Gifted teenagers may face many tough challenges.

Dealing With a Gifted Teenager

by Elizabeth Nuttall

A gifted teenager is one who excels in one or more subject areas; this may be in both academic and non-academic subjects. Being the parent of a gifted teenager is viewed by some as a privilege. People may assume that they are lucky to have a teen who is gifted and that they face no problems in their educational or personal lives. Dealing with a gifted teenager brings its own challenges, however, and there are a variety of different ways that parents can deal with these.

Recognizing the Challenges

According to an article published on the website of SENG -- Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted -- gifted teenagers often have problems coping with being gifted. It is important as a parent to recognize what these difficulties are and to support your child in coping with them. Problems may include denial of their ability, premature identity, competitiveness, perfectionism, risk-taking and impatience. By recognizing which of these difficulties your gifted teenager is facing, you can help her to develop coping strategies.

Parents as Advocates

One way that parents can help their teenager to cope with being gifted is to act as her advocate. Psychotherapist Elizabeth Donovan, writing on the website of Psychology Today, says it is important for parents to act as an advocate for their teen both academically and socially. It is common for parents of gifted teens to focus entirely on the academic successes of their child and to forget about their social development. It is important, however, that you strive to help your child achieve equal success socially. One way of doing this is to encourage him to attend groups and classes for teens of the same age who have similar interests.

Supporting Perfectionist Tendencies

Many gifted children and teenagers are perfectionists. This can be viewed as both a strength and a weakness of their personality. On the one hand, it means that they strive to complete tasks to their best of their abilities at all times. On the other hand, they put pressure on themselves to be perfect; their perfectionism then leads to obsessive behavior, which then leads them to punish themselves for what they perceive to be failure. An article published by Rhode Island Advocates for Gifted Education states that, if you can acknowledge whether the perfectionism is a strength or weakness in your teen's personality, you can adapt your parenting accordingly to support your child. This requires steering him toward the positive aspects of perfectionism, helping him to set realistic standards for himself and helping him cope with frustration when he perceives himself to have performed badly.

Communicating with Teachers

Finally, parents can support a gifted teenager by communicating regularly and effectively with their teachers. This will ensure that both the school and the parents are supporting the student in the most appropriate way, working toward the same goals and alerting each other to any problems that arise. This, in turn, will support your child in reaching her full potential.

About the Author

After a 12-year career in education, Elizabeth Nuttall became a professional writer in 2010. Her areas of expertise include parenting, education, celebrations, entertainment, health and the social sciences.

Photo Credits

  • Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images