6 Problems Your Gifted Child May Be Struggling With
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'."
- How you can help: A gifted child requires a lot of stimulation in areas of his interest. Parents and schools may not have the resources to do so. To help your child deal with boredom, enrol him in clubs or coaching classes where he can participate in activities of his interest. Let those in charge of these places know that your child enjoys having his abilities challenged. This way, he will be engaged and will also receive guidance and encouragement.
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.
- How you can help: The earlier you understand and accept your child’s giftedness, the sooner she understands herself. This will help her make the necessary adjustments in her social life. You can help your child by arranging social gatherings where she gets to interact with children who display the same level of intellect and share similar interests. Also, it’s okay for your child to have friends who are slightly older, especially when their minds meet. However, it is wise to monitor your child’s relationships with older friends for her own safety.
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.
- How you can help: A gifted child has to learn to manage his emotions in a healthier way. To help, ask your child to maintain an emotional response scale from one to ten, with one being the best and ten, the worst. When your child is upset about something, ask him to rate how he feels on the response scale. If your child picks ten, ask him if what happened really merits such an extreme response. This way your child will learn how to place events and emotions in perspective.
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.
- How you can help: If your child is sensitive to sensory stimuli, try to learn about factors that triggers this behaviour. Talk to your child beforehand about what to expect when you think certain situations could make her feel overwhelmed. Discuss with your child what she can do to feel less stressed in situations that tend to make her anxious or upset.
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.
- How you can help: To make your gifted child not look impolite and unmannerly, teach him to exercise self-control and play by the rules. In Dr Desai's opinion, "As gifted children have good verbal and logical abilities, they don’t want to be told what to do. Parents need to be supportive and encouraging of the different perspectives of their gifted child. They should treat their child as if she were a few years older than her age, due to her advanced cognitive abilities. However, when it comes to social and emotional issues, and discipline, treat your child according to his age."
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."
- How you can help: Your gifted child may try to work beyond his limits at times. So, try to make him slow down. Break up tasks into small sessions. Instead of multi-tasking, which creates distractions and decreases productivity, ask him to focus on one task at a time. Be on the lookout for signs of burnout and try to give your child a break from his usual schedule during the weekends.
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.
About the author:
Written by Jasmine Kaur on 20 September 2018.
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