The Frustrations of Gifted Children

The frustrations gifted children struggle with become created both internally and externally. Internal frustrations are often due to the well documented extreme sensitivities which many gifted children experience.  Be it sounds , tastes, or the way things “feel”, such experiences are often mildly irritating to even impairing at times. Compare their experience to having to wear an extremely uncomfortable and poor fitting pair of shoes and one can gain a small idea of their sense of irritation.

Internal frustrations also evolve from the gifted child’s perfectionistic drives which are often without any type of rational assessment.  Even if the child simply lacks the physical maturation to complete a task as they perceive it must be completed, they continue to judge their performance in an unrealistic manner.  Complicating this is the child’s potential to project their own internal perfectionistic demands onto their parents and teachers. Now the child’s world becomes an unrealistic harsh and unforgiving environment where constant criticism is expected—moving an internal frustration into an external frustration resulting in the child becoming a victim along with other unpleasant interpersonal experiences.

External frustrations also emerge from low interest, repetitive school work that holds no intellectual interest or challenge which may lead to an underachieving gifted child or even worse—a behavior problem.  Other external frustrations include a sense of not “fitting in” with one’s peers resulting in a sense of aloneness along with being forced into activities which hold no interest for them but perhaps because apparent believes that by doing so their child will “fit in”

Parents can help by understanding the basis of their child’s frustrations and responding in ways to decrease their severity. Helping the child learn how to place things in a rational perspective (parents too!) can help tremendously—think of a scale of 1-10.  1 means whatever the situation is, it holds little to no importance.  A 10 means the ambulance has to come! (Many gifted children only view the world in extremes-teach the “shades of grey”.  Finally, how parents manage their own frustrations serves as the most important model for their children.