Being the parent of a gifted child can be a challenging, yet exciting experience. The idea of being “gifted” is usually seen as a positive thing. However, according to the National Association for Gifted Children, “because gifted children demonstrate greater maturity in some domains over others, they may be at a greater risk for specific kinds of social-emotional difficulties."
These difficulties include anxiety, perfectionism, stress, heightened awareness, issues with peer relationship, and concerns with identity and fit, with the NAGC approximating 3 – 5 million academically gifted children in grades K-12 in the U.S (about 6-10% of the student population).
With such a large “gifted” population, it is important for parents to model “good” social skills and behavior to these students.
The “Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted” organization website states the warning signs parents need to look out for: “You may want to consult with a professional if your child displays any of the following behaviors: your child doesn’t have a friend; plays too aggressively; is easily upset or quickly becomes angry or bossy; doesn’t share or respect others’ property; doesn’t get along well in group situations; rarely compromises; shows little empathy for others’ feelings; acts discourteously.”
To help counteract these behaviors, parents should create clear and realistic house rules that both child and parent respect. If your child is upset, recognize his/her feelings, so that he/she may learn how to do so independently. For instance, if your child is crying, say “I see that you’re upset and crying. What would you like to do to make it better?” By consciously acknowledging a child’s feelings, parents afford the opportunity to teach their child about understanding his/her emotions and how to deal with them in a social context.
It is also important to “Talk to your child about right and wrong…Talk about the value of understanding another person’s thoughts, feelings and intentions (empathy). Don’t preach, but rather, engage your child in Socratic dialogues at a level that he or she can understand,” according to Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted.
Ultimately, the goal is to help these gifted individuals understand themselves and how to interact with the world, so that they may build healthy and even lasting relationships with others. Other support gruops are listed below.
IAGC: The Illinois Association of Gifted Children
Gifted Child Society
GPGC: The Governor’s Program for Gifted Children
SENG: Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted
National Association for Gifted Children
Mensa for Kids
Institute for Research and Policy on Acceleration
Center for Talented Youth