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Behavior Problems in a Gifted Child

author image Kay Ireland
Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.
Behavior Problems in a Gifted Child
Young students participate in a classroom discussion. Photo Credit Robert Mandel/iStock/Getty Images


The term "gifted" is applied to children who learn at an above average rate. In the United States, registration with the National Association for Gifted Children allows the association to keep track of the number of gifted children in each state. If your child is one of the roughly 1.5 million gifted children in the United States, you're undoubtedly proud. But a gifted child can exhibit certain behavioral problems as well as an above-average aptitude at school.

May Be Perfectionistic

A gifted child may strive for perfection in all of his work, which can spur him to the top of the class. But perfectionism can have its disadvantages. The Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, Wash. notes that perfectionism can sometimes lead to anxiety and depression. The constant need to be perfect at schoolwork and beyond can cause your child to feel anxiety before a test or project is due. Depression can follow a less-than-perfect performance, leaving your child upset for days following.

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May Be Very Sensitive

Your gifted child may sometimes suffer from intense sensitivity because of her knowledge base and acute senses. James T. Webb, Edward R. Amend and Nadia Webb note in their book, "Misdiagnosis and Dual diagnoses of Gifted Children and Adults," that your gifted child might be offended more easily, or even find certain stimuli upsetting. They might include a scratchy tag inside a shirt or lights that are too bright. This sensitivity can be related to a general over-excitability and interest in the world around her.

May Be Frequently Restless

Being in a class that doesn't challenge him can cause a gifted child to feel restless and act out while in the classroom out of boredom, warns Family Education. When your child is always the first to finish an assignment, or his teacher purposely overlooks him to give another child the chance to answer, it can cause him to feel frustrated or anxious. It's why gifted children are often misdiagnosed as children with Attention Deficit Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, when the restlessness really stems from not being challenged on a daily basis.

May Be Socially Awkward

Your child's academic gifts can make it hard for her to relate to other children her age. When she is more excited by learning numbers or words, she may learn to take refuges in her books over spending time being social. Family Education notes that other children may see her as a "show-off" and ostracize her. This, in turn, makes it even more difficult to see peers as her equals. This can result in paralyzing shyness or awkwardness.

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