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Pressure, Stress, and the Gifted Student (page 2)

Pressure, Stress, and the Gifted Student

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based on 54 ratings
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Updated on Sep 24, 2010

Parents can help students who are experiencing stress and burnout by trying some of the following ideas:

  • Put the focus back on effort, rather than innate talent. Gifted children are often very used to excelling (and therefore garnering a lot of praise) without having to put in a lot of work. When they are faced with tasks that require a lot of time in order to succeed, gifted children may feel that they have hit the limits of their ability, and experience stress as a result. Help them be realistic in terms of their expectations for the relationship between time invested and results. 
  • Sometimes gifted children who are grouped together can engage in intense competition. Do not get involved in this competition by comparing your child to others. Make sure that your child knows that you appreciate his uniqueness by supporting the path that he wants to take, even if it is not the most prestigious one.
  • Consider limiting the number of accelerated classes and/or extracurricular activities that your student can be involved in. Help students find activities outside of school where the focus is on enjoyment, not for the purpose of eventually filling out a college application. Make sure children have outlets for self-expression in an area that they enjoy, through activities such as writing, art, music or physical activity. Try to provide opportunities for unstructured time engaged in such activities; otherwise, lessons or clubs may feel like one more source of pressure.
  • Make sure that gifted students know that even if they feel burned out or disillusioned about school, they still need to be polite to teachers. Many gifted students are taught that they are as smart (or smarter) than adults, and therefore have the right to question and/or mistreat those that they feel are being unfair or giving them “busy work.” Talk to children about making choices on what assignments to work on when prioritizing, but also help them understand that they have to accept the consequences of their choices. Teach them how to stand up for themselves and question by being assertive without being rude or disrespectful. 
  • Think about whether your child is in an environment that suits his needs, temperament, and learning style. Sometimes the best way to deal with stress is to remove oneself from an environment that is unhealthy and not going to change. Your child may need to switch to a school or learning track that is a better fit. Talk to your child about what might make school a better experience, and if he is interested in making a change. Ask about his favorite and least favorite teachers, and what their classrooms and assignments are like, to help gauge what would be a best fit.
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