Want your children to succeed? Then dial back on trying to “rescue” them.

As a gifted child mom, I know how much you want to provide every opportunity for your bright children. They may learn quickly and with little repetition. They may be artistic or play a musical instrument before they even started school.

But ask yourself honestly. Do you let your children struggle and persist? If they stumble on a word or a math problem, how quick do you jump in with the answer? I am admitting, this is my greatest weakness as a parent and as a teacher. I always wanted to help too much.

This week, I babysat my grandchildren. We had a new 48 piece puzzle of the Avengers. I tore open the package and explained that with so many pieces, it would help to find the edges and do them first. I fumbled around and put 3-4 pieces together before I had to leave the table and help my two year old grand daughter with her baby doll across the room. I was only across the room a few minutes, but when I came back to the table, the 5 year old sat there, with a perfectly completed puzzle. It was the look on his face- the sense of accomplishment- his calm and satisfied look that reminded me- it was his puzzle to solve, not mine.

My daughter says he is really good at puzzles. I am not. I need the edges to form a frame before I can figure out how the puzzle goes together. That did not mean that he needed that strategy. His visual perception of patterns and colors helped him put the puzzle together much faster than he would have with my help.

Children develop what teachers call “learned helplessness”. If we interfere too much, they will let you do everything for them. You doing it yourself seems to make you happy, and children want to please their moms.

A curious child may give up that curiosity if you are the one who always solves the problem. Why try? Even worse, what if your highly sensitive gifted child perceives your help as being somehow because you think he/she is not smart/good/clever enough to do it on his or her own?

Whether it is a 5 year old with a puzzle, or a 12 year trying to balance an Algebraic equation, help by asking questions rather than finding the answer yourself. Allow think time. Count to 15 after you ask a question to give the child time to think and answer. Help your child if they ask, but usually the help they want is your attention and reassurance that they can be successful, not the actual answer.

You will be a better gifted child mom if you help your child persist and build his/her problem solving skills instead of making things too easy.

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