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Parenting A Gifted Child

Parenting a Gifted Child

 

Concerns of parents of a gifted child frequently include:

 

1)      My child is different.  How can I find out whether s/he is gifted?

 

Child can be different from the norm in many ways.  Giftedness is just one of those ways.

 

Some gifted behaviours overlap with behaviours demonstrated by special-needs childen.  Read our article on twice-exceptional children to find out more about this.  Comprehensive identification of a gift or a special-need (or the coexistence of both) relies on behavioral observations, psychometric testing, portfolio analysis (review of the child’s productive work, including work undertaken independently outside class), and checklists rated by parents/teachers/peers.  No single measure or method should be used to identify giftedness.

 

To read about the NIAS identification programme, read our FAQ.  To read sample profiles of gifted children, go here.  To give us more information about a child who you think may be gifted, go here.

 

2)      Can I get my child certified as gifted?

 

NAGE-India does not certify any child as gifted.  Giftedness is best viewed as a fluid category: a child considered gifted today may not be so next year, other than ten years later (and vice versa).  Even multi-method, multi-measure identification programmes cannot certify that a child recognised as gifted will demonstrate commensurate levels of performance, or that the child will continue to meet identification criteria at a future date.

 

3)      If my child is gifted, will s/he always achieve at a high level?

 

Giftedness, or high ability, is correlated with achievement or performance to some extent.  Ability is only one of numerous factors that affect performance.  Other factors include interest, home environment, education, parental and socioeconomic variables, and personality variables (including persistence and resilience).  A child’s ability level and his/her performance do not correlate perfectly.  Further, identification as gifted today is by no means a guarantee of high performance now or later.

 

4)      If my child is gifted, what should s/he study?  Will s/he be a good doctor/engineer/scientist etc.?

 

As for any child, the best course of study for a gifted child depends on a combination of ability, interest, and opportunity.  By ability, we mean ability in a given area.  While different abilities (e.g. verbal, mathematical, musical) are quite highly correlated with each other, a child will show different ability and interest across area/s.  Recognising a child as gifted does not mean s/he “can” or “should”  pursue any particular line of study deemed “challenging.”  Challenge is subjective – should a child who is gifted in music be chanelled into law?

 

5)      How can I make sure my child develops his/her abilities in the proper way?

 

Parents want their children to success no matter what their ability level.  Unfortunately, “succeeding” and “not wasting their ability” often means pursuing and excelling at a career chosen by the parent.  Parents, teachers, and society as a whole categorises some occupations as “successful” or distribute – doctor, lawyer, engineer, professor; and other occupations as suitable only for individuals with lower-ability or as a “waste of ability” – plumber, electrician, nurse, gardener.  These categories are completely arbitrary and do not reflect the scope for challenge and excellence offered by a vast range of occupations.  To make sure your child develops his/her abilities, you need to first recognise the areas in which your child is able and interested.  For any child, optimal parental support wll recognise, support, and nurture the child’s abilities.

 

6)      I think my child already knows that s/he is different.  Teachers, relatives, and his/her friends also seem to know.  Should I discuss giftedness with the child, or will the label negatively affect his/her development?

 

It is a common belief that labelling a child has adverse consequences.  In the short-term, the child’s adjustment and family dynamics may indeed change.  However, research suggests that in the long run, gifted children adjust to the label.

 

Part of the potential dangers of labelling come from the fact that our understanding of giftedness is vague.  If we define giftedness as

 

7)      My child has no friends.  What should I do?

 

Many gifted children get along better with older children, adults, or other bright children of their own age.  The child will benefit from interactions with a mentor – an adult (or older child) with expertise in the child’s areas of interest.  The mentor may be a teacher, a family friend, or a relative; frequently the child will locate the mentor on his/her own.  Alternatively, you can identify a mentor for your child.  Mentors are important primarily for intellectual development, but also for socioemotional development – so make sure the child gets along with the mentor.

 

Gifted children with peer adjustment difficulties are commoner than you think.  A neighbourhood group of children that meets every weekend can meet some of the socioemotional and intellectual needs of gifted children.