Gifted children may be seen as highly accomplished or talented. But, is everything really okay with them? They too need a supportive environment. Here are six struggles such children may go through.
By Jasmine Kaur
Gifted children are different from their peers. They are often precocious learners so they are able to learn and master various skills early on. However, in some ways, this ability or talent can present problems as well as opportunities. Such children also face challenges in life and need their parents to be supportive, at all times.
So, if you are the parent of a gifted child, read on to find out how you can guide your child through the ups and downs that he experiences.
Here are some of the problems that gifted children often struggle with:
1. Boredom: Gifted children learn faster than their peers and move on to the next level. Therefore, they feel bored when they have to learn at a slower pace. They also feel weary and disinterested when they don’t understand the reason behind doing certain activities or when the tasks do not seem challenging enough. Boredom can make a gifted child feel frustrated, decrease her motivation levels, make her underachieve and pick up unhealthy learning habits. According to *Dr Devasena Desai: "Gifted students can get easily bored in classrooms, because the material covered is not on par with their advanced learning abilities, even in tests and exams. Some gifted children might even under-perform, which makes it likely that they have some learning problem. That must be addressed as it could lead to disruptions in class. The teacher might say 'she is bright but unable to present her ideas on paper'."
2. Friendships: Friends are those with whom we can connect and reach out to at any time and stage in our life. But making friends and maintaining friendships can be very difficult for a gifted child. Since these children have advanced cognitive abilities, they may feel that their friends are less mature. This can make friends feel that they are being belittled or criticised. As a result, they may not get along well with such gifted children. Also, gifted children may even seek out older children, who match their cognitive level.
3. Emotional sensitivity: Gifted children experience emotions more intensely than others. So, at times, they may react in a more extreme manner as well. Also, gifted children are more sensitive to people and situations. They form strong attachments, be it with people, places or objects, and are empathetic not only towards humans but also, animals.
4. Sensory over-excitability: Some gifted children might suffer from sensory over-excitability. Which means, they experience sensations like light, sound, smell, taste and texture more acutely than others. This could lead to over-stimulation of the senses and make them feel anxious, frustrated and unable to focus.
5. Control issues: Often, gifted children are misunderstood as having control issues because they behave differently from others. They tend to ask more questions, do not act on instructions readily and feel compelled to stand up for what they believe is right. Displaying such behaviours can give the impression that they are being rude, disrespectful and out of control.
6. Burnout: In children, stress, overexertion and the inability to relax can lead to burnout — mental, physical and emotional exhaustion. This makes a child feel demotivated, anxious and fearful. Gifted children can also experience this. Dr Desai says: "Gifted children are full of ideas and try very hard to succeed. For example, if such a child is planning to take part in a quiz, she might read a few books to prepare, while also keeping up with what's being taught in school and doing other chores. However, working so hard without taking breaks can leave the child feeling exhausted."
Although gifted children are way ahead of their peers when it comes to intellectual abilities, they also need a lot of help and support. As a parent, you need to understand this fact and help your child blossom into a well-balanced individual.
*Dr Devasena Desai is a specialist in gifted education.
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