I work with a lot of bright children. Children destined to get A and A * grades and what I have noticed is that most people look at them in envy, wishing they could be them, wishing they could be as intelligent and find exams as easy as they do. Some even question all the work and extra help that goes into helping bright kids because let's face it, they are going to do well anyway!
However, what most don't understand is that gifted and talented children come with their own set of challenges and most are diagnosed with some disorder, often anxiety, because being bright is not as easy as it sounds and not for the reasons you are probably thinking.
So I am going to throw a big word at you, well it's big for me anyway. Asynchronous Development - so what is this new word in our vocabulary?
In essence it is the fact that, for children with high IQ, often their development is out of sync. In most children, intellectual, physical, and emotional development progress at about the same rate. In children with higher IQ this tends to be out of sync when they are younger, so their intellect can be way above their social skills, for example. The crux of it is that gifted children can often feel like misfits when they are younger because their minds are often way ahead of their others skills. If parents, teachers and those around them don't understand, this can exacerbate the problem, making the child feel like they have something wrong with them, which will stay with them into and beyond their teenage years.
Because of their sharp minds, gifted children can often think deeply about things, way too intensely, leading to all sorts of distortions. Because of their intensive thoughts they will often discuss very complex issues like global warming and death, yet not have the adult complexities to rationalise it. This can lead them to over-thinking to such an extreme that it can cause acute anxieties or depression. Most gifted teens I speak to often don't understand; the disorders they have labelled themselves with are perhaps more to do with their high-level thinking.
Bright children can also be hugely manipulative; let's face it they often learn really quickly how to manipulate the adults around them to get what they want. If this is not checked and dealt with they can grow up quite narcissistic, expecting everybody to bow to their needs and never learning the consequences of their actions. In boys in particular, this will cause them to become emotive about life and school work and apathetic to life.
They are often misunderstood because of their advanced thinking and advanced vocabulary and will often feel like they don't belong with people of their own age. They will often seek older children and adults to have conversations with, which can ostracize them for the friendship groups among their own.
Because they are use to getting things right most of the time and are often paraded on their sharp minds they can grow into young adults with huge personal issues, which can drive them to despair, often failing to get things in on time or causing them undue amount of stress because something had to be 100% perfect.
I think with gifted children it is vital if not essential that we create opportunities for them to make fools of themselves, to fail and stop, making them think.
Often, when I see them at 14+, a lot of these are embedded beliefs and I have to do a lot of work with them to help them understand that perhaps they are not odd or different, just sharper of mind. Because in my experience, when they understand the reasons they may have felt odd all their lives and accept it, they can start to create new narratives and new ways of being in the world.
If we are working with, parenting or teaching bright children we must also recognise that it isn't as easy for them as it looks.