So, your kid is “smart”, gifted even. It may seem like they’ve got it made, easy sailing from this point forward. Right? What’s to worry about? They’re smart, they’ll figure it out. This is what our school system, and society tell us, and as a result, many gifted children and teens don’t get their emotional, social or academic needs met. They can be misunderstood, misdiagnosed and left feeling like they don’t belong anywhere. Parenting a gifted child comes with its own set of challenges as well.
Here are some common issues for gifted children and teens you may not realize they are struggling with:
Gifted children and teens may doubt they are gifted at all. They may even feel like failures or like they don’t belong in different settings like school, home and social groups.
Gifted children and teens are often more emotionally sensitive than their peers.
Gifted children and teens may be misdiagnosed with a variety of mental health disorders because their behaviors are misunderstood by professionals who are unfamiliar with the issues gifted people face. For example, a bored, gifted child might be misdiagnosed with ADHD by someone who interprets the child’s boredom as being distracted and unable to concentrate.
Gifted children and teens may have difficulty relating to peers, and are more likely to be introverted making social connection more complicated, and leaving them feeling lonely and isolated.
Gifted children and teens may be more likely to have sensory processing issues, making them more sensitive to loud sounds, bright lights, and the textures of clothing and foods for example.
Gifted children and teens often learn more quickly than other students and become bored, frustrated, and stunted by the repetition and slow pace in the traditional classroom, causing them to refuse to do homework, act out in class, and eventually believe school is not for them.
Gifted children and teens may have asynchronous learning and development, meaning they may not be gifted in all aspects, and could even be delayed in some areas, and may also develop physically, socially and emotionally at a different rate than they have grown intellectually.
Teachers and parents may mistreat gifted children and teens by punishing them for being precocious, asking them to prove their intelligence and by denying them accommodations that meet their unique needs.
Gifted children and teens may become afraid to try new things or take risks due to an increased fear of failure.
Gifted children and teens are at an increased risk of anxiety, depression, suicide, and of dropping out of school if their emotional needs are not addressed.
Understanding a child’s unique needs is important for all parents, including those of gifted children and teens. What would you do to help your child reach their full potential? It’s a no brainer for most parents to provide tutoring, test prep classes and other opportunities for their kids to excel. It is just as important to safeguard your gifted child or teen’s emotional health.
A therapist who is educated and experienced in the needs of gifted people can be an invaluable resource. They can teach your child or teen important coping strategies, social skills, and help them to build self esteem. A great therapist can also help you with parenting issues, and give you ideas for navigating the school system. If you are looking for someone like this SENGifted.org is a good resource to find qualified professionals and parent support groups in your area.
About the Author: Christy, is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist and Somatic Experiencing Practitioner, practicing in San Diego, California. She has approximately 10 years of experience working with children, teens, parents, families, couples and individual adults with complex psychological and relationship problems. She specializes in the needs of gifted, bright and high achieving people, as well as those who have suffered past trauma. Christy uses an eclectic approach, meeting the needs of whomever she is working with. Her work addresses the needs of the whole person, incorporating mind and body.