Gifted Child Behavior

Are you worried about gifted child behavior? Some parents wonder if gifted children are at some risk of suffering from social, emotional or behavioral problems because of their gifted status.

However, gifted child behavior ranges from the positive to the problematic, just as is true for non-gifted children. Many gifted children are highly competent and well-adjusted. In one early study of gifted children (Terman, 1954), teachers viewed gifted children as better adjusted than their less intelligent peers. In addition, gifted children exhibit positive cognitive behaviors, such as curiosity, high motivation to learn, advanced vocabulary, strong memory, rapid learning, an early interest in reading, superior talent or advanced knowledge in one or more cognitive areas.

Although gifted children posses a high IQ (in the top 2% of the population) they, like their non-gifted peers, can also experience a range of child problems. Parents of gifted children often report concerns about their gifted child's behavior. In addition, studies (Winner, 1996) have reported that children with a high IQ may feel unhappy and isolated. Gifted children can also present with serious behavior problems. Some have learning difficulties such as attention problems and learning disabilities.They also suffer from the same social stressors as other children. They, too, can exhibit behavior and emotional concerns, such as anxiety and depressive symptoms, as well as acting out and aggressive behaviors.

In addition, gifted children can experience personal and family issues that may interfere with their academic achievement. One study indicated that gifted children who are underachieving at school reported more family issues and a poor self concept.

The gifted child behavior that worries you may be relatively mild. In one case, the parents of a gifted child were worried about his social skills. He was having trouble fitting in and making friends in the gifted program he attended. As they explained, "We have done what we can to foster his intellectual potential, now we want to enhance his social competence." With the help of a child psychologist they took steps to enhance their son's social skills and his Emotional IQ, which is at least as important to life success, as a high intellectual IQ.

Help for Gifted Child Behavior

If you have concerns about a gifted child the following suggestions might help:

  1. Seek Professional Support: A child psychologist can help you explore the needs of the gifted child, and provide recommendations and support to assist you with gifted child behavior.

  2. Assess the Gifted Child: The psychologist can also conduct a Psychological Assessment to provide a profile of the gifted child's strengths and needs. An assessment can also help you explore whether the child meets the intellectual criteria for the gifted exceptionality within the school board her/she attends.

  3. Assess and Develop The Emotional IQ: You can assist the gifted child in realizing his or her potential by focusing on the Emotional IQ. A high intellectual IQ (a score in the top 2 % of the population) does not ensure success in life. However, there are strong links between Emotional Intelligence and those who are successful in their work and personal lives. (Stein & Book, 2000).

Resources Referred to in this Article

  1. Stein, J. & Howard, E.(2000). The EQ Edge. Toronto, Multi Health Systems.
  2. Terman, L.M.(1954). The discovery and encouragement of exceptional talent. American Psychologist,9,221-238.
  3. Winner, E. (1996).Gifted children: Myths and realities. New York, NY: Basic Books.

In summary, gifted children not only exhibit numerous cognitive strengths and many gifted children are competent well adjusted individuals. Other gifted children may exhibit child problems, including social, emotional.and behavioral problems, as well as problems learning at school.

Contact Dr. O'Connor about gifted child behavior. Following her review of your concerns, she will make suggestions about how to address them.

Dr. O'Connor also offers Psychological Assessments to help you explore your concerns about child problems, including gifted child behavior. To find out more, click here.

You may also want to request a Psychological Assessment to determine whether your child meets the gifted criteria in your school board.