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Nurturing Social-Emotional Development of Gifted Children
The ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education (ERIC EC)
ERIC EC Digest #E527
Author: James T. Webb
What Are the Social-Emotional Needs of Gifted Children?
To a large degree, the needs of gifted children are the same as those of other children. The same developmental stages occur, though often at a younger age (Webb & Kleine, 1993). Gifted children may face the same potentially limiting problems, such as family poverty, substance abuse, or alcoholism. Some needs and problems, however, appear more often among gifted children.
Types of Problems
It is helpful to conceptualize needs of gifted children in terms of those that arise because of the interaction with the environmental setting (e.g., family, school, or cultural milieu) and those that arise internally because of the very characteristics of the gifted child.
Several intellectual and personality attributes characterize gifted children and should be noted at the outset. These characteristics may be strengths, but potential problems also may be associated with them (Clark, 1992; Seagoe, 1974).
Some particularly common characteristics are shown in the table.
==================================================== POSSIBLE PROBLEMS THAT MAY BE ASSOCIATED WITH CHARACTERISTIC STRENGTHS OF GIFTED CHILDREN ==================================================== Strengths Possible Problems Acquires/retains Impatient with others; information quickly dislikes basic routine. Inquisitive; Asks embarrassing questions; searches for significance. excessive in interests. Intrinsic motivation. Strong-willed; resists direction. Enjoys problem-solving; Resists routine practice; able to conceptualize, questions teaching procedures. abstract, synthesize. Seeks cause-effect Dislikes unclear/illogical areas relations. (e.g., traditions or feelings). Emphasizes truth, equity, Worries about and fair play. humanitarian concerns. Seeks to organize things Constructs complicated rules; and people. often seen as bossy. Large facile vocabulary; May use words to manipulate; advanced, broad information. bored with school and age-peers. High expectations of self Intolerant, perfectionistic; and others. may become depressed. Creative/inventive; likes May be seen as new ways of doing things. disruptive and out of step. Intense concentration; Neglects duties or people long attention span and during periods of focus; persistence in resists interruption; areas of interest. stubbornness. Sensitivity, empathy; desire Sensitivity to criticism to be accepted by others. or peer rejection. High energy, alertness, Frustration with inactivity; eagerness. may be seen as hyperactive. Independent; prefers May reject parent or peer individualized work; reliant input; nonconformity. on self. Diverse interests and May appear disorganized or abilities; versatility scattered; frustrated over lack of time. Strong sense of humor. Peers may misunderstand humor; may become "class clown"for attention. ==================================================== Adapted from Clark (1992) and Seagoe (1974).
These characteristics are seldom inherently problematic by themselves. More often, combinations of these characteristics lead to behavior patterns such as:
Problems from Outside Sources
Lack of understanding or support for gifted children, and sometimes actual ambivalence or hostility, creates significant problems (Webb & Kleine, 1993). Some common problem patterns are:
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ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education