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Parenting a Gifted Child

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: Hi, I have a question about my daughter (6yr old). I am thinking about testing her intelligence in order to guide my parenting. I read many articles and pretty sure she is gifted (early development, highly sensitive, talking about wars, intense, motivated, fast learner, read well, writing paragraphs, dynamic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and more). I spoke to few psychologists and received very disappointing answers. They believe parenting should be nothing to do with a child's intelligence and believe a child is a child. My discipline/parenting should be as same as any other 6 yrs old child.

Now, how do I find a right expert who is specialized in gifted children? or Am I a crazy believer that my daughter is gifted? Am I going to spoil her because I follow parenting skills for a gifted child? It is really frustrating. Thanks.

A: If you feel that your girl has above average qualities, I am sure you are the best person to judge regardless of what others may say. Parents are sometimes able to observe abilities in their children that may not be very obvious to others. At her age, you can take a few standardized IQ test if you want to determine her level of intelligence and provide her with the necessary exposure.

Parenting is a universal issue to a certain extent; however, some children may need a little extra help and guidance compared to other. This is especially so for parent with special children, be it the mentally challenged or the highly gifted. Perhaps, what is meant by the psychologist is that attention should be equally given to children based on their individual needs and that it may not mean that parenting a gifted child is any different in universal issues such as disciplining. Having said that, the guidance may be a little different in the way parenting is done. This is based on the child's needs. If the child has heightened sensitivity, parents may need to be very careful in how the deal with the child's emotion, the kind of exposure given, the home environment, etc. It may be somewhat easier to deal with a child who may not be very sensitive. This in itself falls under the same umbrella, with some adjustment in the method of parenting.

Parenting is a very personal experience and no two children can be the same, even twins for that matter. There is a lot of trial and error involved here. What works for one child may be totally disastrous for another. As long as you stay within the limits of parenting, that is not giving too much or too little of anything, you should be fine whether your child is gifted or not. For example, discipline is very important for gifted children as they need to know boundaries. They can be quite manipulative and get their own way by merely reasoning out with adults. Parents may give in to their reasoning and then they get used to having it their way.

I would suggest that you read some books on parenting gifted children for some help and guidance in parenting your daughter. You may need to ask and look around for a good psychologist who specializes in gifted children to seek some advice in your area. An IQ test would help you determine her areas of strengths and weakness to guide you in providing her with the suitable educational materials. Best of luck!


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