How to Encourage a Child Who Doesn’t Struggle

Every child wants to be appreciated and praised for what they do well.  But how do you encourage a child who is naturally gifted?  How do you keep your child humble while still extolling his accomplishments?  Here are some ideas on how to do it.

1. Praise hard work and effort. Studies show that all children perform better when their efforts, not their natural abilities, are praised.  So, before you say things like, “You’re so smart!  You are so natural at that!” Or, “You are gifted,” praise your child’s effort, determination, and hard work.

2. To whom much is given, much is expected.  Gifted children have much to offer the world.  Encourage your child to think about her gifts as a tool that can help others.  Is she a great singer?  Have her perform at a nursing home.  Is your son an awesome soccer player?  Have him donate his time to help out underprivileged children at a park.

3. Don’t allow bragging or put downs.  In my house, math comes easily to my son, but not as easily to his older sister.  So as he watched her work on an equation he would say, “That’s easy.”  I explained to him that to her, that sounded like he was saying she wasn’t as smart as him. Sure your child can share his successes with you, but don’t let him brag to others or compare his accomplishments to his siblings’.  Also teach your child gratitude for his gifts, and help him cultivate a desire to praise and encourage others.

4. Prepare them for the big pond.  It’s easy to be the big fish when you’re in a little pond.  One friend of mine has a son who’s a very good athlete.  He was a true standout at his small private school.  But when he went on to play sports at a big public high school, he was just one of the crowd.

So while you celebrate your child’s abilities, help him keep them in perspective, and don’t make them his entire identity.


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