Social and Emotional Needs

For Students Who Are Talented and Gifted


"'Gifted and talented children’ are those identified as possessing outstanding abilities that are capable of high performance. Gifted and talented children are children who require appropriate instruction and educational services commensurate with their abilities and needs beyond those provided by the regular school program” (Iowa Code 257.44). Due to the uniqueness of these children comes along special social and emotional needs as well. The following strategies are provided to better help your child or the children you teach.

Strategy #1: Decrease Perfectionism

Perfectionists often are never completely happy with their work. Perfectionism can be learned or a struggle the child has dealt with from very early on. Perfectionism can lead to low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy.

Tips to Try:
  • Allow mistakes
  • Encourage the child to try new things
  • Set realistic expectations
  • Praise hard work, not just right answers or being perfect
  • Set goals

Strategy #2: Be Aware of Intensities

Children who are talented and gifted may display intensities in the following areas: intellectually, imaginational, sensual, physically, and emotionally. Children may become especially interested in certain topics and move quickly through the content, thinking deeply about what they are learning. They are often full of creativity, which can lead to daydreaming or doodling while instruction is taking place. Some children experience an increase of input from their five senses, which can be physically overwhelming. There are some children who seem to have too much energy and it can be due to being emotionally intensified.

Tips to Try:

  • Allow choice when possible
  • Allow time to explore topics of interest
  • Assign open-ended creative projects
  • Be a good listener without judgement
  • Give students an opportunity to "cool down" if needed
  • Provide experiences that allow the child to move around
  • Assign projects that allow the child to construct an object

Strategy #3: Acceptance

All children want to be accepted and fit in with their peers. There can be many issues that arise for children who are talented and gifted when it comes to acceptance with their peers due to the differences in social and cognitive development.

Tips to Try:

  • Allow friends according to interests
  • Be aware of conflict
  • Do not compare the child to other children
  • Have discussions about social skills, being a good listener, and being respectful to everyone
  • Allow the child to work with others that have similar abilities

Strategy #4: Promote Responsibility

At times, children who are talented or gifted may struggle with responsibility. We may see issues with homework completion due to lost assignments or not being able to manage their time effectively. Their desk at school or room at home may be messy or unorganized. These children will need help in learning how to manage their work load at both home and school.

Tips to Try:

  • Teach good time management and organizational skills
  • Use a calendar at home and school to help keep track of activities and due dates
  • Model the importance of turning in completed assignments on time

Strategy #5: Build Self-Esteem

A child's self esteem can be affected by experiences they have academically, socially, and emotionally. Children who are talented or gifted may feel like they cannot be themselves and need to be brought down to others' levels.

Tips to Try:
  • Allow the child to have control and make decisions if possible
  • Praise often and criticize in private
  • Provide opportunities to develop social skills
  • Encourage the child to take risks
  • Model how to handle mistakes



  • Figg S, Rogers K, McCormick, J, and Low, R. (2012). Differentiating Low Performance of the Gifted Learner: Achieving, Underachieving, and Selective Consuming Students
  • Pagnani, A. Gifted Underachievement: Root Causes and Reversal Strategies
  • Peterson, J. (2009). Myth 17: Gifted and Talented Individuals Do Not Have Unique Social and Emotional Needs
  • Pyrt, M.(2004). Helping Gifted Students Cope with Perfectionism
  • Nicpon, M. (2014). Tips for Parents: Anxiety, Sensitivities, and Social Struggles among Profoundly Gifted Kids
  • The Gifted Resource Center. The Procrastinator's Guide to the Galaxy, and Other Important Spots in the Universe