Best Ways to Support the Gifted Teen
“OK . . . let’s be honest: you cannot force a reluctant teenager to do anything, at least not for long. Whether it’s to do more homework (or to not obsess about its completion); to begin to become more social (or to cut back on the dating circuit); or to start planning for one’s college future (or to forget thinking of Harvard in 8th grade), teens have their own personal agendas, many of which tie into their newly found senses of power and independence.” ~ Dr. James Delisle
The teen years can be some of the most daunting years for gifted children as well as their parents and teachers. Gifted, profoundly gifted (PG) and twice-exceptional (2E) teens face many challenges not experienced by their age-peers. They often face unreasonable expectations and mixed messages about their abilities from adults. Gifted teens can have a different view of life and the world than do their classmates. They may prefer to be with intellectual peers rather than age-peers.
There was no shortage of acknowledging challenges for gifted kids:
- There is nothing without challenge. Except learning, but he will never learn the way they want him to anyway. ~ Mona Chicks
- For us, I think the social and emotional issues are the biggest hurdles. ~Celi Trépanier
- My daughter is GT and basketball player. Was told she can’t be smart and a jock.Cliques can cause issues. She changed minds. ~Jodi Foreman
- Where to start? All of them. Peers, asynchrony, divergent interests, feeling more, BEING more. ~ Jen Merrill
We next turned our attention to asynchronous development as it had been mentioned several times at this point. Asynchronous development – many ages at once – can have a profound impact on their social lives. Jonathan Bolding, middle school teacher of gifted and talented students in Nashville, told us that an “inability to connect with same-age peers may lead to social isolation.” Although intellectually ready to handle more challenging academics, they may not be able to navigate the social scene as easily.
Our third question considered sleep deprivation … how do you get a gifted teen to turn off the lights? For the homeschoolers present, this did not seem as much of a problem as it did for those with kids in public schools where early starts to the day proved difficult for most teens. It was an issue that followed many teens into adulthood. Many suggestions were offered on ways to get a teen to sleep. According to Dr. Jim Delisle, “A gifted teen’s greatest enemy is lack of sleep. Sleep is often not considered a priority for gifted adolescents. Resultant crankiness, listlessness, general “unattractiveness” are a direct result of this lack of sleep. The teen mind is often in overdrive – try to find methods of relaxation.”
How best can adults support sensible risk-taking regarding education? Risk-taking is a huge component in creativity! Teens should not shy away from actions for fear of appearing ‘different’. They need to understand that being less than perfect is okay and not everyone is successful on the first attempt. (S. White) Learning to deal with failure and overcoming it are skills that can be learned during the teen years. Parents and teachers should both model how to cope with failure; be honest with their kids/students.
Many good strategies were discussed for developing self-advocacy in teens. Self-advocacy can be nurtured by allowing teens to experience natural consequences for their actions early on. Parents need to be less involved in ‘rescuing’ teens from academic issues and lend support to their teen. Jen Merrill suggested, “Start small. Encourage them to do things for themselves in public. Gradually work up to educational advocacy.”
The teen years can be a balancing act between ‘fitting in’ and intellectual authenticity with age-peers. It’s natural for teens to want to fit in with peer groups. Adults need to be understanding and give them some space to find their own way. Jeremy Bond, a parent, expressed it this way, “As with all teens, they should know you’ll always be there for support, but not to navigate things for them.” A transcript of this chat may be found at Storify.
This week, our sponsor GiftedandTalented.com gave away a scholarship for a 3-month subscription to their K-7 Math and Language Arts Combination Course. The winner was Virginia Pratt, a teacher of gifted and talented students in South Carolina. GiftedandTalented.com was born out of Stanford’s EPGY. EPGY was led by Professor Patrick Suppes and they are honored to continue his legacy. Virginia was able to answer the question – “During Patrick Suppes’ 64 years at Stanford, how many books did he publish?” (Answer: 34) Congratulations, Virginia and many thanks to GiftedandTalented.com!
Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented and sponsored by GiftedandTalented.com is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Fridays at 7E/6C/5M/4P in the U.S., Midnight in the UK and Saturdays 11 AM NZST/9 AM AEST to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our new Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.
About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime advocate for gifted children and also blogs at Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.
Posted on June 22, 2015, in gifted, gifted and talented, Teens, Twice-exceptional, Underachievement and tagged asynchronous development, Dr. James Delisle, education, EPGY, gifted, gifted and talented, GiftedandTalented.com, gtchat, intellectual authenticity, Patrick Suppes, self-advocacy, sleep deprivation, TAGT, teens, twice exceptional, Twitter. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.