Education: Common Emotional Difficulties of Gifted Children by Sabah Karimi, on the Kyle Phoenix Blog

Common Emotional Difficulties of Gifted Children
by Sabah Karimi

Gifted children experience a number of challenges and obstacles for healthy development, and it can be difficult to determine if they are using a healthy coping style to manage stress, anger, and other emotional states. Gifted children are often classified as 'highly sensitive persons' (HSP) and have different needs than their non-gifted peers. If you're a parent or guardian of a gifted child, here are the most common emotional difficulties they may experience, along with some tips on handling them appropriately:

Perfectionism.
Gifted children often demand perfectionism in daily life, and this can become difficult to manage in a household that doesn't necessarily adhere to such a strict system. Gifted children can become obsessed with details, and exhibit obsessive-compulsive traits at an early age.
Solution: Help them with learning perspective, and encourage them to make a mistake without feeling 'bad' about it. Over time, they can learn how to prioritize where perfectionism is required, and where it can take a backseat.

Excessive concern about doing the right thing.
Most gifted children have an overdeveloped sense of what is considered to be right and wrong; this is a wonderful trait for decision-making, but can also leave them paralyzed for making the 'right' decision in some circumstances.
Solution: Encourage your gifted child to consider at least three alternative ways or approaches to managing a problem to avoid the self-limiting perspective and help them reduce anxiety.

Questioning everything.
Gifted children are naturally curious, and tend to ask a lot of questions about almost everything that crosses their path. This insatiable curiosity is very valuable for their natural creativity, but can be a hindrance to a simple conversation.
Solution: Offer as many details as possible when you're trying to explain something, and just expect them to ask a lot of questions. Show them how their curiosity can help solve problems and channel it into a creative activity such as writing or painting.

Lack of social flexibility because of intense focus.
Gifted children are adept at concentrating and focusing on a task for what seems like an excessive amount of time. This is a natural skill that is often overly developed in gifted children; think of it as the complete opposite of ADD, if only for a few hours. However, this intensive focus can leave them with only a few activities at the expense of other priorities.
Solution: Encourage them to branch out and keep up with a variety of social activities. Gifted children can be especially knowledgeable about one particular subject, but also have the ability to explore a variety of subjects and activities with a little practice.

Argumentativeness.
Gifted children are usually far ahead in their educational and learning abilities than their peers, and will reach emotional maturity faster than most. This can cause a lot of tension at home and in social circles; many are frequently involved in arguments with teachers.
Solution: Take the time to 'place' your child at the right educational level, and pursue extracurricular activities outside of standard school subjects if they're not allowed to skip a grade. Argumentativeness is usually a result of frustration, and gifted children need enough educational stimulation to match their intelligence.

Gifted children have very different emotional needs and need effective coping strategies as they get older. Understanding their unique qualities is the first step in helping them through the process, and can help to encourage their growth in a positive way.


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Kyle Phoenix
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