A gifted child: Help your child find their spark

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Aldina Braganza

A child is special to their parents and rightly so. However, some children are gifted with extraordinary talents or gifts. This article is to bring to notice the uniqueness of your children who don’t fall in the normalcy curve of a parent’s expectations.

If you take all the children of the world and make them stand in hierarchy of their talents you will notice that every child will have to shift their position depending on the nature of talent. Some might be more superior in learning a language, while others might clock better on a race, while still others might be score better on a mathematical quiz.

There is no surprise to this kind of differences because we now understand that intelligence is just not how well we do in our exams which largely challenge the child on their cognitive skill. We now understand multiple intelligence.

A couple of decades ago, intelligence was what you score on an IQ test. But today this is a completely outdated idea and intelligence is seen in various spheres from your ability for movement (sports/dance) to your ability to think abstractly (designer/artist/architect) or how you relate to people (psychiatrist, psychotherapist, counsellor, HR and PR).

Every child is unique and has a special gift. A great parent understands this sooner than later and helps the child explore their best possible self.

And so, I would like to spend the next few minutes urging parents to understand the signs of giftedness in your child.

I would like to dedicate more to exceptional kids who belong to the fringes of excellence but do not get the opportunity to express themselves or be what their excellence can let them be, instead they end up trying to fit in and often end up dumbing their maximum. 

My article is to help you understand your gifted child and nurture their uniqueness.

Who is a gifted child?

Every child will move through the various developmental stages that compare them to the average developmental challenge. For example, the age when they learn to walk, speak or learn to tie their own shoelaces. The success of such achievements in early childhood is when the parent first notices that their child might belong to the extreme fringes of exceptional. Such an observation will be best seen if the child is given a plethora of activities to choose from.

Playing games is an excellent way to increase their opportunities to understand what they are good at. Unfortunately, what rules our environment is a cognitive bias. We measure children against each other with regards to only their ability to challenge each other cognitively. So, what we get at the end of the day are students with A+ and frustrated adults still trying to figure out what they want from life.

Today we understand that there are multiple levels of intelligence and measures of giftedness. There are verbal, mathematical, spatial-visual, musical and interpersonal abilities that your child could be gifted with.

Identifying that your child might be gifted is thus the first step to helping your child.

When you begin to feel that your child is showing some superior ability in any of these areas you need to further explore their potential. My advice to parents at this juncture is – do not limit this observation to only the defined areas but search for other abilities your child might possess like their relation to dealing with nature or animals or a camera for example or even it could be their reaction time.

Once you get the hunch that your child might be gifted, you need to find ways to challenge your child. Such children will need to be guided in a different way because they could get easily bored if they are not feeling challenged. They could even find clever ways to disrupt their surroundings like feeling bored in class and breaking rules so that they get some attention.

This is often a difficult time for parents because they don’t understand why their child is behaving in a disruptive fashion. It would be smart to involve teachers and other adults in this kind of challenge. If possible, the child’s ability could be tested to find out what level of advancement they already are at (A psychometric test that looks at multi-intelligence).

Parents need to involve the teachers and possibly tailor-make situations that might further help their child’s extraordinary ability. My personal experience with teaching gifted youngsters is that if they are not adequately challenged, they will feel restlessness and even sometimes behave in a delinquent manner.

Many times these youngsters are studying a completely wrong subject because their parents believe that a science subject is far superior to humanities or social science. Such children end up bunking so that they can participate in a literature festival or make a film documentary.

I urge you to have a heart-to-heart with your child and ask them what they would really like to do with their life or if they are young, then give them different opportunities to find out their unique spark.

(Writer is a clinical psychologist, psychotherapist, and officiating principal and associate professor at Carmel College for Women)