Gifted Children and Adolescents

Why Identify Young Gifted Children

FullSizeRenderYoung Gifted Children are tremendously vulnerable to:

  • Misunderstanding and misinterpretation by others
  • Stereotypes of what people believe it means to be gifted
  • A sense of differentness that they don’t have a way of understanding
  • Being fearful, able to comprehend realities such as death and war before they are old enough to cope emotionally
  • Age-inappropriate expectations

 

 


Meeting the Needs of the Very Young Gifted Child

Optimal Qualities of Adults for Meeting the Needs of the Gifted Child:

  • Self- confident Assertive, but not passive nor aggressive
  • Authoritative, not passive nor authoritarian
  • Open-minded and flexible
  • Sense of humor (perspective)
  • Available
  • Trust-worthy

What Can You Do?

  • Accept and tolerate differences
  • Remember that gifted children are children first
  • Gifted children need encouragement and stimulation but they also need discipline in order to develop self-discipline
  • Support self-direction and autonomy but don’t demand it
  • Encourage personal responsibility
  • Encourage and role-model interpersonal skills such as courtesy and cooperation
  • Value cooperation as well as competition
  • Answer questions honestly and correctly, or role-model research to find answers
  • Read, read, read-many things and some over and over
  • Encourage healthy behavior and physical skills
  • Support play with a variety of other children
  • Use community resources
  • Protect gifted children from exploitation
  • Provide enrichment and down-time
  • Role-model persistence in learning and overcoming obstacles
  • Give your child a way to understand him- or herself
  • Give your child the gifts of time and undivided attention

Meeting the Needs of the Gifted Child

Remember that giftedness is just one aspect of your child. There are different types of giftedness: global giftedness, mathematical giftedness, verbal giftedness, and giftedness plus learning difficulties. Factors such as birth order, gender, in-born temperament, health, athleticism and personality characteristics are just as important in meeting the needs of your gifted child. A child’s social and interpersonal skills can influence success just as much as intelligence. A child’s ethnicity and culture influence his or her values and behavior. A child’s access to resources allow for or limit their ability to express their giftedness.

Optimal Qualities of Adults for Meeting the Needs of the Gifted Child:

  • Self-Confident
  • Assertive, but not passive nor aggressive
  • Authoritative, not passive nor authoritarian
  • Open-minded and flexible
  • Sense of humor (perspective)
  • Available
  • Trust-worthy

What Can You Do?

  • Accept and tolerate differences between your child and his/her siblings and peers.
  • Remember that gifted children are children first; they might be more or less mature than their chronological age at any given time.
  • Gifted children need encouragement and stimulation but they also need discipline in order to develop self-discipline.
  • Support self-direction and autonomy but don’t demand it at all times.
  • Encourage personal responsibility through family rules, roles and logical consequences.
  • Encourage and role-model interpersonal skills such as courtesy and cooperation.
  • Value and encourage cooperation as well as competition.
  • Answer questions honestly and correctly, or role-model research to find answers.
  • Read, read, read- many things and some over and over as long as your child enjoys it.
  • Encourage healthy behavior and physical skills.
  • Individual sports and arts can be just as valuable as team sports.
  • Support play with a variety of other children.
  • Directly teach interpersonal skills.
  • Use community resources such as libraries and organizations.
  • Ask schools to provide services but be prepared to find services privately.
  • Use organizational influence.
  • Protect gifted children from exploitation by those impressed with their giftedness.
  • Provide enrichment and down-time.
  • Enrichment can be in the form of a long term interest or a sampler of new activities.
  • Down-time might be day-dreaming or behaviors that seem to be unproductive but actually serve to reduce stress, encourage imagination and promote personal resourcefulness.
  • Role-model persistence in learning and overcoming obstacles.
  • Give your child the gifts of time and undivided attention.
  • Make sure some of your time together is protected from phone calls, other children and distractions such as television and computer.
  • Give your child a way to understand him- or herself by understanding his/her strengths, weaknesses and personality characteristics.

 


Recognizing the Gifted Child

The gifted child might demonstrate several of the following characteristics:

  • Excellent memory More complex reasoning than other children the same age
  • Greater disparity between different areas of development
  • Often perfectionistic of self and others
  • Often emotionally sensitive
  • Strong sense of justice
  • Often gets along better with adults and children older or younger
  • Develops intense interests
  • Advanced ability with words, numbers, drawing, puzzles, or …
  • Curious
  • High energy Imaginative
  • Divergent thinking
  • Demanding of adult attention

 


What Do Gifted Children Need?

  • Gifted children need some way to understand who they are.
  • They need to know someone understands them (and likes them the way they are)
  • Assistance in setting realistic goals and expectations
  • Resources to actualize their potential
  • Guidance in interpersonal skills
  • Freedom to be gifted in some areas and average or below average in others
  • Unconditional love and positive regard

 


Common Myths

  • Gifted children are high achievers-no, not always
  • Gifted children need to be pushed-pushing is often counter-productive
  • They can succeed without help-successful gifted children almost always have a parent or adult mentor
  • Their families always prize their gifts
  • They are equally gifted in all areas
  • They are as mature emotionally as they are intellectually
  • They enjoy serving as examples and helpers for other children.

 


Potential Problems

  • A sense of being different
  • Unrealistic pressures on self and others
  • Overemphasis on gifted areas
  • Excessive pressure to succeed
  • Insufficient guidance or assistance
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Strained sibling and peer relationships
  • Misinterpretation of behavior by peers and adults.

 


Resources for Parents of Gifted Children

 Characteristics of a Preschool or Childcare Optimal for Gifted Children

  • Are there adults who understand giftedness, or are willing to learn?
  • Are there other gifted, very bright, and/or slightly older children?
  • Do the adults seem to enjoy the children?
  • Are there periods of structured, as well as unstructured time?
  • Can many of the materials be used without adult assistance?
  • Do the adults accept divergent thinking? (the cow can be colored green)
  • Are books available to the children?
  • Are there centers for exploration of language, numbers, music, art, role play, and life skills (shoe tying, liquid pouring)?
  • Are the adults available to the parents, but NOT while caring for the children?
  • Are there quiet times and areas where the children can spend time?
  • Do at least some of the teachers speak clear, grammatically correct English?
  • Do the teachers or caregivers teach the children, age 3 and older, to solve problems themselves rather that solve the problems for them?

Organizations

  • Academic Talent Development Program- U.C. Berkeley (510) 642-8308
  • California Association for the Gifted- www.cagifted.org (562) 789-9933
  • Center for Talented Youth- Johns Hopkins University- (415) 516-0245 or (310) 823-6370
  • Council for Exceptional Children- www.cec.spec.org (888)CEC-SPED
  • Enrichment Program for Gifted Youth- Stanford University- www.giftedandtalented.com (650)329-9920
  • Hoagies Gifted Education Paige- www.hoagiesgifted.org
  • Lyceum- http://www.lyceum-scv.org or write Lyceum P..O. Box 3236 Los Altos, CA 94024
  • National Association for Gifted Children-www.nagc.org (202)785-4268 Davidson Academy-P.O. Box 9119 Reno, Nevada 89507 (775) 682-5803
  • For Mensa members and parents of Mensa youth members: mensaforkids.org

Books

  • Gifted Children– Ellen Winner
  • Misdiagnosis– James Webb et al
  • The Optimistic Child– Seilgman
  • Smart Girls Two– Barbara Kerr
  • Smart Boys– Barbara Kerr and Sanford Cohen
  • The Social and Emotional Lives of Gifted Kids– Tracy Cross
  • Five Levels of Gifted-Deborah Ruff, Ph.D.