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    Illinois Association for Gifted Children

IAGC QUESTION OF THE MONTH - AUGUST 2019: What Types of Social/Emotional Struggles Might a Gifted Child Encounter, and How Can I Provide Support?

08/12/2019 10:06 AM | Anonymous member

Students who are gifted are not necessarily inclined to struggle socially, and in fact, gifted children tend to be socially adept, popular, happy and confident with their friends. Gifted children have many strengths: they are often inquisitive, imaginative, and highly communicative.  They can be passionate about learning, joyful, and curious about the world around them.   

Gifted students may also be sensitive, anxious, or focused on complex questions, intense interests, and/or world issues at a young age. As a result, some gifted students may feel isolated or misunderstood by their peers.  Parents may observe that their gifted child prefers the company of older children or adults to whom they can better relate on an intellectual level. At the same time, the child may not be advanced emotionally, and he or she may encounter social-emotional challenges due to this uneven, or “asynchronous,” development. Parents should talk to their gifted children about their interests and experiences and encourage them to share their feelings about learning and friendships.  Providing situations in which their child can interact with peers with similar interests and abilities is another way that parents can help their child to feel socially accepted and confident.

Another common challenge that some gifted students may encounter is dealing with anxiety or perfectionism. Students may imagine problems that are beyond the scope of what they can solve.  They can envision a perfect, sophisticated solution, but they may become frustrated when it is not reached easily. By teaching a growth mindset--that mistakes and struggle are a part of the learning process--parents can help their gifted students to understand that problem-solving, asking others for help, and not “knowing all of the answers” are a natural part of the learning and growth process.

A wealth of books and resources are available to help parents and educators understand and meet the social-emotional needs of their gifted children.

To learn more, here are some useful resources:

National Association for Gifted Children Webpage, “Social-Emotional Issues”

Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted (“SENG”) Website

VanTassel-Baska, J., Cross, T., & Olenchak, F. (2009). Social-emotional curriculum with gifted and talented students. Waco, Tex.: Prufrock Press.


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