Discipline and The Gifted Child: Which Parenting Style Is Best?

Most of us are familiar with the parenting styles employed by prior generations of parents: strictly-defined rules that kept children under their control and punishments for stepping out of line, resulting in a child deprived of the opportunity to cultivate their decision-making skills. But is this a reasonable way to raise a child? Today, we know of parenting methods that are better for your child whilst contributing to their development in a mutually-satisfactory way.

The Three Styles of Discipline

The three basic discipline styles are authoritarian, permissive, and authoritative. The authoritarian parent is apt to make decisions for the child, punishing them for disobedience and giving them little freedom. The permissive parent gives in to their child’s desires, making their lives easy and free of stress, but also depriving them of self-respect by not letting them do anything for themselves.

An authoritative parenting style makes the most sense, striking a balance between letting the child be accountable for their decisions and setting certain boundaries, rules, and guidelines for their behavior and choices. This approach embraces the role of reality as the best teacher for a child and lets them develop the foundations necessary for healthy self-discipline.

Should You Punish Your Child?

Consider that to foster healthy self-discipline, it’s essential to allow your child to develop independence, self-esteem, and a sense of responsibility. Ultimately, this leads to the ability to self-regulate, critical to their success in adulthood and later life. 

Some parents may use punishment as a strategy towards encouraging discipline, not realizing that it leads to children depending on outside sources to tell them how to behave. These children then only behave “correctly” out of a fear of punishment rather than an understanding of the consequences of their actions.

Gifted children, who are headstrong and independent, can react strongly to punishment with outrage, anger, or fear – which can later breed resentment. They are often more intense and insistent than typical children, which can be challenging during an argument and necessitates a careful response. Gifted children are more prone to thinking, questioning, and challenging directives until they hear a reason that makes sense to them. That’s why it’s best to avoid an authoritarian parenting style with them, focusing instead on a more balanced approach that permits a more positive relationship.

It’s helpful to think about some of the following questions to evaluate the efficacy of your parenting style and disciplinary choices:

  • What will this parenting style do to my relationship with my child?
  • How does my parenting style impact my child’s self-esteem?
  • How effective is this parenting style going to be in the long run?

Recognizing A Gifted Child’s Needs

At Rainard School for Gifted Students in Houston, TX, we understand and embrace gifted children’s need for the world to make sense to them. If children become overwhelmed, we have a separate space they can go into that allows them to express their emotions and needs constructively. Our teachers recognize that each child is different, employing the Rainard model to develop their emotional intelligence and coping skills. This provides positive reinforcement for children to use their words first instead of acting out. 

For more information, visit us at rainard.org, or call (713) 647-7246.