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Parenting Effectively
Guiding a Gifted Child

Gifted children have unique social and emotional characteristics, which can put them at risk for certain problems. Identifying and understanding giftedness will help parents and teachers guide these special kids through childhood.

Defining Giftedness

A gifted person according to the National Association of Gifted Children is, "someone who shows, or has the potential for showing, an exceptional level of performance in one or more areas of expression.” Some of these abilities are general and can affect a broad spectrum of the person's life, such as leadership skills or creativity. Some are very specific talents and are only evident in particular circumstances, such as an aptitude in mathematics, science, or music. The term giftedness provides a general reference to this spectrum of abilities without being specific or dependent on a single measure or index. It is generally recognized that approximately five percent of the student population, or three million children, in the United States are considered gifted.

Children can be considered gifted if they excel in the following areas:

  • General intellectual ability or talent.
  • Specific academic aptitude or talent.
  • Creative and productive thinking.
  • Leadership ability.
  • Visual and performing arts.

How do I know if my child is gifted?

One place to start is to have your child’s IQ scored. An IQ over 130 is usually an indication of superior intelligence or giftedness. However, it is just one way to identify giftedness. Others measurements include: school achievement, creative behaviors, and parent and teacher evaluations. So it is possible to be gifted in a creative sense and not have an IQ score above 130. Parents should also be aware that an IQ score is not a sacred, unchangeable number.

Observations by parents and teachers are an important factor in identifying gifted children. The following typical intellectual characteristics are things you can look for:

  • Unusually large vocabularies for their age
  • Ability to read earlier than most children, often before entering school
  • Greater comprehension of the subtleties of language
  • Longer attention span, persistence and intense concentration
  • Ability to learn basic skills more quickly and with less practice
  • Wide range of interests
  • Highly developed curiosity and a limitless supply of questions
  • Interest in experimenting and doing things differently
  • Tendency to put ideas of thing together in ways that are unusual and not obvious (divergent thinking)
  • Ability to retain a great deal of information
  • Unusual sense of humor

To get a thorough and realistic appraisal of your child’s potential, parents may decide to have an individual intellectual and achievement evaluation by a qualified psychologist. Dr. Kathy Marshack can help you. She is accepting new clients and has two office locations for your convenience. If you live in the Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington area (or can drive to these locations) please call to set up your first appointment. See Therapy FAQs for more information. Please give us a call at (360) 256-0448 or (503) 222-6678 or email us at info@kmarshack.com.

Educate Yourself about Giftedness
After identifying your child as gifted it is critical that you educate yourself. Gifted children are fundamentally different and they need their parents and teachers help to learn the social, interpersonal and self-development skills to relate to the rest of humanity. Take specific steps to help your gifted child become positively motivated, to encourage desirable behaviors and to help them develop a good self-concept.

By doing this you can understand and perhaps even avoid some common problems gifted children commonly face such as a lack of motivation, boredom, perfectionism, cynicism and even depression. Encourage, nurture, stimulate, and challenge your child. Give him or her the freedom to experience the natural consequences of their behaviors. In this way you will help them to know, trust and value themselves.