Should I Talk With My Child About Giftedness?
Parents of a child with gifts and talents should help their child to develop self-awareness and a positive self-concept. Supportive parents recognize a child’s strengths and abilities, and help their children to do the same. However, it is important that children feel valued and loved not because of their accomplishments and intelligence but because of who they are.
Parents should be cautious about praising a child for his or her innate abilities. Instead, parents should give specific praise to children for effort, problem-solving, solution seeking and incremental growth. This is because a child who hears her parents’ constant praise for being “smart” may feel that she has to continually demonstrate this to earn approval. Moreover, a child who intelligence is an unchangeable trait may develop a “fixed mindset,” believing that talent and “smarts” should be enough for success rather than hard work and effort.
In contrast, a child who develops a “growth mindset” understands that abilities, skills, and understanding grows with increased effort, practice, and perseverance. A child who develops a growth mindset will be more likely to embrace challenge and risk, recognizing that mistakes as a part of the learning process.
For additional information on growth mindset, see Carol Dweck’s The New Psychology of Success (2008). A helpful resource for parents and educators about the unique social emotional needs of gifted children is The Social and Emotional Development of Gifted Children: What Do we Know (2nd edition) by Maureen Neihart, Steven Pfeiffer and Tracy Cross (2016).
-Patricia Steinmeyer (IAGC Education Committee, Co-Chair)