Raising Gifted Children

Raising gifted children can be as rewarding as it can be stressful. As with raising any child, the ups and downs associated with raising a gifted child will affect the entire family. Everything from less gifted siblings feeling inferior to gifted child being exploited may occur at one time or another in the household of a gifted child. As the parent, you must be prepared to offer guidance to your child in the form of praise and unconditional love.

Testing a Gifted Child
The Stanford-Binet Form L-M is probably the most used tool for testing a gifted child. As gifted children, especially girls, mature, they tend to dumb it down or become underachievers in order to fit in with the other children. Testing can keep gifted children challenged and on track. A child who has an IQ of 120 will require less information or stimulation than a child with an IQ of 140 or higher. Each gifted child may stand out in different areas and require different stimulation. By maintaining an accurate accounting of your child's ability, you will be better equipped to understand your child's intellectual, physical and emotional needs.

Growth in Gifted Children
Though your child may be light years ahead of his peers-and even you, at times-he is still a child. Your child will learn by watching you. Show your child how to handle the stress that can go hand-in-hand with the uniqueness of being gifted.

Intellectual: Children will question a parent's authority from time to time. The best way to handle this form of disrespect is to respect your child's opinion and try to see things from her perspective. Children are often not mature enough to realize they are disrespecting a parent when they challenge them.

Always be positive. Talk, be flexible when possible, but don't allow the conversation to escalate into an argument. If safety concerns are behind your decision, then no discussion should be allowed. Simply tell your child that safety always comes first.

Parents should understand that many gifted children see themselves as adults trapped in the bodies of children. Because they often feel like adults, they also expect to be treated like adults, which is what leads to frustration both for the child and the parent. Gifted children often want to include their opinion or have their ideas considered. They can feel insulted when they are not included in the decision-making process.

Though all children demand answers, parents also need to remember who is in charge. Sometimes you simply won't have time to explain. Kids need to understand this.

A gifted child should not be allowed to challenge you, his teacher or any other authority figures. He may try. It is up to you and his teachers to teach him right from wrong. Remember: he is still a child. Regardless of how high his IQ is, he doesn't know everything. Learning to respect safety rules as well as his peers, authority figures and strangers; knowing when to speak and when not to speak and understanding that others may not be interested in his opinion are things that every child needs to understand.

Physical: A child who is intellectually advanced often runs into the problem of not being able to physically do the things he intuitively understands. When he tries and fails, he may act out his frustrations by becoming demanding and rude.

Keeping your child mentally challenged can help keep her from being too physical at an early age. At the same time, it is very important to make sure your child remains as active as any child her age. Sometimes a child is gifted in areas such as math and science, but is a total klutz when it comes to playing sports. That's no reason to keep her off the playground. Not all children are perfect athletes, and your child needs to learn that she is not the best at everything. A mental, physical and emotional balance is the key to a well-rounded child.

Emotional: A three-year-old has the emotions of a three-year-old and a ten-year-old has the emotions of a ten-year-old. Don't push your child into the adult world too soon-even if that's where he thinks he wants to be. Offer him a secure environment in which to play and grow, and be there for him as he learns and explores his world. Never push him faster than her emotional and physical limits allow.

Because gifted children tend to require less sleep than the average child, their sleeping patterns can often turn into a nightmare for parents. If you find that your child sleeps less than expected, work around her schedule as best you can.

A gifted child may be more vulnerable to emotional distress and frustration. Be aware of your child's special abilities and adapt your parenting style to accommodate them. Talk to your child's teachers as well, so that they too can be strong influences in your child's learning.

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