The Knox School of Santa Barbara
Guidelines of Parents of the Gifted - Part II
Updated: Sep 12, 2020
By: Linda Silverman, Ph.D.
Part I was published on March 14, 2017
Give the children responsibilities as early as possible, gradually increasing the size of the tasks as they are ready to assume them. Very young children can be asked to put away the silverware (a sorting activity). They can learn early in life that everyone helps. Responsibilities add to their feelings of competence and belonging. Accomplishing difficult tasks paves the way toward adult achievement.
Gifted children are able to do many things independently much earlier than other children. Whenever possible, let them discover their own ways of doing things. Allow them to make mistakes. Avoid criticism or unnecessary corrections which might embarrass them. What they learn in the process of attempting new things is far more important than the quality of their finished products.
Creativity is an important aspect of giftedness. Gifted children tend to be sensitive to the creativity expressed in music, art, literature, and nature. They may need music or nature for inspiration and even consolation at times. Encourage them to develop their imagination and all means of creative expression. Invent visualization games and fantasies with them. Many gifted children have fantasy friends who will be left behind when the time comes. Let them enjoy them while they can.
Provide opportunities for the children to interact often with other gifted children, older children, and stimulating adults. If the school does not offer a program for gifted children, find or create after-school experiences which will facilitate these interactions.
Help them learn social skills, such as asking questions in a social accepted manner, not putting others down when someone disagrees with them, being careful about other people's feelings, and trying to understand others. Set an example by not disparaging others in front of them. Teach them how to get along with others without sacrificing their individuality. Don't teach them by word or example to play down their gifts to gain popularity.
Take time to listen to your children. if they jabber constantly, don't tune them out. Let them know when you are too busy to give them your full attention and set aside a time when your mind is free to really listen the way you would to a friend.
Be open to their questions. Gifted children are very curious. They often have early concerns about the meaning of life, death, justice, war, sexuality. Be the person they trust to ask these questions. It is not necessary to know the answers to their questions. Instead, ask the child, "What do you think?" This gives you a better idea of their thinking processes and gives them opportunities to hypothesize and solve problems on their own rather than being dependent upon authorities for the answers.
Some gifted children are naturally gregarious and others are naturally introverted. Rarely are attempts made to create introverts out of extroverts, but the opposite is often the case. Many gifted children have diverse interests and have difficulty setting priorities, whereas others specialize early and remain devoted to their chosen disciplines. Recognize that children differ in temperament, personality, interests, and goals. Allow your child to develop in his or her own unique manner.
Don't expect that your child will respond the way you did to a particular school provision. Some adults regretted that they were sent to private schools or accelerated or pushed too hard by their parents, so they vowed never to make those mistakes with their children. Each child is unique and needs a provision which suits him, even if it was inappropriate for his parents.
Don't over-schedule them with activities. Give them time to think, to play, to daydream, to be children.
Linda Silverman, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist and Director of the Gifted Development Center in Denver, Colorado.