’s thoughts and feelings, and be respectful of her views, even those that are different or novel.
Don’t neglect other needs.
She may be light-years ahead of her peers in some abilities, but she likely has the same needs for emotional support and peer acceptance. Provide opportunities to play with children her own age.
Be sensitive to applying pressure.
As the great philosopher Linus said to Charlie Brown: “There’s no heavier burden than great potential.” Gifted children often feel the weight of their giftedness, especially if parents dwell on “potential” or showcase their talents.
Encourage taking chances.
Some gifted children are reluctant to take risks for fear of failing. Avoid talking about their gifted status or they may sidestep challenges.
Consider all your kids’ needs.
Siblings of gifted children can develop feelings of low self-esteem and jealousy. While you do not need to have the same standards of performance for all your children, it is important to find areas in which everyone can shine.
Even the most enlightened of parents can fall prey to gender stereotypes. Monitor your biases, and don’t steer kids towards or away from certain subjects or careers.
Dr. Kenneth Shore is a family and school psychologist: drkennethshore.nprinc.com.
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