Managing stress in gifted children

It's easy to think gifted children won't get stressed out in class because they excel at learning. However, intelligent children, like others, are often anxious about grades and social expectations at school. In some cases, gifted children can become even more stressed by their education than other kids. It's important for parents and educators to know what often causes kids with high IQ scores to become stressed and anxious so they can intervene.

Extra pressure
When kids are identified as exceptional, parents as well as teachers often expect more from them. Children recognize this and start becoming anxious when they receive anything lower than an A grade. Kids are afraid of disappointing their parents, so when there is added pressure to excel at school, learning stops being fun.

More perceptive
Intelligent children usually have mature mental capacities, so they pick up on environmental cues a lot more. This awareness can lead to feeling overwhelmed by information and also worrying about the judgments of others.

It's good for kids to be ambitious, but it's time to intervene when children show signs of perfectionism. This is a bad habit for kids to fall into because it ensures they will never be satisfied with their grades, which can cause constant stress and worry, according to Education World. Gifted students can easily get caught up in this trap because they feel like their intelligence should shine through perfect grades.

It's important for parents and educators to help gifted students relax. According to, stress can ultimately lead to low performance because anxiety can make it hard for students to focus during class. Students can end up in a downward spiral because the low performance will make them even more tense and hard on themselves.  

Ways to manage stress
Parents and teachers should both implement relaxation techniques for gifted children to help manage stress. A few ideas instructors can use to help students relax after receiving a grade include:

  • Deep breathing: When people get anxious they tend to take shorter breaths. Encouraging kids to slow their breathing and take deeper breaths will help them calm down.
  • Take breaks: Don't allow kids to fixate on their work too much during class. Staring at the same piece of paper for hours can quickly cause burnout, so schedule short three- to five-minute breaks throughout class. During this time, instructors can lead a yoga exercise or play a quick game of Simon Says.

Parents can help kids at home by:

  • Modeling behavior: Acknowledge that adults get stressed out too and demonstrate ways parents handle pressure and how it works for kids.
  • Having fun: Make sure kids are not spending all of their after-school time working on homework or studying. Plan fun activities throughout the evenings to distract kids from their work and help them relax.
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