Home > School and Learning > Learning Differences > Gifted Education > Gifted Son Never Seems Happy
|

Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Gifted Son Never Seems Happy

Gifted and Talented Expert Advice from Mary Ruth Coleman, Ph.D.

Q: My eight-year-old gifted son is generally very happy and has finally developed socially; however, he is very difficult to make happy. For example, at Christmas or birthdays, you could do and buy everything possible and yet he would still be disappointed. He gets upset and tries to tell you that he's happy, all the while appearing quite depressed. He can be very hard to please, and it takes an emotional toll on our family. What can I do?

A: Many gifted children seem to have a heightened sensitivity and even positive experiences, like a birthday or Christmas, can cause undo stress. The main thing is to keep things as calm as possible. Reduce the "hype" and focus on the goodness of the day in a calm way. This should help. The over-sensitivity is not so much "unhappiness," as it is a stress related to both performance anxiety and expectations. Reducing the focus on the day will relieve some of the pressure.

You can also talk with your son quietly about how different things bring out stress for different people and that it's okay to sit back a bit and not "jump for joy" over things and presents. In this way, you might reduce your own expectations of a reaction from him when he receives a gift. Some children take time to warm up to new things; for them, opening a present and saying thank you is a positive response. Let him work with this in his own way. Don't misinterpret his solemn approach to holidays as being disappointed -- he's likely to be coping with his strong feelings in the best way he knows how!

More on: Expert Advice

Mary Ruth Coleman is the director of Project U-STARS (Using Science Talent and Abilities to Recognize Students) at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Coleman has taught in both general and gifted educational programs in both public and private schools.


Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

highlights

Join BIC on our mission to save handwriting and Fight For Your Write! Writing helps kids become better readers, boosts their confidence and sparks their creativity. Visit BICFightForYourWrite.com to sign our petition to save handwriting!

7 Tips for Reading Aloud to Babies & Toddlers
The AAP advises reading aloud to babies and toddlers because it boosts brain power and has many other benefits. Get some tips for making the most of story time with your tot!

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

How to Survive Summer Boredom
When the kids are home all day, every day, summer boredom strikes hard and fast. Learn the best summer boredom busters and tips for surviving until September.

12 Birthday Party Favors that Won't Get Thrown Away
The next time you're planning a birthday, forgo the penny candy and cheap toys. Send your guests home with one of these fun and creative party favor ideas!