You might think that a gifted child has it made - clever, intuitive, original.
But for far too many such children their very talents make it difficult for them to fit in to the education system they find themselves in.
Gifted children often feel confused and doubtful and quite against expectation, they can really dislike school too.
The uneven profile of their talents sometimes makes it difficult for them to be recognized, or given the personal attention they need.
“[There is] abundant available evidence that gifted children show enhanced sensory activation and awareness. Gifted brains are essentially “hyper-sensitive”…
Eide & Eide, Brains on Fire (John Hopkins School of Education)
Their anxiety can show itself in a wide variety of ways and isn’t always recognized for what it is.
It might look like perfectionism or overly worrying about global challenges at a young age, such as environmental problems or social justice. Perhaps it shows in skin problems, eczema, difficulties in tolerating certain fabric textures on their skin or sleep related problems.
Anger or tantrums in awkward situations can cover up deep-seated anxiety problems, or the child can close down and retreat from life in such a way that you no longer hear their enthusiastic questions, as they shut off from their natural curiosity and join a colourless crowd of peers, just to blend in.
The rough-and-tumble and unspoken rules of everyday social interaction can leave some gifted children mystified and feeling left out.
It is not necessarily the wisest or most thoughtful child who wins out in the playground - remember “Lord of the Flies”.
Successful nurturing of creative children helps them become secure in their own creativity.
How do you do that, when so many gifted children suffer from mild to severe anxiety?
Over the years I have written many articles to help parents deal with their gifted creative children.
Here are some reminders of favourite blog posts you may find helpful as you explore more effective ways to help your anxious child calm down and feel more connected with his own special talents:
Help Them Get Their Needs Met - Make Life into a Continuous Exploration
If a child is not recognised for who she is, and there is no room for her to explore self-expression, everyday existence can feel very unsafe and ultimately not worthwhile.
By helping children step back and teaching them to be curious about all aspects of life - their personal joys and grief, success and set-backs, the ways people interact and how they fit in - they will gain perspective and an increased feeling of control.
Stay in conversation with your child. Talk, talk, talk, as you help your anxious child:
1. Gain increased self-awareness
Help them identify their feelings and externalise them - perhaps even colour or draw them on a piece of paper or in an outline of a body.
Research shows that people who get a handle on their feelings do much better at dealing with difficult and unexpected situations.
2. Pursue his interests
Make it possible for them to keep their interests and hobbies alive, so that life can feel about so much more than school.
Celebrate the process of discovery and perseverance. The results will follow but they are of secondary importance.
3. Discover where he fits in
Encourage them to look for soul mates - and make an effort to keep in touch when these friends are not part of everyday life.
4. Learn how to deal with others
Help them be curious about how other people tick - what motivates them and how they behave.
Help them realise that each friend might serve a different purpose and that even nice people can do very ‘silly’ or ‘annoying’ things.
Teach them how to forgive and that we all see things in different ways.
Finally, before I sign off - an urgent reminder that you make sure you apply these ideas to yourself too.
A calm and satisfied parent is more likely to have a calm child.