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Socio-emotional Needs of the Gifted Children

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: My child has been IQ tested an is gifted, however, she refuses to read or do anything to better herself. She is a good soccer player but most of the time she walks on the field. We have asked her if she want to quite after every season and she says no. She is only 8 years old and we have tried being supportive of her and also using privilege in order to get her to read and work hard at her tasks. Nothing works. She does not seem to care about anything. Punishment (no TV or playing with friends) does not phase her either. She also does not talk about her feelings. I have tried and tried to get her to open up, but she refuses. I have read several gifted books and their techniques have not worked on her. I don't know what else to do. Do you have any advice?

A: From what you wrote, it looks like she has been quite disturbed, unchallenged and bored. Has she been like this since Grade 1 or at the start of school, or has she always been like this? It is important to pinpoint when she started behaving like this and track down the happenings in her life at that time.

You may also want to speak to her teachers about her behaviour at school. Is she socially active? Does she have friends at school? Has she any siblings at home? At 8, not caring about anything may not be a good sign, especially since she has a bright life ahead. Gifted children may be academically and cognitively gifted but emotionally, they may be no different from their peers. However, expectation of their emotional strength is often blown out of proportion. We usually expect a gifted child to understand things better and these children sometimes feel pressured to always "do it right, say it right". On the other hand, their emotional intensity may be so high that they become overly sensitive to comments/criticism.

I'm sure you have tried hard, perhaps, she may not want to open up to her family members for fear of troubling or hurting anyone, so it may be a good idea if you get some help from a third party. For a start, perhaps a relative that she has high regards for. At her age, she is able to communicate so it may be only through her talking that you can find out what is troubling her to understand her behaviour. If all else fails, I suggest you see a child psychologist. My very best to you.


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