Dealing with the rollercoaster of children’s emotions is difficult whether the child is gifted or not. We all experience the terrible twos, threenagers etc. However, disciplining a gifted child comes with some unique challenges in my experience. I’ve captured some of my thoughts on this by using some key themes below.
- Fairness: This has been a reoccurring theme in the various meltdowns, usually perceived vs actual levels of fairness. I laughed with a fellow parent the other day when he said he tells his baby off just to present a level of fairness between his 6-year-old and the baby, but it resonated so strongly with me as a necessary evil. It is slightly illogical to think that children should be told off the same amount if their behaviours are fundamentally different but that does not register in an otherwise logical brain. Which brings me to the next point.
- Logic: They can either do two things, abandon logic altogether for a more emotional reaction to a situation or use logic to argue their way out of a situation. “Because I said so” or trying to outsmart them doesn’t cut it. It is important to demonstrate that there is reasoning involved in your thinking in an attempt to bring them round. It is also important to realise that they are extremely sensitive and may need time to work through any emotional episodes.
- Rules are a no no – unless they are involved in making them. My gifted child believed that rules were optional/should not exist, so I got ahead of this by getting her involved in the rule making process, discussing consequences at the same time. We have also discussed social responsibility and rules of communities and how there are rules in every part of life.
- Perfectionism – leading to non-attempts or feelings of failure can cause internal conflict with external repercussions. I remember the first time my daughter got a word wrong on her spelling test; on a word she spells regularly. I enquired what had happened in the test and it cause a 20-minute meltdown, with lots of expressions of failure. I now don’t ask about the tests but have separate conversations about mistakes and that all great inventions came from numerous failures and I hear those sentiments played back to me whenever a mistake is made now, well on most occasions anyway, there is still the odd meltdown!
I try to remember that there is a lot of self-disciplining that occurs for her, so it is also important to counter this sometimes with reassurance and praise. Praise the process rather than the results and be patient.
Overall, I look at discipline as opportunities for growth on my side and hers and imagine my methods will evolve the older she gets.