Parenting talented kids means encouraging them to expand their horizons. This may sound simple on the surface, but raising gifted kids means raising their expectations of the world around them. For example, the child who loves to read may prefer to do that and nothing else, but the singular occupation is not healthy by itself.
Talented children are diverse in their talents and interests. Their energy is boundless when it is focused in their area of specialty whether it is creative arts, language, athletics, music or math. They devour opportunities to explore what they are passionate about, but it is up to their parents to guide them towards a more well-rounded selection of activities, hobbies and experiences. As much as a child may rather read about horses in their books, they should experience the feel of petting a horse or riding one as well.
Donald Hebb, a psychologist who specialized in learning theory, stressed the advantage of a stimulating and enriched environment on the young and developing mind. He believed that complex learning in later life was only possible when the mind was exposed to a wide variety of stimuli while it was young. Parents may find that guiding their children to a more balanced palate of activities is much like encouraging vegetables at dinner, but ultimately it’s just as good for them.
Every child possesses strengths and weaknesses. Parents raising gifted kids with specialized talents need to recognize how they can use that talent in other ways. The artistic child may be asked to illustrate a feeling and then write a few words about it. The verbal child may be asked to recite a memory or an experience. The mathematically inclined child may be challenged to create a balanced structure from blocks.
This utilizes their talents, while teaching new forms of expression. Exploration into other areas can be guided through use of their particular strengths or talents. The writer, for example, who loves to read stories, may be challenged to create one of their own. One particularly useful parenting skill is the ability to create an atmosphere of make believe for the child who has trouble seeing past the reality of situations.
The realist who wants to know how everything works is probably one of the more difficult parenting challenges. They do not believe in the wonder of a situation, unless they can dissect the facts of it. This is the child that understands the concept of special effects in films to create the magical illusions. Challenging them to construct the illusion in their own minds and demonstrating it can lead to new ideas.
Raising gifted kids means raising their expectations and experience. It means opening their eyes to the world around them. If that means taking the artist to the zoo and encouraging her to draw the animals that she sees while sharing the details she notes about them, then that is but one example of using their strengths to help them see more of the world. Children need to risk growing; gifted stars need to dare to dream to be great.
Tip: Don’t let your talented kid say can’t because an activity is beyond what they are used to doing, despite their usual success, the ability to attempt the unknown is far more valuable to their development than constant success.