An independent Preschool through Grade 12 school for gifted students.
Supporting Emotional Needs of Gifted Children 4.15.20
Dear Roeper Families,
We instinctively know that a child’s giftedness makes them seem more advanced. At Roeper, we have taken to using the word precocious as a descriptor. It is this precocity that can make us forget how old a child is chronologically as we sit and have sophisticated conversations about abstract concepts and significant issues of the day. Each of us can recall an engaging dialogue about an advanced scientific topic, a book, a political event, or some element of philosophy that we’ve had with a Roeper student where it seemed we were talking with an adult peer, or someone with advanced knowledge in a specific domain.
It is however, during a time of crisis, when it is most essential for us to remember that children are children, no matter how gifted they may be, and that young people can be easily overwhelmed by the news of the pandemic and its effect on the world. Just because a child has gifted characteristics and can process so much in so many different areas of thought and knowledge, does not mean they are emotionally able to process the world at that same level of sophistication as an adult. The difference between an academic understanding of our current crisis and the ability to emotionally hold and process that reality is what I mean by the asynchronous nature of the gifted individual.
As adults struggle to find meaning and understanding around the medical, economic, and moral challenges that are laid bare by this global pandemic, I want to remind our community of two significant traits of our gifted children. First, their ability to academically understand a great more than we expect, and second, and perhaps more importantly, the intensity of emotion and feeling that gifted children bring to crisis.
There is a fragility that exists in each gifted child that is especially present and more vulnerable in times of crisis. As you exercise self-care and provide guidance for your family, I urge you to be particularly aware of how your child’s gifted profile impacts how they process this crisis so that the intensities you may see in their behavior have greater understanding and meaning for you.
There are so many layers to how a person responds to a crisis, it is easy sometimes to forget that our gifted children are just that, children. One of the people who understands this emotional challenge and who has been a mentor to many of us at The Roeper School is Dr. Joy Lawson Davis. Dr. Lawson Davis recently wrote the column for the organization SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted). In these challenging times for both children and adults, it is good to hear Joy’s wisdom, concern, and love: "Soothing the Souls of Our Gifted Learners During the COVID-19 Crisis"