Talking about your gifted child with your partner or child’s other parent
There’ll be times when you and your partner, or your child’s other parent if you’re co-parenting, need to talk and make decisions about your gifted and talented child. For example:
- You’re thinking about formal or informal identification of your child’s gifts and talents.
- Your child has just been identified as gifted and you’re deciding what to do next.
- Your gifted child is starting child care, preschool or school.
- You’re considering how to support your child’s learning and development.
We have to take time sometimes to really understand and meet Marco’s needs, and we benefit from doing that together because we see things differently.
– Father of Marco (5 years)
Gifted children: issues to discuss with your partner or child’s other parent
If you think your child might be gifted, you and your partner or your child’s other parent might need to start by talking about your child’s development and how it compares with other children of the same age. For example, ‘Aaron talks in full sentences and uses complex words. The other children his age at playgroup only use a few words’ or ‘Marley has been invited to try out for the state athletics team’. This can help you work out what to do next.
Another issue to discuss is your child’s abilities. For example, ‘What do you think Mara is good at?’ You can compare the strengths you’ve both noticed with strengths that carers or teachers have noticed or the results of formal or informal identification. This can help you work out what you can do to support your child’s learning and development.
New questions will probably come up as your child develops. For example, ‘Do we need to look at specialised cricket coaching for Charlie?’ or ‘Should Riley go to the same school as her sister?’ Or you or your partner or ex-partner might be unsure about the word ‘gifted’, and whether you’ll use it when you’re talking with and about your child.
You might also want to talk about anything that affects your family life – for example, how to balance the needs of all your children.
You might disagree about your child’s abilities or there might be conflict about choosing a gifted program. Try to work together on solutions. If you can talk respectfully and listen to each other, you’re more likely to come up with options that meet your child’s needs.
If you’re separated and co-parenting, or if you don’t always get along with your partner, you might need to talk more formally about your child’s abilities. You could find someone you both trust and ask them to help – for example, a family or school counsellor, or a friend who can be objective.
Talking to family and friends about your gifted child’s abilities
Parents of gifted children often don’t talk to other people about their child’s abilities, because they worry about what other people might think about their child, them and their approach to parenting.
It might be harder for you and parents of children the same age to share experiences because of your child’s abilities and development. You might find that you can relate more to parents of other gifted children because you can learn from each other.
Talking with your family about your child’s abilities might be easier and can be a really good idea. Family members often notice children’s gifts anyway, and they can help you keep up with your gifted child’s need for new experiences. For example, an aunt, uncle or grandparent might be able to take your child to activities and events. You might even find out about gifted family members who share interests and abilities with your child.
When you’ve got a gifted child, only certain people want to hear that your child has achieved something. I can ring my mum and say, ‘I can’t believe she just learned fractions in 5 minutes’.
– Mother of a gifted daughter (5 years)
What to say to family and friends about your gifted child
When you’re talking to family and friends about your child’s abilities, you might share a little at a time and answer any questions people have. For example, ‘Ayu is competing in a national dance competition’, or ‘Dom does advanced maths with the Year 5 class on Wednesdays’.
You can choose how much information you share. For example, you might keep the results of an IQ test private but discuss your child’s school results.
You might talk about your child’s abilities when you’re choosing a school or when someone makes a comment – for example, ‘Yes, she’s very creative. I’m looking at schools that focus on the arts, so she can learn more’.
I don’t use the word gifted very often. I might say, ‘She’s really good at reading’, and leave it up to other people to work out how good she is at reading.
– Mother of a gifted child (5 years)