The Unmet Emotional Needs of Gifted Learners: Exceptional Children Need Emotional Nurturing

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Early Comprehension

Colton is five. He understands, and can join an adult conversation. He may not comprehend every word, but by reasoning, he can figure out what the word pertains to in the sentence. Colton learned to talk at a very early age. At two, he was talking in complete sentences. Due to what his parents considered to be comprehension of his surroundings, they began to expect certain things from him. They acknowledged that he was a gifted child, and did everything they could to encourage and expand his learning capabilities.

It was obvious that Colton wanted to learn. He soaked up and retained everything around him. He was very creative, even in play. He could take blocks, toys, and cooking utensils, and build massive structures that seemed to balance on a thread. Any architect would be amazed and jealous of the stability and creativity. But with this creativity came the need for things to be a certain way. He insisted that everything had a place. When Colton played, it was really an organizational, or re-organizational time period. But to Colton, he was playing.

Cognitive vs Emotion

Although his parents nurtured his gifted learning abilities, one thing may have been overlooked. His cognitive needs were being fulfilled, but his emotional needs were not. By nurturing one talent, other talents or needs may be pushed to the back burner. Sometimes this isn’t revealed until something out of the ordinary happens to bring it all into focus. In Colton’s case, it was when he started school.

Peer Acceptance and Inapropriate Behavior

Gifted children are very logical thinkers. It is this fact that sometimes hinders their ability to socialize and be accepted by their peers. Even gifted children want acceptance from those around them. When this doesn’t happen, it may cause the gifted child emotional stress. They feel they are different, and may retreat emotionally into a shell for protection from sadness or rejection. Some children may even worry themselves to the extent of being sick. Some children may have outbursts of unacceptable behaviors.

These behaviors are not cognitive outbursts, but are caused from an emotional aspect. A gifted child wears their emotions close to the surface. They may know how to hide the tears, but the frustration may appear in other forms. Loss of appetite, hyperactivity, screaming, baby talk, and mood swings, may surface at times of emotional stress.

A Gifted Child is Still a Child

Meeting the emotional needs of a gifted child is much harder than meeting their cognitive needs. Although both require some form of comprehension, one may require a book, while the other may require a hug. It is of utmost importance to understand that a gifted child may have learning capabilities that far exceed their age, but emotionally, they may need more support than a child their age, or even younger. It is vital to remember, that a gifted child, is still a child.