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Parenting the Above Average Child

gifted Image

Article contributed by guest author, Abigail McCarrel, LCSW, DCSW.

If you’re the parent of a gifted child, you may be challenged with a unique set of circumstances. Your gifted child might be mentally above average, but have difficulty interacting with their peers; they may be immature, impatient, or easily bored. Your friends and family may look on in awe at your child’s abilities, blissfully unaware of the difficulties you face on a daily basis. Here are four tips to help you parent your above average son or daughter.

1. Have Your Child Assessed

Although testing shouldn’t be the sole source of identifying a gifted student, tests are a good way to identify a gifted learner. Contact your school to have your child assessed for gifted classes or programs. Since there are no national guidelines for identifying gifted students, your school district will have its own standards. You can also have your child tested by a licensed psychologist experienced with gifted children.

2. Find Programs for Gifted Students

Your school district may have special programs or classes for gifted students. Search online or check with your local library for special classes or groups. You might even consider taking your child to a class or seminar that would interest them. This will give you special alone time with your child as well as help entertain and educate your gifted son or daughter. Finding special programs may require additional time and travel on your part.  It will, however, provide your child with unique learning opportunities that will benefit them for a lifetime.

3. Help Them Improve Social Skills

While it’s important to help your gifted child in their search for knowledge, it’s sometimes easy to forget that it’s equally important to nurture their social and emotional development. Provide your child with opportunities to interact with their peers. Contact their school or the local park or community center to find out about social or interest groups that would benefit your child, or talk to other parents for recommendations.

4. Have Realistic Expectations

When you have a gifted learner for a child, you may come to always expect their extraordinary achievement and ease in learning. However, this is not realistic; your child may be gifted with math, but have more difficulty with reading and writing, or vice versa. It’s important to maintain reasonable expectations. These expectations may also include their behavior. Despite their amazing ability to learn, your son or daughter is still a child, and will not necessarily have the emotional maturity to match their intellectual maturity. Recognize and acknowledge your child’s strengths, and be patient and supportive when they need extra help.


About the Author:

S. Abigail McCarrel, LCSW, DCSW, is a licensed, clinical social worker and family therapist. She currently maintains a family therapy practice in Arcadia, California. She has a unique therapy approach, offering In-Home sessions in the communities surrounding Arcadia. During these challenging times, she has pivoted her In-Home sessions online, for everyone’s safety. Mrs. McCarrel works closely with parents of challenging children, specializing in giftedness. 

Mrs. McCarrel holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Kalamazoo College where she graduated Phi Betta Kappa and Magnum Cum Laude. She received her master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Southern California. In addition to being licensed in the state of California, Mrs. McCarrel holds a diplomate credential in clinical social work, the highest level of credentialing available through the National Association of Social Workers.