Mom-to-Mom Support/Our 12-year-old son is “gifted” but quite moody. How do I teach him?

Our 12-year-old son is “gifted” but quite moody. How do I teach him?

Gifted boy follows his interests completing soldering projects


Our 12-year-old son is “gifted”…he has an incredible memory and ability to learn almost anything quickly and without much effort. He’s also highly creative, always working on drawings and projects in the garage. The problems we encounter have to do with his attitude; he is quite moody (some of this is his age) but he has always been highly sensitive to change and is often quite selfish and unwilling to change to meet others’ needs. He is a wonderful child with a great sense of humor, and a great love and concern for his siblings but often he is disruptive and antagonistic. Do you have any suggestions on how to best foster this child’s enthusiasm without his needs dominating the family? We offer many prayers and sacrifices daily for him, frequent the sacraments as a family, go to Adoration regularly, etc. We are planning on using the CHC materials next year (as well as for our 7-year-old) but are wondering if even these materials might be too highly structured for our 12-year-old who seems to learn the best following his own interests. Thank you so much for your wonderful materials and support and God bless you!

Dear Mom,

Your letter brings to light the very real challenge that families must face when homeschooling. Children who are packed off to school each morning find themselves in a classroom situation whereby they are not easily allowed the freedom to spin the classroom around their needs. However, I have always felt that the challenges I encounter in the homeschool are not unique to homeschooling but the very challenges of situation, age, maturity, and development that would arise whether or not the child were homeschooled.

One of our sons was as you describe your boy. He is gifted (having been diagnosed as such by a psychologist) and as a result “needy.” He needed stimulation and constant activity, and there were indeed times when the homeschool seemed to be unable to meet his needs. It was in those times that he became sensitive and appeared to act out. I found that very carefully monitored outside activities (away from home and homeschool) allowed him a chance to expand his horizons and not be so disgruntled at home. For him, 4H was wonderful. Here he was able to be a part of a group of equally talented children (a peer group that would not appreciate his negative behavior), and he found the healthy competition to offer the stimulation he craved. This is not to say that homeschooling him was not recommended; in fact, it improved with the addition of this one outside activity. (More school work or harder school work is not the answer when dealing with gifted children). You might find that if you go online and do some research about this learning disability (and it is classified as such), you will find some very interesting helps.

I believe that one of the greatest assets of homeschooling is the freedom to work through challenges in a way that is pleasing to the family and fits into their lifestyle. 4H was not too demanding for me, and when my son was able to drive himself, he could attend meetings, etc. on his own. Our homeschool was tooled to fit his very specific needs. Sometimes it was necessary to let my husband take over so they would have the one on one time so vital for young men. Today my son is graduating from college, works in the hospital as a telemetry technician with the ICU, acts in the local theater, and plans to attend medical school next year to prepare himself to be a rural physician working in Alaska. Whew. I get exhausted sometimes just reading about all that he does, yet it is good for him; and I have seen that if he is not busy, he is moody and unhappy.

My son has matured and is such a comfort to me. I can remember the days when he was a tiny nursing person and thinking that he seemed so active and …….well, “needy.” He was preparing me for what was to come.

I admire you very much, as you are eager to address the challenges before they get out of hand. This is the true gift of the homeschooling lifestyle. We are able to see the challenges early on, and we can take steps to meet those challenges before they seem too big to handle.

Go forward into the challenge knowing that the Lord will empower you and inspire you along the way. I believe with all my heart that the Lord sends each mom the child that best suits her needs as well as the child’s needs. Our children are one of our pathways to Heaven. (After a long day with my “needy” son, I believed that more than ever. Heehee).

Lord, we ask that You protect all children who find that they are misunderstood for their unique nature. Lord, allow that we are able to see the silver lining in each challenge, especially if we are asked to work with children who have special needs. We love You, Lord Jesus, and long to see Your face in each challenge we meet.

Sending out a prayer,
Rita Munn

About Rita Munn

Rita Munn is a veteran homeschool mother of ten. For many years she was a popular speaker at Catholic homeschooling conferences. Writing has been a passion of hers for as long as she can remember, and she loves to use her writing skills to share her homeschooling experience with other parents. Her “family journal” reflections are featured in CHC’s Educating for Eternity e-newsletter.