Raising a gifted child presents a unique challenge to parents. Many aspects of parenting need to be adjusted for the gifted child including not only education, but also discipline and motivation as well. Most people think of discipline as being a punishment, but it actually means to teach. Discipline should serve to teach your child to do the right thing and not necessarily to punish bad behavior. With the gifted child, the carrot often works better than the switch.
Rewarding good behavior is a very effective form of motivation . Children love to be praised and told they are valuable in the family or in any group. Giving a positive reinforcement after a child performs a task is a very effective tool to get children to want to do better in the future, even if no reward is given at a later date. Rewards need not be given every time the child performs well; rather, they should be given on a set or variable schedule. The variable schedule usually gets better results in encouraging good behavior, however, gifted children may perform better on a schedule. For example, during the school week, children may get rewarded for the week on Friday and will need this consistency.
There is such a thing as too much praise and reward. If a child is rewarded for every good thing they do, the motivation soon loses its value. Suddenly the child expects a reward every time they get a good grade or behave well and when they can't be rewarded will become upset. Verbal and small rewards will not be less motivating if the child is often rewarded too heavily. This is another reason rewards should be built up and earned over time.
Rewards do not have to be elaborate or expensive. A verbal praise of a job well done is sufficient for most children. Gifted children can be very sensitive, so even telling a child that he or she did well will boost their self-esteem and confidence. Gifted children also tend to be perfectionists always wanting to do better and outperform the last time. Praise will teach them that they did a good job, even if they think they could have done better.
This isn't to say that a child should never be punished. If a child has purposely hurt someone or something then they need to be taught that there are consequences to their actions. Punishment should teach the child that there are repercussions and negative behavior will bring about negative consequences. Because gifted children tend to be sensitive, punishments may not need to be as harsh as they normally would. The child will know he has hurt his parents and that will serve to be a far greater punishment than what his parents could give him.