The Emotional Life of Bright or Gifted Students

The Emotional Life of Bright or Gifted Students

Parents and teachers of bright and gifted children are often confused and surprised by some of the emotional challenges that these young people face. In addition to possessing advanced intellectual development, these children often have complex and deep emotions which are often more intense than those of their non-gifted peers. The combination of such advanced intellectual abilities and a rich emotional life together create an intensity of emotion in the gifted that is often misunderstood by others; often these children are described as alternately hyperactive, depressed or moody depending on the situation. 

Gifted children express this emotional intensity in a variety of ways. Sometimes the emotional intensity is displayed as what appears to others to be an unreasonable anxiety. Gifted children are often acutely aware of and interested in the world around them. They might view a troubling news story, process the information deeply and then react more anxiously than one of their non-gifted peers. Similarly, many gifted children often express extreme emotions of joy connected with something they have learned or experienced. 

With their peers, gifted children are often perceived by others as being overly sensitive as they tend to value deeper relationships than their same age peers are experiencing. This often leads gifted children to seeking out older children or adults with whom they can interact and can lead to a certain amount of isolation from their same age peer group. Such strong and changing emotions are often viewed as problematic. Gifted children and the adults in their lives need to understand that these emotions are another dimension of giftedness. These children need to know that they are not “abnormal” or particularly difficult. On the contrary, they need to be reassured that their unique feelings and behaviours are part of the rich emotional life enjoyed by many gifted individuals. 

Readers may want to review the following publications to learn more about the emotional lives of gifted children:

“Understanding the Emotional Life of the Gifted Child” by P. Susan Jackson, Daimon Institute for the Highly Gifted

“Emotional Intensity In Gifted Children” by Lesley K Sword, Director, Gifted & Creative Services Australia Pty Ltd © 2005

“Mellow Out’ They Say. If I Only Could. Intensities and Sensitivities of the Young and Bright” by Michael M. Piechowski, Ph.D. 2006

© Ivonne Fuechter-Field 2018