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Talking about gifted children’s abilities

1-16 years

Talking about your gifted child’s abilities can be tricky, but it gets easier with time and practice. You might start with your partner first and then talk to family and friends.

Talking with your partner about your gifted child

If you have a partner, talking together about your child’s abilities can make parenting easier. It can also help you to stay connected and to make any decisions about your child.

If you’re separated and co-parenting, it’s a good idea to keep your ex-partner up to date on what’s happening with your child.

There’ll be times when you need to talk and make decisions. These times include when:

We have to take time sometimes to really understand and meet Marco’s needs, and we benefit from doing that together because we see things differently.
– Father of Marco (five years)

Preparing to talk
Talking about your child might be a regular part of your relationship with your partner or ex-partner. If you don’t always get along with your partner or ex-partner, you might need to talk more formally about your child’s abilities.

When you’re ready you could:

  • make a time and organise a babysitter
  • gather information – for example, a brochure from an association for gifted and talented children or records and results from child care, preschool or school
  • practise what you’ll say to your partner or ex-partner – this could be out loud or by making notes.

You could start by talking about how your child’s development compares with other children his age. For example, ‘Aaron talks in full sentences and uses complex words. The other children his age at playgroup are talking, but they only use a few words’.

Another way to start is to ask your partner or ex-partner about your child’s strengths. For example, ‘What do you think Mara is good at?’ This can make it easier to talk about the strengths that carers or teachers have noticed or the results of formal or informal identification.

Keep communicating with your partner or ex-partner as new questions come up. For example, ‘How will we support our child’s learning needs?’ or ‘Do we want to make any changes to our family life?’

You or your partner or ex-partner might be unsure about the label ‘gifted’, and whether you’ll use it when you’re talking with and about your child.

Or you and your partner might disagree about your child’s abilities or there might be conflict with your ex-partner about choosing a gifted program. Try to work together on solutions. If you can talk respectfully and listen to each other, you’ll be showing your child a healthy way to deal with problems.

Talking to others about your child’s gifted abilities

Parents of gifted children often don’t talk to other people about their child’s abilities, because they worry about what other people might think about their child, them and their approach to parenting.

It might be harder for you and the parents of children the same age to share experiences because of your child’s abilities and development. You might find that you get along better with parents of other gifted children because you can learn from each other.

Talking with your family about your child’s abilities might be easier and can be a really good idea. Family members can help you keep up with your gifted child’s need for new experiences – for example, an aunt, uncle or grandparent might be able to take your child to activities and events. You might even find out about gifted family members who share interests and abilities with your child.

When you’ve got a gifted child, only certain people want to hear that your child has achieved something. I can ring my mum and say, ‘I can’t believe she just learned fractions in five minutes’.
– Mother of a gifted daughter (five years)

Preparing to talk
When you’re talking to family and friends about your child’s abilities, you might share a little at a time and answer any questions people have. For example, ‘Ayu has been accepted into the gifted program at school’, or ‘Dom does advanced maths with the Year 5 class on Wednesdays’.

You can choose how much information you share – for example, you might keep the results of an IQ test private but discuss your child’s school results.

You might talk about your child’s abilities when you’re choosing a school or when someone makes a comment – for example, ‘She seems much older than she actually is’. You might say, ‘Yes, she’s very interested in biology. I’m looking at schools with gifted programs that can help her learn more’.

I don’t use the word gifted very often. I might say, ‘She’s really good at reading’, and leave it up to other people to work out how good she is at reading.
– Mother of a gifted child (five years)

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Last updated or reviewed
25-06-2015

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Raising Children Network is supported by the Australian Government. Member organisations are the Parenting Research Centre and the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute with The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child Health.

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