How Can You Help Your Gifted Pre-schooler

This was an article that I found a few months ago that helped me define what I was dealing with at home. The parts in bold are mine, link to complete article below for anyone interested (not pulling hair out since the rest of you seemed pretty comfortable where you are, lucky you!). I’ll be checking out for a while. Need a mental break from all my worries.

How Can You Help Your Gifted Pre-schooler?

This is one of the most common questions I’m asked by parents, and it’s an excellent one because there are very important things you can do during the toddler years, which will help your preschooler greatly.

The pre-school period is quite critical in a gifted child’s life. It’s the period when all children are learning insatiably about the world around them, including laying down the basis for their own future personality including their self-knowledge, self-confidence and self-esteem. This basis is like the foundation for a house; your child’s whole future personality and functioning in life will be based on it, and if it was damaged while being laid down it’s very difficult to repair later.

What does a child need during this period? It can be helpful to read Steve Biddulph’s books "The Secret of Happy Children", and "More Secrets of Happy Children", to get a feel for what’s going on during childhood. Although his books aren’t directly about gifted children, they can help us to understand the process which is going on as children develop. This is a constant process of observation of all aspects of the world around them, involving experimentation and interaction with it, followed by gradual development of "understanding" of that world, based on the feedback and messages the child gets. This especially includes all social interactions and experiences.

The Importance of the toddler years

Why is this period particularly important in the case of gifted children? The most important single thing that every gifted child needs is a firm and confident self-concept of his or her self as a gifted child, and a realistic understanding of what he or she can achieve and aspire to. The process of laying down this self-concept begins in babyhood, and continues very strongly during toddlerhood. It then needs to be supported strongly through the school years, but if it’s not established strongly during the toddler years, it’s much harder to repair that later.

Gifted toddlers observe a wider sample of what’s going on around them, in more detail, and because of their intelligence, can extend and extrapolate, understanding more implications and ramifications of what they observe – in other words, the feedback they get from life all has more impact on them. Also, unless strong specific action is taken to prevent it, the socialisation they experience from other children and adults during this critical time, the toddler years, won’t usually be socialisation with children who are their intellectual peers, or adults who are used to interacting with gifted children. So the social feedback they get is mostly not likely to be appropriate for them, and quietly, often without anyone noticing anything, they can begin the processes which are seen in older children in the school years – underachieving in order to fit in socially, being confused that they don’t seem to fit in, and becoming either anxious or aggressive about that, depending on their personality – and deep inside, being very confused about who they are and where they do or don’t fit into the world.

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