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How to Support Your Gifted Child

Gifted Parenting and Strategies

How to Support Your Gifted Child

Recognizing and fostering your child’s exceptional abilities requires a blend of understanding, patience, and strategy. That’s why we created this guide; it’s crafted to be your beacon through the formative years of your child’s life, from elementary through high school. We aim to empower you with thoughtful insights and in-depth resources, so you can help your gifted child to the best of your ability. After all, your support is essential to nurturing their giftedness as well as building their self-confidence. 

What does successful support look like?

Here are three core facets of successful support, each of which is a cornerstone in cultivating a gifted child’s potential: 

  • Educational development
  • Social development
  • Emotional development

Successful support from a parent involves a holistic approach that addresses all of these areas. You should adapt to your child’s changing needs as they grow, ensuring a balanced development that prepares them for a fulfilling life. Let’s take a closer look at where you can make the most impact in helping your gifted child thrive.

Educational Development

It’s no surprise that one way you can be your child’s biggest champion is when it comes to their educational development. There are several factors to this:

  • Gifted testing & assessment
  • Their academic environment
  • Participation in extracurricular activities

First, let’s focus on gifted testing and assessment. There are two types of tests available to confirm giftedness: achievement tests and abilities tests. The former relates to standardized tests that measure a child’s knowledge in a subject area (including the ACT or SAT) whereas the latter evaluates their cognitive abilities or IQ. Another difference between these two types of tests is that abilities tests are administered by a trained professional in education, psychology, or social work. Scores from each type of test will help your child gain entry into gifted programs, such as Explore (for ages 9-13) and Davidson Academy.

After being tested and confirming their giftedness, another way you can help your gifted child is by ensuring they’re in the right academic environment. Traditional school settings lack the personalized curriculum gifted students need. They also group students by age instead of knowledge, whereas gifted students unlock their full potential when grouped by ability. Seek out and enroll your child in gifted programs to ensure they’re getting the most from their schooling. 

You may be wondering, “Well, school is out. What can I do now?” Many schools developed specifically for the profoundly gifted have extracurricular activities, events, and programs for your gifted child to participate in during school breaks. Here are a few Davidson Institute summer offerings: STARS Summer Camp (for ages 8-11), REACH Summer Seminar (for ages 11-13), and THINK Summer Institute (for ages 13-16). Being around like-minded individuals during breaks can help stimulate your child’s education while building meaningful relationships. 

Social Development

That leads us to the importance of your child’s social development. As a parent of a profoundly gifted child, you may be familiar with the balance of nurturing their intellect while also supporting their social growth. Gifted children often experience unique challenges in navigating friendships, managing social anxieties, and finding their place among peers. It’s essential to approach these aspects of their development with care and proactive support.

Emphasizing the Significance of Friendships

Gifted children often struggle to find like-minded peers due to their unique interests and advanced abilities. Encourage their participation in gifted cohorts, extracurricular activities, and community groups like the ones we mentioned earlier. This helps them connect with peers who share their passions. 

Additionally, as a parent, your support in their extracurricular activities and social life helps promote self-expression and confidence. Want some resources to get started? Take a look into our resources for families navigating their gifted child’s friendships.

Encouraging Peer-to-Peer Communication

Your family environment plays a crucial role in shaping your child’s social experiences. While maintaining a positive relationship with your gifted child is vital, it’s equally essential to encourage healthy peer interactions. Encourage your child to choose peers who enjoy learning, as it will increase their academic motivation and boost their confidence.

Learn more about common social adjustments you can help your gifted child with throughout elementary, middle, and high school. 

Understanding and Managing Anxiety

Social anxiety is a common concern for gifted children, stemming from factors like heightened sensitivity, asynchronous development, perfectionism, and social isolation. Their environment plays a big part in developing or lessening social anxiety. Luckily, your support and behavior as a parent can help. Normalize discussions about anxiety and teach coping strategies that empower your child to navigate their emotions effectively. 

Emotional Development

Emotional regulation is a skill everyone benefits from. Understanding and helping your gifted child build skills in self-regulation will enhance their overall emotional development. Some examples include identifying and managing emotions, understanding others’ feelings, and establishing meaningful relationships. 

Recognizing where a child falls on the developmental ladder of emotional regulation is the first step in providing appropriate support. Start with the core competencies as outlined by organizations like The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL): self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. By providing structured support and opportunities for practice, parents can help gifted children develop the necessary emotional regulation skills for healthy social and emotional development.

And, should you need extra support, it’s okay to seek professional help. Therapy is a great resource for anyone, including gifted children. After exploration and careful consideration of which therapist your child will work with, it’ll be important for them to establish trust and rapport, ensuring they feel heard and respected. Look for professionals with appropriate training and a willingness to understand giftedness, as this knowledge is crucial in appropriately addressing your child’s needs. 

If you want more resources regarding the mental health of gifted children, see the following:


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Please note, the Davidson Institute is a non-profit serving families with highly gifted children. We will not post comments that are considered soliciting, mention illicit topics, or share highly personal information.

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