“Parenting a gifted child can sometimes be a lonely journey” (Nilles, 2014, p. 8).
Gifted children often have asynchronous development, which causes a mismatch between their mental abilities and their mental maturity (Winstanley, 2009). A young child, such as a six or nine year old, may be able to do advanced mathematics or deliver an eloquent speech then have a complete emotional breakdown because a crayon broke. The parents of young gifted students often face the challenges of asynchronous development. The combination of nature and nurture has a direct effect upon who a child becomes (Haensly, 2004). It is recommended that parents take into consideration the child’s unique development when approaching parenting choices (Haensly, 2004).
Along with asynchronous development are increased fears, anxieties, insomnia, and overexcitabilities (Lamont, 2012). Lamont (2012) examines the link between giftedness, fear, and anxiety to Dabrowski’s overexcitabilities. There are five overexcitabilities: psychomotor overexcitability, sensual overexcitability, intellectual overexcitability, imaginational overexcitability, and emotional overexcitability.
- Psychomotor overexcitability: Children display high level of energy and can maintain focus for an extended period of time (Lamont, 2012). They need to be engaged in movement or an activity.
- Sensual overexcitability: Children need to use their senses to learn from their surroundings (Lamont, 2012). These children have heightened senses which can be a positive experience or a negative experience, depending upon the situation.
- Intellectual overexcitability: Children with intellectual overexcitability have a need to develop understanding for highly complex issues and often consider the meaning of life (Lamont, 2012).
- Imaginational overexcitability: Children display a highly creative imagination and often become engrossed in their own imagination (Lamont, 2012).
- Emotional overexcitability: These children “perceive life with intense emotions and reactions” (Lamont, 2012, p. 273).
Increased fears are common in gifted children and the types of fears can be classified by gender. Gifted boys primarily feared school failures, nightmares, bodily injury, and imaginary creatures (Lamont, 2012). Gifted girls experience fears of dirt, animals, the dark, being kidnapped, and strange sights and sounds (Lamont, 2012). Research shows that gifted children experience more fears than non-gifted students.
Ways to help children with fears and anxieties (Lamont, 2012):
- Provide structures and routines
- Teach flexibility
- Teach meditation techniques to calm emotions
- Help children set appropriate goals and expectations of themselves
- Model positive thinking
- Focus upon the present
- Allow children to express their feelings in a constructive manner
- Be available to provide guidance and advice
- Utilize humor
- Help your child find opportunities to volunteer
- Bibliotherapy-use of books to relieve stress