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Identifying and nurturing gifted children 

by Salaamedia Intern

Parents can often be filled with panic and lose a sense of direction when identifying or nurturing gifted children. Unlike most aspects of parenthood, a routine response might not be the answer as the child is gifted 24/7. Meaning they are permanently wired to think and be different compared to other children. Every parent requires guidance on how to identify and stimulate children of this extremely rare group.  

Parents often neglect the possibility of their child being gifted, because they aren’t aware of talents being either academic or natural. Dr Shirley Kokot, educational psychologist specialised in gifted children, describes gifted children as talented.  

“Most children have a talent of gifts, so it’s quite right that people might think their child is gifted in some other way. When we, in the academic field, talk about a different child, that is something quite different. That is not just a child who has a talent or an ability in some other way, we’re talking about something that goes far beyond the normal concept of ‘oh my child is intelligent’. We’re talking about children, rare children, you don’t find many of them. Maybe one or two percent of the population would fall into a gifted category, so these children have special needs because of their abilities.” 

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Signs of gifted children

Being able to notice whether a child is gifted, can be tricky. Every gifted child is different, so not all signs or symptoms may apply to your child. Signs a child may be gifted, beyond an above average IQ test, include the ability to pick up, learn or understand things from an early age. Gifted children are very inquisitive and ask a lot of questions, have excellent retention of information, they can become hyper focused to certain activities, early development of motor skills and they find satisfaction in finding new interests and learning new concepts.  

Caring and nurturing for gifted children needs different methods as they require special attention. Being a gifted child has effects such as being very emotional, not being able to fit in with their peers and having a low attention span in most instances because their brain is not being stimulated appropriately. 

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Stimulating and suppporting

When dealing with stimulating gifted children parents need to encourage them to do tasks they are not good at. This relieves the constant pressure they must succeed. Parents should feed their children’s curiosity with knowledge and can help enhance the child’s social skills. This tends to be a grey area for most gifted kids. Support your child’s emotions as they are prone to being very emotional and empathetic. Parents need to allow them to express their emotions. Encouraging your child to be inquisitive and ask questions about certain topics can be good.  

Making comparisons with other children should be avoided as gifted children already struggle with self-acceptance. Many parents are often delighted when hearing their child is gifted, but few understand what it means to be a parent to a gifted child. It requires their full support and attention. Not to mention a lot of sacrifices from the parents. It is important that all parents are well informed to care for their children in the correct manner.  Julie Allie in conversation with Dr Shirley Kokot.

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