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We want all children to have good self-esteem. Unfortunately, many struggle with it.
It’s almost a guarantee with kite kids (my term for “gifted” and twice-exceptional children). Many gifted adults say they felt like outsiders kids, and didn’t have close friends until high school or college.
Overexcitabilities can certainly be part of the reason. And then there’s asynchronous development. As the psychologist said, who evaluated my son, “It’s difficult to perceive the world at such a high level, but emotionally, still be a young child.”
If you have a kite kid, here are some ways to help them:
Encourage their interests
Whether your child is fascinated by: how things work; the history of societies and cultures; or how book illustrators use shapes, colors and textures to create visual representations of an author’s words, there are toys, books, activities, groups and events to feed their interests.
Here are a few ideas:
- Favorite author appearances
- Classes, workshops and camps
- DIY activities for home (old electronics and small appliances to dismantle, materials to conduct science experiments, art supplies, etc.)
- Outings and day trips (science centers, LEGO conventions, maker spaces and maker faires, performances, etc.)
- Subscription services that send your child a kit each month
- Chess sets and chess clubs
Let them know you care
- Slip love notes in your child’s coat pocket, lunchbox, on her pillow, or anywhere else she may need a surprise pick-me-up during her day. If he’s older, don’t make any that other kids may see overly mushy. (That’s so embarrassing, Mom!)
- Periodically include a lunch-box surprise. This doesn’t need to be time-consuming and elaborate. Simple gestures, such as sprinkles in a food container or a fun napkin, can bring a smile. Occasionally, I’ll include muffins baked in fun cupcake liners and, on May 4, I always pack my kids a Star Wars-themed lunch.
- Show an interest in learning more about them. A fun and easy way that my family has changed things up is to use conversation-starter card sets. We’ve learned a lot about each other that way and kids absolutely love them. They’re also fun when extended family or friends visit.
We have one from Table Topics and the one picture right from an Etsy creator. I also like Family Time, which is smaller and easy when you’re on the go. I’ve brought it to busy restaurants and on road trips. (So much better than listening to kids bicker or having their noses in screens the entire time!)
- Apologize when you lose your cool or handle a situation in a way you regret.
- Know their love language and use it. (Some don’t buy into this concept, but after reading the adult and kids’ versions of these books, I do and think these insights are incredibly helpful.)
Help them find purpose
- Find ways to express kindness to others, such as making lunches for the homeless or visiting a nursing home (which both of my kids enjoy). Another idea is to paint what my daughter and I call “kindness rocks” and leave them in places that others in the neighborhood or community will find them.
- Raise money for a charity.
- Donate old clothes and toys.
- Volunteer (animal shelter, clean-up day, etc.)
Give them responsibility
- Chores can provide a sense of accomplishment (yes, really) and make your life a little easier too (yay!)
- If allergies aren’t an issue, and you think your child is dependable enough to help care for it, a pet can be very beneficial. Do your research on the pros and cons of animals and breeds, and be sure to look at the individual animal’s temperament.
- Join an extracurricular group that focuses on your kite kid’s interests. Some that appeal to math and science enthusiasts are:
Help them find their tribe*
- Sign up for workshops related to your child’s talents through local rec centers, private schools (after-school events sometimes open to public), etc.
- Join a chess club
- Join a children’s dance or theatre group
- Have one-on-one play dates at your house
- Organize a small get-together with like-minded peers. You can even give it a theme like: bring on summer; back to school; or fall, winter or spring break.
* Unfortunately, not every teenager and adult who works with children should be trusted. From youth sports and church groups to private music lessons and sleepovers, predators exist. Please do your research, and ask safety questions like these after picking up your child.