Gifted Child with Behavioral Problems
By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D
Hi! I'm a single mother of two gifted boys (ages 12 and 9). I'm
worried about my eldest son. I think he has some behavioral
problems. He does not have any friends in school and he plays
with kids younger than his age at home. He said that kids of
his age could not understand his interests. He doesn't like
school so his grades are low except for science which he is
really interested in. He gets straight A's in science even with
little effort. He does not care about his grades anyway. He
would say that at least it's passing.
He argues like why he
needs to go to school when he can learn stuff from the internet
and from watching discovery and history channels. He has a
tendency to argue with adults and complain on tasks given to
him. He has even told me (when he was 6) "I'm not a robot.
Why are you controlling me?" when I told him to follow
some house rules.
He is also very messy and his things are all
over the place. Until now he could not master where he should
put his shoes after coming from school. I've read about gifted
kids with ADD but his former teacher (when he was 7) said that
he only needs to be motivated and understood. His former school
(when he was 11) put him on a regular counseling saying that he
has some problems on social skills.
Right now, I feel that he has a negative
attitude in life. He would sometimes say that he is depressed
and would ask what life is all about/his purpose in life. This
worries me. I just want him to have a happy life.
What do you think is wrong with him?
p/s: I just forgot to mention in my letter
(question) that my eldest son was accelerated in school. He
skipped 1st grade and will now be attending 8th grade this
It doesn't seem to me that he has any attention disorder. This
looks like something that has been there for a while,
unattended or unrealized, causing further complications in his
behavior. The fact that he was accelerated may have done some
damage to his social life and behavior as he may not have been
able to cope with older children at school. A few questions
need to be addressed:
When did he start complaining about his friends at school?
Why do younger children interest him more that his peers?
Have you tried speaking to his teachers about why he may
have problems with his social skills?
You mentioned counseling; hence it was obvious that the
teachers did see some behavioral issues that needed attention.
How has counseling helped?
Have you been in touch with his counselor?
Is he undergoing counseling in his current school as well?
Do you, in any way, compare him with his sibling?
Gifted children remain children, regardless of their
talents. Hence, it is not surprising that there may be some
unevenness in development among the various domains. Therefore,
as gifted as they may be cognitively, they may have difficulty
with fine motor skills, being responsible for their belongings,
or making friends. Parents should always be aware of this.
From your description, I feel that he is avoiding people, so
much so that school does not interest him. Since he shows
promise in Science, has the school or have you given him any
attention/credit for his achievements? He needs to be
encouraged and the older he gets the harder it becomes. I
somehow feel that his problem is deeper than what you have
mentioned, perhaps due to something that happened when he was
very young. The best thing to do is to seek help from a child
psychologist. Discuss this with his teachers or school
counselor and try to get him referred to a child psychologist
who may be able to assess the gravity of his problem and advise
you on the next step. I suggest you do this as soon as possible.