• Ten Suggestions for Parents of Gifted Children

    Dr. James Webb, clinical psychologist and senior author of Guiding the Gifted Child,

    offers a list of ten suggestions for parents of gifted:

    Treat them as children. They are still children. They need what all other children

    need: love but controls; attention but discipline; your involvement, yet training in selfreliance

    and responsibility. Even though they are gifted, they have a thorough

    understanding of adult problems such as death, sickness, job loss etc. They may need

    reassurance in these areas.

    Maintain a consistent system of values and a happy, healthy home. Maintaining

    harmony in the family is important for their optimum development. As gifted children

    may have a greater sensitivity to the world around them, they may be more affected by

    family disruption. If there is a breakup within the family, be honest with the child in a

    kind and gentle manner.

    Give them a special gift: Time. Children need an understanding parent and/or role

    model, and they need to spend time with this person. The child needs your attention in

    order to discuss values and ideas. These children often love the unconventional. You

    need to spend time helping them to understand the importance of behaving in a socially

    acceptable way.

    Don’t stifle the gifted child. Gifted children are known for their curiosity and parents

    should be especially careful not to stifle the gifted child who asks questions. In

    particular, the child should not be discouraged for asking questions about what seems

    to be an improper or forbidden subject. The parent may, however, insist that questions

    not be asked at inappropriate times, and it may be necessary to ask the child to clarify

    or rephrase a question. Questions don’t need to be answered completely, but parents or

    significant adults should provide a clue, guidance or even a question, which sends the

    child into some productive direction. When the parents cannot answer the questions,

    they should direct the child to a resource, which is likely to have the information.

    Intellectually stimulate the gifted. Pushing and intellectual stimulation are different.

    Some parents seem to feel pressured in many activities, such as reading, problems

    solving, etc. to push for greater achievement. Rather, you should seek in every way to

    stimulate and broaden the child’s mind and enhance research skills through exposure to

    books, encyclopedias, collections, charts, travel, technology, the arts, and active

    experiences. It is important to take your child to libraries and resource centers. Let them

    browse and read, let them use the computer to explore. Often children who never get

    out of their home environment need to see what the city core is like. Expose them to

    museums and art galleries, educational institutions and historical places to enhance

    their background learning and feed their curiosity.

    Encourage friendships and discover hobbies. Children need friends who are like

    themselves, to play games with and to share ideas. Encourage friendships, talk to their

    friends and show your child the value of a real friendship. Parents should encourage

    their children’s hobbies and help them share their interests with their peers and friends.

    Avoid discouraging unusual questions or attitudes. Parents should avoid direct,

    indirect or unspoken attitudes that fantasy, originality, unusual questions, imaginary

    playmates, or out-of-the-ordinary mental processes are bad, or different. Gifted

    children’s imaginations shouldn’t be discouraged. Instead of laughing at your child,

    laugh with your child and seek to develop a sense of humor and balanced outlook.

    Don’t over-schedule your child’s life. Many parents feel that all of the child’s spare

    time must be filled up with extra lessons of all kinds. They are afraid that the child may

    become bored for a short time. Allow your child to become bored and let them find a

    way to use time unscheduled by adults. Sometimes parents are concerned if gifted

    children spend their time watching TV or reading comic books. While they should not

    spend all their time doing so, children cannot be expected to perform at the challenge

    level at all times. Remember, TV and comic books have their own place in a child’s

    growth and development and help a child develop connections with their less gifted

    peers and understand popular culture. Use common sense!

    Respect the children and their knowledge. Sometimes, it may be better than your

    own. If you feel that a child has made a mistake, start with the assumption that the child

    did not intend to do wrong. If your child wishes to follow his or her own methods for

    problem solving, interfere only if the child is in jeopardy of physical or emotional harm.

    When you have a task you want your child to do, give general instructions to be carried

    out in the child’s way, rather than specific commands that do not take into consideration

    your child’s personality.

    Get involved in school efforts and community programs to plan for gifted

    children. Support the schools efforts to plan programs and activities for these children.

    Help to interest the Parent/Teacher Association; solicit their help. Support study groups.

    Be active in the community and advocate for special education programs. Work to

    construct greater community understanding and appreciation of the special education

    needs of gifted children and collaborate with all parents in an effort to improve schools

    for all children.