Here is the story of Kevin. Kevin is an 11-year-old boy considered normal and healthy with a love for videogames and science fiction. He is extremely personable and chatty with family and strangers alike. Kevin also suffers from dramatic mood swings, lack of friendships within his peer group, and suicidal thoughts. Kevin has a recorded IQ in the 120s, which is considered above average or superior.
His high IQ was not known until he was tested at age 11. Until this time, Kevin was labeled with having ADHD, being borderline autistic, and having an anxiety disorder. His teachers considered him a classroom disruptor and his parents were often called to school to remove him. This led to extreme disturbances at the home, depression, and eventual home schooling.
High IQ children tend to have an increased risk of developing behavioral, social, and emotional problems. While they maintain high-charted IQ numbers, their emotional IQ lags far behind. They often feel separated from their age group and have few to no friends. Gifted children are often mislabeled with ADHD, anxiety disorders, or some degree of autism before their intelligence is known or discovered. This lack of not knowing tends to place extreme stress on the child, and his/her frustration at being different is acutely felt and reflected in their behavior.
Today, Kevin attends weekly therapy sessions to grapple with his behavior and the feelings of isolation that his intelligence brings. His parents have built strong support systems for Kevin including counseling, social skills development, and stimulating learning environments and watched how he has flourished in this changed approach to his well-being. While Kevin still has a long way to go with his personal development, he is on the right track and has positive encouragement from his family and a structured yet exciting school environment.
What can you do if you notice this behavior in your child?
- Test their IQ. As obvious as it sounds, many gifted children go many years being misunderstood and being labeled as troublemakers. Understanding if their behavior is related to intelligence is important for their development.
- Consider professional support. A child psychologist can help you explore your child’s needs and can help provide a framework for nurturing their development.
- Construct support systems. Such systems include appropriate education in social skills; development through personal, academic, and career counseling; and a network of supportive adults to act as role models, provide guidance, and offer understanding/advice. Without these avenues of support, a high IQ child will see their intelligence as hindrance instead of an asset.
- Improve the emotional IQ. Children with advanced intelligence suffering from a poor emotional IQ will go on to suffer well into their adulthood. Helping develop this will promote stronger future family and work relationships.