Talk about girl power, raising a gifted daughter is an honor that presents its own set of challenges. Little girls are just as likely to be labeled gifted as little boys, but the number of men who are determined to be gifted is far higher than the number of gifted women. It's up to you to identify and foster those special sparks of excellence to raise your gifted girl into a successful woman.
Diagnosing Gifted Girls
Gifted is a loaded label. Depending on who you ask, it could mean anything from a child prodigy to a student who needs extra attention in the classroom. The National Association for Gifted Children identifies gifted children as those who demonstrate outstanding levels of aptitude or competence in one or more areas of expertise. Children can be considered gifted in areas such as math, science, language, painting, dance or sports. But they typically perform in the top 10 percent or higher compared to their peers.
Because gifted children are advanced, they need to be constantly challenged. Gifted children often process things with a deeper emotion or intensity than other children, according to giftedjourney.com. Sometimes they are more sensitive, and in girls this can be construed as shyness. They ask a lot of questions, and they can get bored easily if they are not constantly learning new things and pushing boundaries. Parents should learn as much as they can, so they can help further the education of the gifted child. Talk to teachers about the needs of your gifted daughter, but also remember that they are children who need time to play outside or be silly with friends.
Gifted Girls vs. Boys
Gifted girls cope differently than gifted boys and often hide their gifted abilities to fit in with their peers. Girls tend to be more social when they are young, and as they progress through their preteen and teenage years, their appearance and sociability is valued over their intelligence, according to the Gifted Development Center. It is important to highlight their intelligence and foster natural gifted abilities in girls, so that their talents are not overlooked. Although in early childhood and elementary school gifted boys and girls are equal in number, by adolescence gifted boys outnumber gifted girls. Those girls don't cease to exist, but instead issues with self-esteem and peer pressure to look cool instead of appear intelligent may overshadow their gifted abilities. In one study, gifted boys were found to be funny and the most popular while gifted girls were seen as least popular and sad.
Tools for Success
Identifying and encouraging gifted abilities early is the key to raising a successful gifted girl. Help her form friendships with other gifted students and show her examples of successful women as role models. Encourage her to be independent and take risks, and introduce her to games that challenge her gifted abilities rather than conforming to gender stereotypes. Be an example for your own daughter. Girls learn how to be women from the women in their lives. Teach her to value her gifted abilities over her physical appearance. Dads play a role as well by setting the same expectations for their sons as they do their daughters. And work with her teachers to ensure she is receiving the tools she needs to cultivate those gifted abilities.