Being gifted is not easy. Giftedness comes with all kinds of challenges like asynchronous development, overexcitabilities, perfectionism, imposter syndrome, and pressure from others. All of this can lead to a variety of social issues.
Here 10 things to keep in mind when trying to understand the social issues that gifted individuals face:
- One does not equal all. Each gifted person is unique, just like all children. Do not pigeon hole them.
- Giftedness does not automatically mean gifted in all areas. In fact most gifted are not. And, there are gifted who are 2E meaning they have giftedness along with some other learning difficulty or special needs. This also can lead to difficulties making friends.
- Many times gifted persons doubt their abilities or try to mask them (Imposter Syndrome) due to trouble with self-acceptance as well as an attempt to be accepted by others.
- Gifted person often face pressure from parents, teachers, peers, and other adults when asked to “prove themselves” or false expectations that giftedness equates to all A’s. In addition, they feel pressure to be or act “normal” in order to be accepted by their peers. Yes, some peers put extreme pressure because they perceive the gifted student as the one ruining the curve or winning all academic contests.
- Many gifted have such high levels of perfectionism that they avoid or fear risk-taking. This leads to frustration for them and others. And, this can lead to serious anxiety issues.
- Asynchronous in giftedness is the fact that their emotional and social development is not matching their academic or intellectual development. Due to this, gifted persons often do not get their needs met by the same peers but rather need different aged peers or adults for different areas of their development. It is often hard for a child with the academic skills of a high school student but the social maturity of a 10-year-old to fit in during all situations. Sadly, this asynchronicity can lead to gifted individuals not having their cognitive or academic needs being met in traditional school settings. In addition, this leads to frustration for everyone around.
- Many gifted individuals have emotional sensitivity or intensity. Dabrowski’s overexcitabilities are real. However, some gifted are mislabeled or misdiagnosed due to the misunderstanding of giftedness. And others, are denied treatment because their problems or difficulties are minimized. This too can lead to difficulties making or maintaining friendships.
- The highly and profoundly gifted often have divergent interests. Sadly, many adults and peers do not understand these interests or don’t share pleasure in these interests which can lead to social isolation or ostracization.
- What works for one gifted person may not work for others. There is no single recipe for success. Each gifted person will need to learn strategies that work for them for handling the flow of life, social issues, and emotional balance.
- Many gifted persons are at risk for being victims of bullying.
It is clear, giftedness poses challenges. However, they also need to be understood and accepted for the individuals they are. They might need additional support to help them grow and find their “tribe.” As parents we all want our child to be accepted and happy. A little more support can go a long way.
- From SENG “Social and Emotional Aspects of Giftedness in Children”
- From Duke TIP “Challenges of Being Gifted”
- From RIAGE “Social and Emotional Development of Gifted Children”
- From Hoagies’ “Social/Emotional Aspects of Giftedness” (lots of links)
- From Davidson Institute “Highly Gifted Children and Peer Relationships”
- From Raising Lifelong Learners “5 Tips for Helping Gifted Children Make Friends”
- From Huffington Post “The Misunderstood Face of Giftedness”
This blog article is part of the Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page Blog Hop on “Social Issues.” I thank my friends at Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page and elsewhere for their inspiration, support, and suggestions.
Please click on the graphic below (created by Pamela S Ryan–thanks!) to see the other Hoagies’ Blog Hop participants, or cut and paste this URL into your browser: