It goes without saying that gifted children are as varied in their academic, psychological and social needs as the households that produce them. Some children have successfully managed to integrate their academic gifts and talents with who they are as a person while others struggle to make such adjustments.
One thing I hear most as an acceleration coach from parents is how their child exhibits scholastic talent at home but “dumb themselves down” to avoid being singled out in school. We as parents know all too well the disastrous affects this behavior can have not just on our children’s academic career but on their self-esteem and the realization of their full potential.
Going along to just “get along” can cause children to lose their sense of self by constantly seeking outside approval and yielding to the will and intentions of others. For many kids this has led to profound stress, depression and exaggerated angst that further complicate the natural maturation process. Whereas for gifted children whose parents have taken the time to instill the confidence that comes through a balanced recognition of their precociousness (through the meticulous amending of their children’s educational and social needs to complement their intellectual prowess), many of them have gone on to enjoy healthy self-concepts and fulfilling careers.
So how can YOU as a parent help your child to find equilibrium as a gifted child? Here are a few suggestions:
oIf they are already sensitive to having gifts and talents that sets them apart from their peers, try to avoid using the terms “gifted”, “genius”, or “precocious”. More than likely, they want to be perceived as normal and singling them out even further by sticking them with these labels will only exacerbate the situation.
oBe creative in finding ways to focus on and further develop their gifts at home without the use the above-mentioned terms. Just because they may not want to be identified as gifted around their peers doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t want to engage in their gifts outside of school. They can’t help it! It’s just the way their brains are wired! Typically, who they are at their core will consistently drive them to want to learn and excel – albeit privately!
oIt is a known fact by experts that when children engage in activities they love and perform exceptionally well in…they become enthusiastic and inspired! This is where they find their POWER and within that their confidence will soar. You want to build up their self-esteem to the point where they become particularly proud of their gifts/talents and begin to stop caring about how others may perceive them.
oFinally, honor and acknowledge their personality/character traits. Tie some of their personal attributes to a successful life skill. For instance, once my daughter had difficulty grasping the way a particular lesson was being presented in her Pre-calculus class. After struggling a few minutes with the homework, she took the initiative to refer to other resources on the same lesson to find a “better way” that she could comprehend the information. Her tenacity and determination did pay off; attributes that serve as cornerstones to achievement in all of life’s endeavors!
Acknowledging the other personal virtues of children will help them to develop as a whole person and come to appreciate how they more than just their gifts.
Parents please remember that navigating this terrain isn’t just a matter of spontaneous spurts of adequate gifted instruction and personal attention. Raising precocious children requires commitment, skill and a lot of loving-kindness (in the form of patience) to realize a successful outcome.
Take solace in that the many parents who have come before you on this journey have already achieved the results they desired. You can most assuredly take your place among them!
Michelle Brown-Stafford,Acceleration Coach, Entrepreneur
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