While there are external indicators that signal distress in a child, such as family violence, emotional abuse or trauma, there is one condition that can remain undetected: loneliness.
Exceptionally Gifted Children typically experience a kind of inner tension that arises from the awareness of their acute sensitivity, uncommonness of their condition and the scarcity of those who can relate to them and guide them on their path. The company of other children can be profoundly unsatisfying and stressful to such a gifted child, whose desire for deeper meaning, fairness and logic, and the need to feel alive, mostly goes unmet. In fact, many such children seek out the company of adults, hoping for more nourishment in those who are more mature.
However, what happens when:
Inevitably, she realizes that even adults cannot keep up with the intensity of her drive and the relentless depth of her questioning?
At some point, he begins to crave the company of those his own age?
As he matures into a young adult, he is aware of never meeting a person such as himself?
How can we identify and heal this existential loneliness and the inner distress that is linked to it?
First, we can recognize the courage of such a gifted child: what a challenge it must be to keep moving forward in the hope that she will be able to find her way within society, to connect with another who shares a similar outlook and set of challenges!
As a professional in this field, I believe that it is essential to partner these children in the belief that they have their own unique value and gifts to share, and to embrace their differences versus seeing them as weaknesses. I have found that unconditionally acknowledging and accepting the full spectrum of these children’s feelings and experiences goes a long way in helping them to release tension, feel validated and begin to develop a healthy trust in themselves and another.
Active listening, with care and presence, managing your own discomfort and resisting the urge to provide a “quick fix” via a platitude or a “one-size-fits-all” solution, are ways to support your child in holding a healthy self-esteem and self-acceptance. Staying grounded and centered as your child expresses such wisdom and insights, unbelievably perceptive viewpoints and ideas, can assist in managing your own feelings of amazement or puzzlement at the brilliance of your child. This parental control also helps to assure her that this is a safe place to be seen and heard, and can safely put her on the path to growing up, without fear.
Another tip for parents is to process your own grief, disappointment and anxiety that your child is unlike other children, and will support you in seeing your child exactly as she is. You will be surprised as you lift your own fear thoughts off your child, you will recognize that they add nothing of value and may, in fact, have nothing to do with the reality of your child and how his life will turn out.
You may also consider finding a supportive role-model for yourself and your child who could alleviate the isolation and pressure of raising such an exceptional child.
Finally, I wonder, is there any such thing as a normality in a child? Are we doing our gifted children a disservice in trying to make them fit in by adjusting to the norm – or should we allow them to gift us all with the brilliance of their vision?
I’d be delighted to read any comments you would be willing to share in the section below.
Marion Franc is a Mentor and Coach for gifted children, and their parents. To enquire about mentoring possibilities for yourself and your child, you can send an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Caring for the Gifted Child