Adolescence is a prickly time for most teens but for the gifted child there are many factors that come into play that are crucial to understand in order to make these years flow smoothly.
Gifted teens work best when they can be around a diverse community of intellectual peers on a regular basis. This leads them into a sense of communion with themselves as individuals because they can see a wide variety of people rather than just a specific group to which to conform. The nature of high school and typical teen peer groups to lump people together due to age or interest can often make the gifted child feel like they don’t fit in.
Gifted teens tend to excel in certain areas and the praise and validation around these accomplishments is necessary to counteract their already innate feelings of being different. But in the high school environment, many teachers and authority figures go out of their way to make all of the youth feel equal and not point out individual achievements.
Teens often judge their peers on things like clothing, trends, and behavior. On the contrary, gifted teens tend to flaunt their individuality, being highly in tune with their inner life, which may make them feel even more outside the accepted school circles.
A gifted child may become depressed when dealing with the spirit of academic competition -- or on the other end of the spectrum be labeled over-confident or self-important -- when they are just trying to let their own light shine.
Here are some ideas that can help improve these conditions for the gifted teen:
- Encourage your child to get to know others from all grades on campus.
- Encourage your child to be his or herself while also addressing needs for guidance and boundaries.
- Keep an eye on the areas where your child is excelling or lagging behind and be willing to tackle each when it occurs with praise or solutions.
- Realize that chance factors are uncontrollable and represent authentic interaction with a living environment, creating the impetus for accelerated growth and maturation of character.
- Provide opportunities to for the child to interact with mentors and like-minded peers.
- Provide opportunities for the child to express personal responsibility and decision-making.
- Create a curriculum that integrates required subjects with interesting, after school activities that your child specifically likes.
Acknowledging and empowering a teen to find and then fully embody their true self can make all the difference between a successful or difficult teenage experience.