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Social / Emotional Issues



Understanding Vulnerabilities and Fostering Growth

The abilities and experiences of gifted children are different from the typical development of children. They have exceptional ways of experiencing the world, as well as advanced intellectual abilities and special gifts and talents.

According to Barbara Clark in “Growing Up Gifted” the social and emotional growth of our gifted is of utmost importance not only because such growth can sharpen intellect, but more importantly because such growth becomes the basis for the use of that intelligence.

Gifted learners take in information from the world around them and react and respond more rapidly and intensely than other children. They are stimulated by what’s going on around them as well as by what moves from within them. Gifted children are often misunderstood because of their great capacity for stimulation and because they perceive and process things differently. It is often called the “too much” syndrome. Their excitement is viewed as excessive, high energy as hyperactivity, persistence as nagging, strong emotions and sensitivity as immaturity, passions as disruptive, imagination as not paying attention, questioning as undermining authority, and their creativity at times as oppositional. They stand out from the norm. (Joyce Van Tassel Baska, Ed. D., Tracy Cross, Ph.D., F. Richard Olenchak, Ph.D., 2008)

Gifted children are more likely to experience extremes, to be more intense and sensitive. This capacity for experiencing intensely should be viewed as an asset to be understood and accepted.

There are social and emotional areas of vulnerability to be aware of in gifted children:
  • Asynchronous or uneven development: Gifted may possess a cognitive understanding of issues that goes far beyond their ability to cope with the issues physically or emotionally.
  • Perfectionism: Gifted set high goals for themselves. Not attaining these goals can result in frustration and feelings of incompetence or inadequacy.
  • Intensity and Sensitivity: Feelings are easily hurt. Gifted can exhibit strong sensitivities to noise, light, sound and other stimuli.
  • Alienation: A gifted child is often misunderstood to be arrogant because he is so smart and sees things so differently.
  • Inappropriate environment: The gifted child needs an environment uniquely suited to meet the special needs of gifted learners.
  • Role conflicts: Gifted children are often smarter than adults, making adults uncomfortable.
  • Self-definition: Gifted are motivated from the inside. They have a need to achieve all that they are capable of accomplishing. If they are not encouraged to understand their giftedness and to express it appropriately, confusion, doubt and loss can result.
At Stargate, we think about, talk about, and deal with learners in terms of their giftedness.


MYTH: All children are gifted.

REALITY: All children have strengths and positive attributes, but are not all gifted in the academic sense of the word. Appropriate identification of students as gifted allows them to be evaluated for support and services and that meet their unique learning needs. Source: National Association for Gifted Children