Can being especially smart become a problem?
The most common is that intelligence is associated with the ability to adapt, so that it is taken for granted that children with high capacities do not need to go hand in hand with the adult to overcome the different challenges that are posed in the school environment, social and family.
This is not necessarily the case and, on occasions, children with high capacities can have adaptation problems.
“Gifted children can have adjustment problems.”
In the following lines, it will be reviewed what attitudes children with high capacities have to be able to address their possible difficulties, preventing having a gifted child from becoming a problem, coming to perceive their high capacities as, even, a tragedy.
What does it mean to have the high capacities?
The high capacity is a term that includes many forms of expression intelligence, the most notable being:
- Simple talents : In this case, the person stands out in a specific area or aptitude, showing a medium or even low development in the others.
- Multiple talents: Combination of several simple talents, thus configuring a differentiated intellectual profile.
- Giftedness : High intellectual capacity in all areas and above-average creativity, which allows them to have a broad domain of general knowledge and deal with any type of information.
- Genius : It implies being gifted or having some talent, but to a maximum degree of creativity and productivity.
Special characteristics of gifted children.
Given that the gifted (whose IQ is higher than 130) have special characteristics compared to other children, the most significant ones are described below:
Special characteristics at the intellectual level.
- Early development of metacognitive abilities , automate skills and mechanical processing.
- Great capacity for observation and memory. Taste for systematization.
- Intense intellectual curiosity that leads to easy, fast, deep and super specialized learning.
“Intense intellectual curiosity from a very young age is usually a typical trait of the gifted.”
- Greater maturity when processing information, that is, they understand and relate abstract and complex ideas .
- Intense need for intellectual stimuli and learning with great intuitive leaps .
- Great ability to solve complex problems by having great flexibility and fluidity of creative and original thoughts .
- High imaginative and vivid ability .
Special characteristics on an emotional level .
- Asynchronous development, that is, ideas, emotions and concepts inappropriate for their age due to the mismatch between their intellectual level and their emotional maturity (or fine motor skills). E.g. precocious moral and existential concerns .
- Ability to get deeply emotional and develop strong bonds with people, places or things ( emotional hypersensitivity and stimulation ).
- Greater sensitivity to criticism and injustice , being able to present attacks of anger that can be confused with conduct disorders. Nonconformity .
- Great emotional memory .
Special characteristics at the behavioral level.
- Self-criticism and perfectionism , sometimes excessive, which can condition their actions for fear of failure.
- Distraction and even disorganization as an adaptation mechanism, to avoid sensory overload. Perseverance .
- High level of activity and impatience.
- Deep curiosity that can lead you to ask engaging questions in an inquisitive way , giving the impression of being a disrespectful and even defiant child.
- Questioning the rules when they do not seem logical or argued enough due to their ability to develop and follow their own criteria.
- Hypersensitivity that can lead to a low tolerance for frustration , being able to overreact or with very big tantrums.
- High capacity for abstraction that results in productivity , yielding double or even triple that of a person with an average intellectual capacity.
- Shyness, loneliness and introversion . Feeling of misunderstanding.
- Independence when carrying out their work, without the help of their parents.
- Apparent pedantry or pretentiousness.
“It is not uncommon for the child with high abilities to fall into pedantry.”
- Likes to interact with adults and play intellectually demanding games.
- Sensitivity in the treatment . Leadership .
- Acute and critical sense of humor , sometimes not understood by others.
Are high abilities and giftedness hereditary? What is the percentage of children with high abilities?
Numerous investigations have shown that biological inheritance contributes greatly to intellectual capacity , this being an innate quality. However, it has also been shown that it is necessary to have an adequate environment in which the child is stimulated and cared for correctly, so that it can develop this potential.
“The gifted child is born with high capacities, but requires a suitable environment to fully develop them.”
According to the Ministry of Education, in the 2016/17 academic year in Spain, only 0.33% of the total enrolled students had high abilities , that is, a total of 27,133 students (a figure that also varied greatly between the different autonomous communities).
Regarding the distribution by sex, although the data should be equivalent, it has been found that the percentage of girls is lower and they are diagnosed later. Some psychologists explain these results with what is called queen bee syndrome , that is, girls decide to sacrifice their cognitive development in order to be accepted by the group. In this way, the girls choose to go unnoticed, dedicating themselves to drawing or reading when they are bored, so that the teachers would not perceive their potential.
Myths about gifted children.
Here are some myths or false beliefs that have high abilities:
“All parents think they have gifted children.”
Contrary to popular belief, several longitudinal studies show that, unlike parents whose children have an intellectual capacity within the average, parents of children with high capacities tend to underestimate their children’s abilities, considering them within the half.
“All children have high capacities in some area.”
While it is true that everyone has strengths within their range of abilities, gifted children have exceptional abilities that differ greatly from those of the average student.
“Having a student with high abilities in the classroom will make others catch up with him.”
Different investigations have found that, even in the case that the child with high capacities adjusted his learning rhythm to that of the rest of his classmates, when the education is appropriate, the distance between the two students widens over time despite having The same age.
This is because both developmental trajectories are different even though they share the environment, as intellectual capacity continues to be uneven.
“Children with high capacities do not need help, as they do not have learning difficulties”
This statement is not true because these children may have special needs with respect to the pace and form of learning -different to the usual-, which are not usually taken into account as they are neglected in order to meet the most basic needs of the group of class.
Likewise, children with high capacities may also have a learning disorder (ADHD, dyslexia, dyscalculia, etc.), which usually represents an added difficulty in diagnosing the minor.
“Intellectually very good, but …”.
Although people with high capacities tend to be thought of as academic, eccentric and not very skilled in social relationships, the truth is that they are a highly heterogeneous group. This means that, although they have a series of common characteristics with respect to their intellectual potential, there is no universal trait that identifies them, nor are there any social or motor decompensations.
Possible problems associated with being gifted or having high abilities.
As in the rest of the population, the emotional and social adaptation of these people will depend mainly on the opportunities that their environment provides them. In this way, some of the traits that most define people with high capacities can generate a difficulty despite assuming, in principle, an evolutionary advantage.
Low academic performance.
Perhaps one of the most well-known problems is that children with high abilities may have poor academic performance because they often show difficulty in tolerating the usual learning model , which is boring because it is based on repetition, making it monotonous. and slow.
In fact, such is their high level of mental activation that they can become physically activated when they do not receive the necessary stimulation , showing difficulty in relaxing or even falling asleep.
On the other hand, his great capacity for observation and analysis means that his attentional level may depend excessively on the interest that the task arouses in him, adopting an impractical strategy by neglecting those that do not arouse his interest without taking too much consideration their objective importance, affecting thus at their level of concentration when they are not engaged in said task.
“Highly gifted children are indefatigable when they research a topic that they are passionate about.”
On the other hand, when the task awakens their curiosity, they tirelessly seek information, and may even come to seem arrogant to others due to their high level of knowledge and their great verbal ability, as well as because of their impatience with the slowness of others.
In this regard, it should be noted that, although children with high abilities may have low academic performance when they do not find motivation in their studies, gifted children tend to maintain normal academic performance , which is why their performance may go unnoticed. high intellectual level.
Loneliness and misunderstanding.
It is convenient to point out that this arrogance can also be detected – with more or less success – thanks to the acute and critical sense of humor they possess, which they can use to attack the other in a hidden way. However, sometimes it is a humor without evil, but that may not be understood by the rest, generating confusion in the person with high capacities.
Although gifted people tend to have great empathy, this type of situation can lead people with high capacities to feel that they are different from the rest, being able to fall into a certain social isolation, feeling lonely and misunderstood , seeking to go unnoticed. In addition, their enormous imagination and great ability to fantasize can amply stimulate them, so that they would not make the effort to try to relate to others because they do not need them to be entertained.
“The child with high capacities can get to feel lonely and misunderstood.”
In this sense, their hypersensitivity makes them very aware of their emotions, being able to present difficulties in managing them , being especially sensitive in situations of failure, criticism or rejection. However, contrary to what it may seem, this is not what makes them avoid getting involved in activities that could lead to failure , but it is their high level of perfectionism and meticulousness that usually lead them to set goals that are too high and that they end up disappointing them.
Rigidity and intransigence.
It should be noted that this level of scrupulousness is also reflected in their firm sense of justice and in their moral values, since they tend to be intransigent and angry when they realize that others do not act according to their moral values .
In this regard, people with high capacities can become rigid and intolerant of other people’s points of view, thereby manifesting their independence of opinion and disagreement in the sense that they tend to question the established guidelines and conventions of the environment when they do not They fit your opinions or when they are illogical to you.
As expected, these situations can lead the person with high capacities to use their great verbal capacity to challenge, offend or manipulate the other person, in order to organize their environment, and can give the impression of being an overly dominant person or bossy.
Likewise, it is important to note that their hypersensitivity and high worries coupled with their possibly excessive self-demand can lead them to end up developing psychosomatic illnesses (headache, abdominal pain, tachycardia…) or mood disorders (anxiety, depression…).
Regarding the latter, it is important to note that children’s symptoms differ to a certain extent from those of adults, and can manifest themselves through a changed appetite (loss or increase), sleep disorders (insomnia or hypersomnia), low self-esteem, difficulties in attention and concentration, irritability, feeling of lack of family affection or hopelessness.
In this sense, it must be taken into account that these are children with a greater sensitivity than usual, which can make them the object of bullying .
“Sometimes the gifted child can be bullied at school.”
Given the enormous importance that the intellectual development of the child has on their physical, emotional and social well-being, the next blog post will address different strategies both at an educational and parental level to enhance the development of capacities and guarantee the psychological health of the child.
Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.