Raising a Gifted Child:
Capturing “Parentable” Moments
David Yun Dai
State University of New York at Albany
A workshop at the Chinese University of Hong Kong
May 27, 2011
Activity 1: Get to Know Your Child
Name three things you particularly
like about your child (behaviors,
performance, attitudes, personality,
Name three things you don’t like
about your child or you would like
to see improved
Discussion: What might have eluded you…
I now realize that my child may have
the following characteristics that are
potentially desirable and need to be
encouraged and properly channeled
Intellectual and academic:
Affect and personality:
Activity 2: A Brief Survey:
Do you do the following in your parenting?
Demand straight As in school Yes No
Expect your child to play a music instrument well
Set up strict limits on TV time or video games
Attempt to limit the amounts of time on social,
athletic, or volunteer activities Yes No
Expect obedience Yes No
Are you a “tiger mom” or “lion dad”?
Are you tough-minded or tender-minded with your
Does it work for you AND MORE IMPORTANTLY for
Skilled performance (e.g., piano, billiads)
Academic knowledge (math, science, literature)
Entrepreneurship and business
Creative writing, composition, and invention
Western and Eastern beliefs and value regarding
Discussion: The nature of schooling
A competition game or growth process?
Schooling, a competition frenzy?
Do we produce “high achievers” who are
preoccupied with “success” but have no “inner life”
(deep interests and intellectual curiosity, concerns
about life and existence or social justice)?
A recent case of a Harvard post-doc back to China
and end up in a mental hospital…The lack of
social skills can be fatal
Activity 3: Write down three areas of
strengths of your child (talent & personality)
GROW out of Four forms of agency
Expressive, intellectual, instrumental,
and social agency
At the edge of chaos
Activity 4: Write one incident of your child
noticeably experiencing negative emotions
Academic or social?
Mainly endogenous (from the child) or exogenous
(from the environment)?
How well did he or she cope?
What did you do?
Coping as a moment of growth:
Building your child’s personal strengths and
resilience as an important goal of parenting
Setbacks and failures are important for growth
Turning something negative to positive is a major
coping skill (Steve Jobs)
You can help…but don’t make it worse…
Activity 5: Write down three careers you
would like your child to pursue
Suppose you hope your son will go to medical
school to become a doctor but he wants to an
actor and he is actually quite active with a
group of young performing artists in an
experimental theater. Would you support him?
Discussion: Your value orientations
Do they match what you identified earlier as
your child’s strengths?
Do they show more of what you prefer or
what your child prefers?
What kind of value orientations do your
preferences and attitudes reveal?
Security, prestige, wealth, happiness, contributions to the
Sum Up: Cope and Grow as parentable
What parents should do (IPHER)
Identifying strengths and interests;
Provide opportunities, support, and resources;
Help your child cope with stress, negative events and emotions;
Encourage personal initiatives that stretch their minds and
Respect their need for autonomy and their academic and career
What parents should not do
Controlling and enmeshing parenting
Focusing on “success” and utilitarian gains instead of personal growth
Questions and Comments?