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Gifted Children and Sensitivity

CECSensitivity is usually at the top in lists of gifted characteristics. Accordingly, parents often ask me, "What does sensitivity really mean? My gifted child can't even remember family birthdays."

Your gifted child may very well be both emotionally sensitive and intellectually sensitive; that is, acutely aware of everything in his environment and within himself.

Intellectual sensitivity refers to an openness to ideas, which allows your child to be receptive to his own imaginative creativity and that of others. Emotional and social sensitivity -- an acute awareness of other people and the environment -- allows a child to sense the emotional temperature in a room, heightened tension, for example.

Heightened emotional and social sensitivity affects your child's perception of expectations from peers, parents, and other adults, and may be accompanied by heightened vulnerability to criticism, suggestions, and emotional appeals from others. One problem is that well-meaning parents, relatives, friends, siblings, and teachers are often eager to add their own expectations to the bright child's own dreams, plans, and goals. Sometimes, the greater the child's talent, the greater the expectations and outside interference.

Keep in mind that although your child may be emotionally sensitive, it does not make him emotionally mature. His reactions and behavior to people and events may be age appropriate but seem immature when compared to his sophisticated intellectual and emotional awareness.

When we understand just how much gifted children absorb from every environment, we can support them in times of stress.

This quote from Pearl Buck helps me understand a gifted child's sensitivity.

"The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive.

To him...
a touch is a blow,
a sound is a noise,
a misfortune is a tragedy,
a joy is an ecstasy,
a friend is a lover,
a lover is a god,
and failure is death.
Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create - - - so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating."
-Pearl Buck-
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