Parenting Tips: Do’s and Don’ts from a Counselor for Gifted Kids
As a child therapist, I understand how difficult daily life can be for parents of gifted children. You may even find yourself Googling “how to parent a gifted child.” We want you to know that this isn’t a bad thing, that’s what I’m here for.
DO: Provide intellectual challenges at home.
A lot of the time, many gifted children are taught to actually underperform at school as they are trying to mirror the intellectual level that their classmates are at. According to SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted), “test anxiety, perfectionism, and fear of failure may all be associated with this early conditioning and lack of challenge in school.” As the parent of a gifted child, it is a good idea for you to make up for this lack of intellectual challenge they have at school through different practices and activities at home.
One great thing to keep in mind as the parent of a gifted child is to give them opportunities where they may get frustrated and need to work hard to figure something out. This is a common sign in gifted children that they are being intellectually challenged because they are working toward something that may not come easy to them.
DON’T: Forget your role as their parent in the relationship.
One of the biggest mistakes we see parents of gifted children make is giving the child too much autonomy in their decision-making. As a parent, by assuming a gifted child is able to make the best decisions for themselves regarding school and activities, you are giving them too much power. SENG even says that doing this can undermine “the child’s confidence in the adult.” A gifted child who is given more power than needed may put an undue burden on them and make the parent feel less confident in their skills as a parent of a gifted child.
It is important to get your gifted child’s input on what types of activities they would like to be doing, but it’s important that as the parent of a gifted child that you make all the final decisions. This further reinforces the roles of the parent/child relationship.
DO: Be an example for your children on prioritizing and scheduling.
According to SENG, gifted children may “discover early that they have many interests and can get more done—wear more hats—than most other people.” This can lead to them getting over-involved, especially if you don’t limit your child’s activities, and they may not be able to keep their stress at a manageable level. One of the best pieces of advice we can give for parents of gifted children is to show them what a balanced schedule looks like. Show them how to include all of their goals within their daily/weekly schedule and help them distinguish their goals from the goals of others.
DON’T: Focus solely on your child’s strengths and weaknesses.
As the parent of a gifted child, it’s important to not only push them toward choosing activities based on their individual strengths and weaknesses but toward activities that will help them pursue their highest interests. It is important to help them recognize activities that will strengthen the skills any “normally functioning adult citizen” will use on a daily basis. Also, keep in mind that gifted children typically learn at a significantly faster rate than other children, so they should be taught in accordance with “their own readiness level and pace.”
Child therapists are trained professionals that help children understand what is going on in their minds and bodies in a stress-free way. When it comes to securing counseling for your child, making sure your little one’s thoughts and feelings are in the hands of a trained child counselor will allow your child to navigate their feelings in a positive way.
About Audacious Therapy | Counseling for Gifted Kids in Denver, Colorado
Claire Elisassen, MA LPC has been practicing since 2012 and has worked with children professionally for over 15 years. She loves using play therapy as a way to speak the child’s language and get to the root of their specific troubles. Personally, she loves to spend time with her family and friends, gardening, reading, laughing, being outside, as well as doing creative things like making her own pickles and sewing.