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Do gifted kids have problems?

Gifted children are those who demonstrate outstanding abilities and are capable of high performance. They are academically ahead of their peers and have the capacity to learn at faster rates. Giftedness may manifest itself in domains such as intellectual, creative, artistic, leadership or specific academic fields. While gifted kids have remarkable talents, they also face unique challenges that can lead to problems.

Do gifted kids experience problems socially and emotionally?

Gifted children may face issues fitting in socially with peers and struggles with perfectionism and anxiety. Here are some of the key social-emotional issues faced by gifted youth:

  • Difficulty relating to same-age peers – Gifted kids tend to have more advanced vocabularies, interests, perspectives and maturity levels which can make it hard to connect with classmates.
  • Feeling isolated or like an outsider – The sense of being “different” can lead to feelings of not belonging.
  • Perfectionism – Gifted children often hold themselves to unrealistically high standards and have trouble accepting mistakes or failures.
  • Anxiety and stress – The pressure to achieve can provoke anxiety. Some gifted kids also feel overwhelmed by their intensity of emotions.
  • Boredom in school – Gifted students often master material faster than classmates, leading to feelings of boredom in class.
  • Underachievement – Some gifted kids underperform in school due to lack of challenge, difficult assignments or lack of motivation.
  • Difficulty with competition – The gifted child may be unfamiliar with challenge and uncomfortable with competitive situations.

Do gifted children have trouble in school?

While gifted students have the ability to thrive academically, they also face unique challenges in the classroom environment:

  • Lack of stimulation – Gifted kids often master material faster than peers and need more complexity.
  • Perfectionism – Gifted students may become frustrated more easily and give up when work is challenging.
  • Questions and disruptions – Gifted kids often ask more questions and can be disruptive when bored.
  • Daydreaming – Gifted students may drift off when work is not sufficiently engaging.
  • Underachievement – Gifted children may lose motivation and not live up to potential.
  • Learning disabilities – Gifted children can also have learning disabilities which masks their advanced abilities.
  • Boredom – Repetitive work and no flexibility leads gifted kids to tune out.
  • Social isolation – Gifted kids may struggle to relate to classmates and feel left out.

Teachers must provide gifted kids with academic rigor, flexibility and opportunities to excel or these students may become frustrated, disengaged and stressed.

Do gifted kids experience challenges finding peer groups?

Gifted children often have difficulty finding like-minded peers who share their intellectual intensity, passions, maturity level, vocabulary and interests. Here are some of the peer-related challenges:

  • Feeling different from classmates – Gifted youth recognize they view the world differently than peers.
  • Loneliness and isolation – Gifted kids may feel left out or misunderstood by classmates.
  • Boredom in friendships – Gifted children may not find conversations with classmates stimulating.
  • Rejection – Peers may resent gifted kids for their abilities and reject them.
  • Relational aggression – Gifted youth are prone to bullying, teasing and exploitation.
  • Hiding abilities – Gifted kids may downplay talents in an attempt to fit in.

Finding like-minded friends is important but can be difficult for gifted children. Parents can help by connecting gifted youth with peers through special programs, online forums and gifted communities.

Do gifted children struggle with expectations?

Gifted kids often wrestle with high expectations from parents, teachers and themselves. Here are some of the expectation-related pressures:

  • Parent expectations – Gifted youth feel pressure to excel from parents hoping they live up to potential.
  • Teacher expectations – Teachers and administrators often have unrealistically high goals for gifted students.
  • Societal expectations – Gifted children often feel they must positively contribute to society in a significant way.
  • Perfectionism – Gifted kids impose extremely high expectations on themselves, leading to frustration when they fail short.
  • Imposter syndrome – Gifted children question if they are truly gifted or deserving of gifted services.
  • Burnout – The weight of expectations can lead to mental and physical exhaustion.

While expectations can motivate, too many pressures can exacerbate the perfectionism, anxiety, depression, underachievement and low self-esteem gifted children are prone to. Providing encouragement and emotional support is vital.

Do gifted kids struggle with perfectionism?

Perfectionism is a common trait in gifted youth that stems from sensitivity, intense self-criticism, overexcitabilies and the pressure kids put on themselves. Perfectionism can lead to:

  • Procrastination – Gifted kids may avoid tasks where they risk failure.
  • Fear of failure – Gifted youth often have a phobia of not excelling and may avoid risks.
  • Self-criticism – Gifted childrenJudge themselves harshly and focus on flaws.
  • Unhealthy coping habits – Some gifted kids develop compulsive behaviors, eating disorders or addictions to cope.
  • Depression and anxiety – Perfectionism is linked to higher rates of anxiety and depression in gifted youth.
  • Underachievement – Some gifted students deliberately underperform to avoid pressure.

Parents and teachers must encourage gifted children to enjoy learning, take risks, view mistakes as learning opportunities, focus on effort over outcomes and seek help for mental health issues.

Do gifted children struggle with Misdiagnoses?

Gifted children are sometimes misdiagnosed with disabilities and disorders when their needs are misunderstood. Common misdiagnoses include:

  • ADHD – gifted kids can seem distracted when bored and may be incorrectly diagnosed.
  • Autism – gifted children sometimes seem socially awkward or have intense focus areas.
  • Learning disorders – when gifted students underperform it may be mistaken for a learning disability.
  • Oppositional defiant disorder – gifted kids who challenge authority or resist boring work may be viewed negatively.
  • Depression – gifted children’s anxiety and perfectionism may look like depression.
  • Bipolar disorder – gifted kids’ intensity and excitability could be misconstrued as a mood disorder.

Evaluating the child’s abilities and needs, rather than just behaviors, is vital to avoid misdiagnosis. Accurately identifying giftedness and coordinating appropriate programs and support is essential.

What are some solutions to the challenges gifted youth face?

While gifted children have greater needs, parents, educators and communities can take steps to support them:

  • Ability grouping and acceleration – Placing gifted kids with intellectual peers and accelerating their education combats boredom and isolation.
  • Pull-out enrichment classes – Specialized gifted programming allows intellectual stimulation and challenge.
  • Differentiated instruction – Teachers must tailor instruction, activities and pacing to the advanced abilities of each gifted learner.
  • Early entrance to school – Allowing gifted children to start school early is an effective acceleration strategy.
  • Social-emotional learning – Explicitly teaching social-emotional skills helps gifted kids manage expectations, perfectionism and intensity.
  • Counseling and mentoring – Providing gifted children with counseling and role models gives vital support.
  • Online gifted communities – Connecting gifted youth to share challenges and experiences combats isolation.

With appropriate interventions, gifted and talented children can thrive socially, emotionally and academically. We must nurture the next generation of inventors, leaders, creatives and thinkers.

What are some of the unique issues faced by profoundly gifted kids?

Profoundly gifted children are those with extremely advanced cognitive abilities. Generally, this means an IQ over 145. While sharing some common traits with moderately gifted peers, profoundly gifted kids face additional challenges:

  • Extreme isolation – They have difficulty finding intellectual peers and sharing interests.
  • Social/emotional delays – Their emotional maturity lags peers while intellect is accelerated.
  • Understimulation – Learning and grade-level curriculum is significantly below abilities.
  • Difficulty being understood – Hard for peers and even adults to understand their advanced reasoning.
  • Perfectionism – Profoundly gifted children judge themselves extremely harshly.
  • Overexcitabilities – Their intensity, sensitivities and idealism are heightened.
  • Existential depression – Some profoundly gifted kids suffer despair from their view of the world’s suffering.

Profoundly gifted students require the greatest levels of acceleration, intellectual peer groups, differentiation and support for their specialized needs. Educators and parents must be their advocates.

Do gifted kids have more learning disabilities?

While it may seem contradictory, gifted children are more likely to have learning disabilities than the general population. Gifted kids have a higher incidence of:

  • Dyslexia – Up to 25% of gifted children have dyslexia vs. 10% in the general population.
  • Auditory processing disorder – Gifted kids struggle to discriminate sounds and process verbal information.
  • ADHD – 10-20% may have ADHD compared to 5% of all kids.
  • Sensory processing disorder – Gifted children may be overwhelmed by sensory stimuli.
  • Executive functioning deficits – Weakness with planning, focus, organization and self-control.
  • Anxiety – Heightened anxiety affects working memory and processing abilities.

Twice exceptional, or “2e”, students have both giftedness and learning disabilities. It is vital for schools to identify and provide interventions for both exceptionalities in 2e students so they can thrive.


While gifted children have remarkable capacities, they also face distinctive challenges like perfectionism, social isolation, boredom, misdiagnoses and learning disabilities. But with appropriate acceleration, differentiation, counseling and support, gifted kids can flourish academically and socially-emotionally. We have a responsibility to nurture the talents of these exceptional youth who have so much to offer our communities and world. They are the future inventors, leaders, creatives and innovators who will make the discoveries to propel society forward.