Bored and Bright Child
By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D
My four year old son is always bored. He has a huge
vocabulary and was talking very clearly by age 1.5. He
understands complex and abstract ideas, he can formulate his
own theories and run with ideas, he learns and understands
explanations very quickly.
For example the other day he talked about how the sun
reflected off of my pink shirt and hit the visor in the car
changing the color of the visor to pink. He has a fantastic
imagination and can articulate what he feels very well. He
is also very sensitive and cries whenever he is disappointed
or has to leave a friend. He has no real interests other
than talking and computer games. I am at a loss with how to
encourage and motivate him. Any response will be greatly
A: From what you had described
about your son's abilities, he does sound advanced for his
age, but children develop in different areas at different
speed. Although he appears rather advanced in his linguistic
skills and demonstrates intensity of emotions, he may need
some help in other areas and you may want to concentrate
your efforts on those.
But, my concern is why should he be bored at such a young
age? I am wondering what makes you think that he is bored as
there is no indication of boredom based on your description.
It is quite dangerous to assume that a child is bored and to
especially keep asking a child if s/he is bored as we are
actually introducing the concept of boredom to them. Bright
children can very quickly manipulate adults into thinking
that they are bored and not challenged enough if they feel
that it can get them away from tasks they may not enjoy
doing. This usually happens with older gifted kids.
In your case, it looks like he may not be bored after all.
Is he attending pre-school or any regular social activity?
This can be good for him. What about at home; is the
environment conducive for learning? Does he have enough
materials to learn? Do you take him out a lot? Have you
introduced him to the worlds of nature, animals, insects,
etc? Most importantly, does he enjoy books? If he has
started reading, there is very little reason for him to be
bored as one is unlikely to be out of reading materials.
For a bright kid, bored is better described as frustration
with the lack of progress. For example, at school if a child
complains of boredom, because s/he has learnt and absorbed
the material presented, there is no challenge. In that case,
educators may need to increase levels of difficulty,
challenge the child, explore depth, accelerate the subject,
and so on. This will keep the child going. Gifted children
do not give up very easily; they can be quite persistent if
they find meaning to their learning.
Perhaps, you may want to identify instances that you feel he
may be under-challenged. Being verbally advanced, you have
the advantage to have a chat with him and finding out his
interest areas. If he does not appear to have much interest
in anything, use books to generate interest – it would also
help him use his imagination for new and unexplored