Gifted Children: Are we pushing too hard?

The topic of "gifted children" sure hit a cord with many of you. My email box is loaded with questions. I'll try to answer as many of your questions as possible here on my blog. Read through some of these questions, and feel free to leave one of your own for the future.

Both my husband and I were in gifted programs in school and our 2 year old is already showing signs of being gifted as well. She can spell her first name, count to 10, identify colors and shapes and sort by multiple criteria such as "Show me the three yellow stars" or "8 red circles". We don't push her but we don't want her to waste this gift either. How do we know when to back off and when to proceed?  --Erika

I'm so glad you asked this question There is a line between pushing and nurturing. Your goal is to nurture your child's natural passions and interests.

1. Follow your child's lead.  Truly gifted toddlers are immensely curious. They usually hate the familiar (the same old stuff like flash cards). They love experimentation and once they find something that attracts them (a violin, the parts of an alarm clock, dinosaurs or rocks or whatever!) They are like little sponges and become intensely focused. You won't need to push. They pull you to that interest Find what turns your child on, not vice versa. Follow her lead.

2. Put down the flash cards and unplug those brainy baby tapes. There is not an ounce of research that proves they boost IQ. Nada! Besides those flash cards are instilling academic achievement not expanding intellect. They are not child-initiated, but parent driven. A gifted toddler needs rich experiences.

3. Talk and talk and talk. A fascinating study from Norway found that our eldest child almost always has a three point IQ edge over younger siblings. If the eldest dies the second sibling gets that edge. That means it's not genetics giving that edge but nurture! And the reason for that IQ lead is simply because we talk more to our eldest. So talk and talk and talk to your child. Once again follow your child's interests. Highly gifted gifted usually ask why why why again and again and again. So just answer your child's questions

Pushing centers on your interests. Nurturing follows your child's interests

Pushing aims at a packaged curriculum. Nurturing instills a love of learning and a quest for more knowledge by using real lessons

Pushing can set in motion a feeling of being pressured and a potential risk for emotional problems Watch out. Gifted children are very sensitive. It also can turn off a child to a love of learning because it's too parent directed

More Q&As about gifted children:

  1. Are we pushing too hard?
  2. Should she go to public or private school?
  3. Should I even bother labeling my child as gifted?
  4. Why are parents embarrassed of having smart kids?
  5. How can I boost my child's academic confidence?


12Secrets_Borba.jpgDr. Michele Borba is the author of over 22 books including 12 Simple Secrets Real Moms Know .

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