Conventional discipline tactics often backfire when dealing with gifted children.

How to Discipline a Gifted Child

by Tiffany Raiford

You are proud of your gifted toddler to no end. She is smart, funny and she’s got this intensely emotional manner that sets her apart from most of her classmates. Of course, she’s a toddler, so that means she’s occasionally a pint-sized little terror who misbehaves in daycare and makes you want to pull out your hair. But you understand that your gifted toddler thinks and feels differently than other children. That is because gifted children often experience behavioral problems when they are not intellectually stimulated; the things that keep other children occupied likely bore your child. This makes disciplining her a bit of a challenge from time to time, and though exasperating, the task is not an impossible one.

1 Talk to your toddler about his behavior problems. A gifted child might be misbehaving for different reasons than other children, and to adequately discipline your child, you must understand the cause of his poor behavior. He may simply be bored at preschool because the lessons are not challenging his gifted mind. Talk to him about appropriate behaviors in various situations to prevent further behavioral problems.

2 Discuss boundaries and rules with your gifted child. She is a smart kid, so she understands you. She may be more likely to manipulate you into not wanting to discipline her when her behavior is unacceptable, but setting clear boundaries and rules will help prevent that from happening. To do this, you must always take action when she misbehaves. Be consistent; she must always face the consequences. She’s gifted, but she’s still a child who needs structure and parental control.

3 Halt poor behavior by removing things from your child’s life that make him happy. For example, if he loves to play on the computer or tablet, confiscate it from him for a specific period of time when he misbehaves. If he loses out on something he enjoys because he did not behave appropriately, he will learn quickly to curb his negative behavior. Just don’t ask him for help downloading a new app since he’s probably much better with electronics than you.

4 Understand that your gifted child may be more sensitive to things than other children. She may not understand that the world is not always kind or fair, which means she may act out when someone reprimands her for misbehaving or when another child says or does something unkind to her. While you understand that this is par for the course with a gifted child, the outside world might consider her behavior inappropriate. Try to tell her as simply as possible that the world is not always perfect and she has to learn to handle upsets in a more appropriate manner. Provide her with an example of a better way to handle the situation that is appropriate for her sensitivity.

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