Your Child Is Gifted–Let The Worries Begin

photo courtesy of P. Wilkes
photo courtesy of P. Wilkes

You’ve been told that you have a gifted child. You think you ought to be happy. A gifted child. People say parenting this kid should be a breeze. But instead of celebrating, you’re freaking out.

Your What-If-Brain goes wild.

What if I can’t answer all of his questions? What if she hates school? What if he gets bullied? What if she’s OCD, ADHD and HSP? What if he has meltdowns in public? What if she becomes a sociopath? What if I’m the most inept parent who was ever born?  What if I give in too much? What if I’m too rigid? What if I’m too emotional? What if he grows up to hate me? What if she’s not successful? What if he’s too successful? What if she doesn’t do her homework? What if he never learns to tie his shoes? What if she never finds any friends? What if he never learns how to fail? What if I’m always overwhelmed and anxious? What if I’m just like my mother? What if I’m just like my father? What if I’m not enough? What if I’m too much? What if I fail miserably and my kid ends up in therapy for ten years talking about how I failed miserably?

The list goes on.

And on.

Parenting your gifted child. Not a breeze.

What can you do?

In this social-media-internet age, there are easily accessible resources. For starters, you can go here, here and here.

But I wouldn’t be a good therapist, if I didn’t tell you to make time for introspection. Your child will benefit. More than you know.

Let me explain.

I know that you think your kid is gifted because of your partner, not you. Or because of your great-grandfather. Or because of the aliens who landed in your yard years ago. All of that may be true. But consider the possibility that you, too, may have these rainforest-minded traits.

Just look at how you worry. With great depth and creativity. Just like your kid.

Look at how sensitive you are to chemicals, sounds, smells, bad architecture and other people’s sadness.

Look at how darned curious you are and how you ache to learn about everything in this vast amazing universe.

Look at how you’re afraid of both failure and success.

Look at how you have trouble finding friends who aren’t overwhelmed by your enthusiasm.

Just like your kid.

Time to own it.

You have a rainforest mind. You are gifted.

The more you understand who YOU are, the better parent you’ll be.


To my bloggEEs: If you’re a parent of a child with a rainforest mind, let us know how that’s been for you. What are you learning about yourself? What are the wonderfully rainforest-y things your child is doing and how do you feel about them? What resources do you recommend to other parents? And if you suffer from severe What-If-Brain, read this.



Author: Paula Prober

I’m a psychotherapist and consultant in private practice based in Eugene, Oregon. I specialize in international consulting with gifted adults and parents of gifted children. I’ve been a teacher and an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon and a frequent guest presenter at Oregon State University and Pacific University. I’ve written articles on giftedness for the Eugene Register-Guard, the Psychotherapy Networker, Advanced Development Journal and online for psychotherapy dot net, Rebelle Society, Thrive, Introvert Dear, and Highly Sensitive Refuge. My first book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, is a collection of case studies of gifted clients along with many strategies and resources for gifted adults and teens. My second book, Journey Into Your Rainforest Mind: A Field Guide for Gifted Adults and Teens, Book Lovers, Overthinkers, Geeks, Sensitives, Brainiacs, Intuitives, Procrastinators, and Perfectionists is a collection of my most popular blog posts along with writing exercises for self-exploration and insight.

28 responses to “Your Child Is Gifted–Let The Worries Begin”

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  1. Article: “Your Child Is Gifted–Let The Worries Begin” By Paula Prober

    […] this  introspective article, “Your Child Is Gifted–Let The Worries Begin“, Paula Prober shares thoughts you might have when realizing that your child is gifted, and […]

  2. julia Avatar

    I noticed my son is very smart but gifted maybe. He can sing a rap song when he is two and half years old. Recognizes all cartoon characters, can draw perfectly a cartoon character such like wallie & eva. Now he likes to play with his lego and create any thing that he see. I can say he very creative and artistic.

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Julia. You can find many resources for parents of gifted kids at and Also has articles and a yearly conference. Thanks for writing.

  3. Amber Avatar

    “Time to own it.” I love that. Our household has 2 gifted adults and 3 gifted kiddos. To say that it is intense around here would be an understatement. However, just learning over these last few years that there are others who share what can be described as “overexciteabilities” or “highly sensitive” traits has been quite encouraging and enlightening. We’ve started to own who we are more and also accept each other’s intensities better. I can see beauty in the intensity now.

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Yes, Amber, there’s great beauty in the intensity and the sensitivity. Hard to appreciate it when you’re feeling overwhelmed and overwhelming, but it’s really quite gorgeous.

  4. Jennifer Roberts Avatar
    Jennifer Roberts

    Having a gifted child has definitely led me to learn more about myself. Growing up I knew I was smart, but never dared think I was actually gifted. I never realized that my sensitivity, perfectionism, and other “oddities” were all tied in to giftedness. I grew up thinking there was something wrong with me that prevented me from being “normal”. This past summer I decided to try the Mensa admissions test, hoping that membership (if by chance I qualified) would be an avenue to connect with other parents. I had read in numerous places that gifted kids often have gifted parents. But after testing, I was convinced that I had done poorly and would be disappointed when I received the scores. Well, I surprised myself!

    I know impostor syndrome is a problem among some gifted people, and it certainly has been for me. I think there are probably a lot of parents who are gifted themselves, but have talked themselves out of the possibility. I love your advice to “own it”! Yes! I feel like I was robbed of that self-knowledge for so long because nobody in my life understood what they were dealing with.

    Parenting a gifted child is very tough at times, but I am grateful that my experiences with my son are helping me finally understand myself, too. I do worry very much, especially since the best we can do right now is a public school without a gifted program. But when I worry I remind myself to look at my son–he’s happy right now, and that’s all that really matters. He has at least one person in his life who really understands him, and I think that will make a difference. I had a rough time of it growing up, but now I feel like that all had a purpose: to help my son have an easier time through support and understanding.

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Jennifer. Your love, understanding and support of your son will make all the difference!

  5. KtCallista Avatar

    Wow! Sorry for the typos. I usually comment from my laptop. I used my phone today.

  6. KtCallista Avatar

    What a timely article! I read this as I’m sitting with my husband fiinf out TAG requests for both of my school age children, since they had their first day of school here today. I read the observation lists and I begin to doubt myself. Are they really gifted? Aren’t most kids like this? They aren’t that different, they are just intense and dramatic and need constant challenges and stimulation. They read well because we all read, and use subtitles. They aren’t that different, are they. And then trying to put what I know in my mind in to words to demonstrate to people who would really benefit most from spending an hour chatting with my kids about anything, assuming they aren’t paralyzed with fear from talking with yet another strange adult.

    Advocating is the worst! I’ve been battling it before as budget cuts mean less services and I lean to over-worked and under-paid classroom teachers to fill the void… And they’ve done well.

    I never know what the best path could be, if we could even go there, but I don’t want them to sit bored and alone for 8 hours a day! I can’t do that to them. The fear that they have my experience, the loneliness, the boredom, the misery of not being understood and pushed down or ignored entirely is the only reason I can do any of it.

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Did you see the link in my last post to all of the blogs about gifted kids and their posts on advocacy? It’s at It might help.

  7. patchworkpoppies Avatar

    I never reblogged before. I truly hope it was ok! Interesting features!

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Oh yes. Reblogging is great. It gives the blogger (me) exposure to your readers and then brings them back to my blog. So it’s a great opportunity and a compliment.

  8. mytwicebakedpotato Avatar

    As a veteran elementary teacher, I was foolishly pleased when I heard that my son is highly-gifted. The sad thing is that the very institution that I love has betrayed my son.
    After horrible experiences for three years, we homeschool now.

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Thanks for your comment. I know many parents of gifted children who have had difficulty negotiating the school system. I’m sure your blog is helping other homeschooling parents. I enjoy reading it.

  9. patchworkpoppies Avatar

    Reblogged this on patchwork poppies and commented:
    This is spot on! Thank you Paula!

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Thank you for the reblog. I appreciate it.

  10. Gail Post, Ph.D. Avatar
    Gail Post, Ph.D.

    “Time to own it.” Well said! Great points in your article.

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Thanks, Gail. Nice to hear from you.

  11. Melissa Avatar

    I am no expert on what ‘to do’ but I can sure tell you what not to do – don’t let your kid, who you believe to be smarter than you, call the shots. Don’t NOT step in when things are starting to go south soon after the epiphany happens (the epiphany I’m referring to is the one when your child realizes they’re smarter than the teachers, at least in the way of actual intelligence, although they will probably not be smarter than their teachers in the way of life, experience and know how. This happened somewhere around 6th grade/Jr. High for my oldest). Don’t let them tell you school is pointless and a waste of their time. Don’t let them tell you that the programs for the gifted kids are ridiculous. DON’T LET THEM SHUT DOWN. I blame myself mostly, but I stood by, not knowing what to do, while my now 24 year old son, one of the most brilliant minds I’ve ever met, systematically shut down. Grades went from high marks to failing across the board, to ditching, to being switched to the ‘alternative education’ schools (for the trouble makers mostly) to dropping out all together. He eventually landed on the streets and on drugs. No amount of ‘help’ we offered mattered. He was paralyzed and we were at a loss. He met a girl a couple of years ago and his life starting turning around, but the steps were small and long. They married earlier this year and I keep hoping that he will find his footing. He is jobless and starts/stops college without completion over and over. I know he’s got the goods. But as a gifted person I understand the fear. The funny thing is, he won’t even admit he’s gifted. I shared this blog with him (an early post, the one about recognizing your Rainforest Mind, and all he said was, “eh” — :-/ If you are raising kids, please be wary of letting them make the decisions and if you find you don’t know what to do, seek help. I wish I had.

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Thanks for your advice, Melissa. It’s a good reminder for folks how these kids can be challenging to raise. I hear what you’re saying about how parents need to still be the parents even when their kids push boundaries and are very skilled at arguing for what they want. It can be hard to know how to set healthy limits and stick with them when kids are intense and strong-willed. A great reminder to seek help. It’s never too late.

  12. singlemoeder Avatar

    I had my ‘coming out’ being gifted and HSP 5 years ago. A LOT has changed since then and finally things are working out. My business is growing and i love the connecting and growth and pioneering.
    Both my kids – boy 6 and girl 2 – are like me. It is very hard at times all the HUGE emotions as I call them but it is also incredibly rich and full of love, our lives together.
    It is a tremendous battle against mainstream mediocracy and I just wish I could do homeschooling. I am so happy I know about my kids so they don’t have to be a nonexistent, not understood zombie the first half of their lives.

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      I’m so glad things are going well for you. It sounds like knowing about your own giftedness has helped you in both your business and in your parenting. Yay!

  13. Natalie Avatar

    I know My kids are gifted because of me. But, I had forgotten about it till my oldest started showing signs when she was 2.

    My poor husband doesnt know what to do about any of us.
    Especially when both kids can be quite intense.
    And sadly why out family may not grow any larger.

    But, i do ask myself half those questions quite frequently !

    I have learned alot about myself, and am on a journey of rediscovery while trying to figure out how to parent these kids.

    But, i have run into many people and have many friends who wonder where they get their giftedness from. I always answer one or both of you. 🙂

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      All the best to you, Natalie, on your journey.

  14. Black Sheep Avatar
    Black Sheep

    Curious what the likely hood of having more than one child fall into the Gifted realm? I have one who is identified, all the characteristics super intense kiddo. The older sibling struggles with school, but has many of the characteristics and also super intense. The younger sibling I suspect is gifted due to academics, some characteristics but NOT intense. Trying to advocate for each ones individual needs is overwhelming. Especially when each and every “event” triggers the what if brain. Perfectly named.

    Hoping that with more information and knowledge that we can do so much better for them!

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      It’s complicated, isn’t it? I think both of your kids could be gifted but in different ways. I’ve seen children who do well in school who aren’t gifted and children who struggle with school who are gifted. Looking at the other traits might be a better indicator. Insatiable curiosity? Passion for learning (not necessarily schooling)? High levels of sensitivities? Deep, fast thinking and problem solving? Another good resource is the National Association for Gifted Children. (NAGC) And remember, take care of yourself and your What-If-Brain. That’s good modeling for your kids.

  15. Atlas Educational Avatar
    Atlas Educational

    And knowing that we survived in this crazy world when people didn’t understand us has to mean that our children will too!

    1. paulaprober Avatar