Gifted Children-Getting the Balance Right
One of the challenges for parents with a gifted child is to encourage them to develop a range of interest outside the academic sphere that not only rounds them out but stops them from being isolated from their peers.
Gifted children are a diverse group of kids who are talented in specific areas such as mathematics, language, sport or music. Some gifted kids are mutli-talented excelling in a variety of areas.
Gifted children tend to be passionate and single-minded about their interests focusing their energy on the topics that absorb them, often to the exclusion of other activities.
Just as all children need to have a balanced diet to remain in good health they need a balance between work and play to make sure they develop good social networks and maintain emotional health. That means that parents need to guide these children towards leisure-time options that they wouldn't normally consider.
Balance for gifted children doesn't necessarily mean that they spend an equal amount of time in every area but making sure that they don't become isolated as a result of their gift. Parents may need to be part social director gently insisting that children set aside time for play and other social activities. The courage to be imperfect
Gifted children are often low risk-takers in areas or endeavors that are not their passions or strengths. Used to automatically excelling they fear doing things poorly so exceptionally capable children can be reluctant to attempt unknown or different tasks. Often exceptional kids give up when they are not automatically good at something. It takes some personal courage to step into the unknown and actually attempt tasks where they don't automatically excel or feel that they can control.
It helps to be direct with these children about their perfectionism. Discuss with them that it is normal to be strong in some areas but not as capable in others. Also these children need to understand that learning in areas they feel uncomfortable can take much longer and require more effort than they are used to. It can be quite a shock for talented kids to find that something doesn't come easily to them!
Peers have a strong influence on gifted children, encouraging them to try new activities and move away from their passions for a while. Parents need to take an active role in encouraging peer group interactions - organizing joint play sessions with young children and providing extra-curricular activities for school-aged children. Often children become less involved in solitary activities when they begin to interact with their peers who exert a strong influence on their activity preferences.
by Michael Grose
Michael Grose is Australia's leading parenting educator. He is the author of six books and gives over 100 presentations a year and appears regularly on television, radio and in print. For further ideas to help you raise happy children and resilient teenagers visit http://www.parentingideas.com.au.