Help with Highly Gifted Child

Updated on December 26, 2012
K. asks from Henderson, NV
21 answers

My 9-year-old daughter has been tested and classified as Highly Gifted (HG). Her IQ is 150+, but her behavior at school is terrible. I'm told this is normal for HG kids, but her problems at school are getting so bad that I don't know what to do. We can't homeschool and the private schools that meet her intellectual needs won't meet her emotional ones. Are any other mamas going through the same thing? My husband and I feel so alone in this.

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So What Happened?

I wrote the original posting when I was very upset and failed to provide important info. My daughter was tested for ADHD, Asperger's and Bipolar Disorder when she was five. The neuropsychologist said she was gifted with a verbal IQ of 137. She started having behavior problems in preschool that continued on into the public school she currently attends. Mostly it's that she talks alot, will play with things in her desk when she's bored, will argue with the teacher when she thinks the teacher's wrong, argues with other kids, etc. We've had her in therapy for two years to work on anxiety and anger management and an additional year of group therapy for social skills. We eat as much organically as possible, I have her on fish oil and we avoid processed foods and anything with artificial colors/flavors. She attends church every week and participates in several extracurricular activities. We spend tons of time talking everyday about feelings, how to treat other people, thinking of others' feelings, etc. and she continually has priveliges taken away for misbehavior. She is also in a pull-out GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) program at school where she is pulled out of her regular class three hours a week for higher level work. It was her GATE teacher who recommended that we have her tested for Highly Gifted. She scored 151 on the Stanford Binet IV, which is what our district uses. We are also having her tested for Asperger's again, but I won't have the results of that back until next week. Based on what the school psych has said so far, it's sounding like she's not going to find for the Asperger's. So anyway. That's the story. Thanks so much to all of you who responsed. I guess I just wanted to know there were others out there struggling like me!

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answers from Columbus on

What kind of behavior?

Do you have her IQ subtests, does she have any relative weaknesses that are two or more standard devetions below either her highest sub test or her full scale score? Which IQ test did they give her?


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answers from Los Angeles on

Hello K., I too have a 9 year old that was tested HG. She was acting out in class due to being bored. I left her in that class for the rest of the school year just because I didn't want to find a new school for her mid year. I have now enrolled her in a HG Magnet school for the fall so I hope that will help her out. Hopefully she will find the work more to her level and not be bored. I put her in the magnet program since her teacher and the principal said it would be best for her. Good luck and you are not alone.

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answers from Honolulu on

since she is gifted... is she in the school's gifted program?
Or, has she simply been advanced in grade? skipping a grade or more?
If so, then naturally, her emotional development will NOT be on par, nor even close to the other kids who are Older, than she. And she will naturally be more 'immature' than the older kids, and even not accepted because she is 'younger.'
So this in itself can cause problems.

So since you said the private schools don't meet her emotional needs and you can't home-school, is she then at a public school?

I imagine, her behavior... is reflecting frustration, inability to cope, inability to handle social situations/or friends, feeling left out maybe because she is 'different'... or is she just not very pleasant?

I know 3 families, with gifted kids:

1) one of them has a daughter in private school that skipped 2 grades. BUT, she is NOT emotionally the same as the other girls because she is younger. It makes her sad. But the other kids leave her out because she is younger and can't do what they do. They talk about boys and kissing and doing things that teens do... but she is not that age nor in that stage of life yet. But they allowed her to skip grades because she is "smart" and very gifted. Intellectually. But not socially nor emotionally. She hardly has friends at school.

2) The other family has a boy, a tween, that is very gifted and uber genius. He remains at his grade level and goes to private school. (the parents did not want him to skip grades because he is emotionally immature). BUT... he has peer problems and problems socially... because he is SO arrogant and impatient and bossy with ANYONE, even adults. His "excuse" is ... "I'm smarter than everyone... I know better..." So, that is his problem. He cannot "tolerate" anyone else... who he deems not to be on his same level. He has mega social problems and emotional problems.

3) Another family we know with a gifted son. They spent a TON of time on him, on their own... nurturing himself... inwardly. His being, his emotions, social skills, people skills, having a relationship with him of respect but not treating him anymore "special" than the next kid. They treated him NORMALLY... but nurtured his talents and challenged him intellectually... but did not focus on how "smart" he was... but focused on developing him as a human being. He, because of his parents.. grew up as a normal kid, had friends, was caring and emotionally grounded. He did not use his 'genius' as a point of reference... for his self conduct.

all the best,

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answers from Portland on

Hi K.,

I'm not sure what issues you are having, but I've worked with many very smart kids in the past who have issues with behavior. I think they have a hard time with the interpersonal skills. Here are some books I read that helped:

More Hot Stuff to help kids Chill out by Jerry Wilde- This book I had to special order, but it's worth it. It's like a workbook for your kid so they learn their anger cues!!

The Explosive Child By Ross Greene- GREAT!

Taming the Dragon in your Child- Meg Eastman- Wonderful for learning how to work with different personalities.

R. Magby

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answers from Los Angeles on

I myself was identified the same way at 7yrs old with an IQ of 150+. The behavior that stood out at the time was a switch from being a model student to being one that talked during class, didn't get my work done, etc. It was because I was bored out of my mind. This boredom and acting out is often the cause of behavior issues in gifted students.

However, there was no "terrible" behavior beyond that. I had a friend also in the same category, and while he tended to act out more than I did, his behavior was never "terrible". So my first tip would be not to assume that the bad behavior is entirely an inevitable result of her genius IQ. Please don't take offense at that! It's just that highly intelligent children can he highly effective at manipulating adults, yet not always effective at communicating what they really need, because they actually may not know why they feel the frustrations they do. It may be that more extensive communication and a slightly firmer hand are what's needed. Also high intelligence does sometimes come with a little "eccentricity", but that doesn't have to manifest in a negative way.

As for the school issue, that may be even tougher. The public school system is no longer able to truly cater to gifted children because the curriculum must be the same. All kids, at every level, must pass the state tests, and teachers do not have the time to delve into other enriching materials. The policies generally include the concept of adding more depth on the same subject matter for the gifted kids, but in reality that rarely works out. So it comes down to the teachers skill and desire to make sure a gifted student is challenged. I'm not sure what you mean by the comment that the private schools won't meet her emotional needs. If you're referring to her behavior, then that only backs up my point that it's not necessarily "normal" for high IQ kids to have bad behavior. If it were, then the private schools for gifted kids would be prepared for the challenge.

Personally, my instinct is to say that the behavior issues need to be addressed with her IQ in mind, but only that. I would suggest that you investigate what could be at the source of her behavior, whether it be anger over something, frustrations with people or school, even feeling too much pressure to perform. There are a lot of possibilities. But her high IQ is probably the least contributing factor. I hope this helps!

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answers from Los Angeles on

I found Brandy's response interesting. I also have a high-functioning/Asperger 6 year old who is smart. The psychologist who tested her is estimating that her IQ will settle around the 140 area. I don't know what your daughter's issues are, so I can't just say it can be Asperger's when I don't know your daughter's issues.

From what I've read, children with high IQs can have behavior issues without being on the autism spectrum. They can experience a lot of the same issues, such as difficulty sleeping at night (due to having a hard time turning their brain off). I recommend getting her help via a therapist and finding an educational program that will be helpful to her. Also, it may not hurt to read up on Asperger's in girls just to see if you can eliminate that as a possibility.

Good luck!

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answers from Eugene on

I recently attended a seminar at the U of Oregon dealing with their findings of girls with autism. Please know I am NOT saying your child has this, but they have some very interesting findings in their recent studies. It has appeared that girls who are on the spectrum are being missed because their autism presents differently. People with asperegers often times have very high IQ, but have low social skills. Is it possible her behavior is due to the fact that she can't relate to the other kids? I am not sure what behaviors you are really dealing with, but it must be hard... Your daughter has amazing gifts!!!! My daughter has high functioning autism ( most likely aspergers) and I would never have caught it without my brother who is a developmental specialist. She is now 6 and is so so smart! However, her behavior can be so difficult. They made her start in a typical class, but she soon started hitting kids, pulling hair, she was cutting her jeans up!!I was so stressed! I thought to myself, she has scissors and you are NOT watching her, it just takes her 1 second to stab a child. Anyway, we pulled her out of there and put her in a class that has only 3 other kids! It was a huge blessing. You are not alone. I feel your pain too. It is so hard to have a child that is "different" Many people do NOT understand and do not know how to relate. Mamapedia is such a great group of woman. Here is a big hug for you! Email me if you want to talk.

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answers from Dallas on

Could she do a transfer to another school in the district? You may try and see if there maybe a school that has teacher that would better benfit her needs.


answers from Los Angeles on

i just wanted to say thank you for posting this question!
i believe our children to be exceptionally intelligent, we have never done IQ tests because my husband is against them! but his father had an IQ of 180, both hubby and myself and my siblings were put into gifted classes all throughout school, so i imagine our kids must have that gene in them!
my two older children are smart but so very disruptive (one only does it at home the other only at school)
for my oldest (who is 8) it got so bad that the teacher and principle labeled him a bully. after they did that all hope of remaining at that school was GONE. since it was the middle of the year we decided to take him out and homeschool him.
we are still working out the quirks in our education system that we have set up so i can not tell you if it is a success yet! But i will tell you that it is very hard and I am considering putting them back into public school.

its good to know that we are not alone with our sons behavior issues, and reading the responses i know now why they both give me so much trouble! at first thought i blamed myself, "i cant do this, i am a bad parent." but then i would try harder to discipline and that really doesnt work for them. taking toys away or privileges, they just dont respond the way i would have liked. i suppose we have to think outside the box with this one!

(i like that post from jennifer p. she said to sacrifice now because they are only little for a little while, that is so true! it will be worth it tenfold in ten years if you sacrifice at least three years or so to teach your child about how people should be treated, and really work on practicing kindness and courtesy. After a certain point, people get stupider with age -and hormones-, so you dont have to worry much when shes a grown up if you teach her well as a child!)



answers from Raleigh on

check out a book "parenting by the book" by John Rosemond:)



answers from Houston on

I am so sorry you all are going through this....after all, your DD is gifted and that can pose a problem to finding good teachers/schools to accomadate. I am soooo thankful that my kid is just, well, ordinary. So far as I can tell, she is not "special needs", nor does she "exceed" ordinary schools. I often wonder what parents contend with when challenged with exceptional children. Thank Goodness you have the means to provide such an education. You and your husband are NOT alone...there are so many gifted kids out there....they are feeling your pain too.

I will pray that you get an answer,
M :)



answers from San Francisco on

No charter schools in your area?



answers from Indianapolis on

From 3rd grade on, I was placed in gifted and talented magnet programs. My parents have never divulged my IQ, but tests I've done as an adult put me in the same category as your daughter.

I don't ever recall any children having behavioral issues in any of my classes. The school system designated a handful of schools for the GT programs, and we were pulled there for our normal schools. So, we were from all walks of life, neighborhoods, etc.

The closest I've come in my own life is a cousin who was a BRILLIANT child. He went to college at age 16, never graduated, is an accomplished pianist, but still lives at home with his mom off his deceased father's inheritance and takes odd jobs as a carpenter, diesel mechanic and masseur. He's so gifted, he can't channel his brilliance.

So, I guess, I wouldn't accept that it's normal based upon my own experiences in the programs.
However, I would speak with her pediatrician to see if there is another issue that is causing her to have the behavioral issues. Aspergers, for instance, is a highly functioning disorder on the Autism spectrum in which many identified with the condition are considered savants.

I wouldn't guess that your daughter does have autism, but there may be a medical explanation for her behavior that hasn't been recognized by the schools and can be treated.

Good luck! Congrats on having such a gifted child.



answers from Los Angeles on

My son has been tested too. He is going into 3rd grade and will be in the gifted/advanced program. He didn't act terrible in school but he also didn't act his best because he was bored. Check out the Gifted/Advanced options in your school district and see what they can do for your daughter. School districts tend to put more money into programs for kids who are academically challanged and not much into programs for gifted children. You may have to become an advocate for your school district because there are most likely quite a few children in the same situation as your daughter. Meanwhile you have to help your daughter understand that bad behavior in school is not acceptable no matter how bored she is. Maybe the teachers can give her some extra more challenging work. Maybe you have to put her in extracurricular classes to keep her mind occupied. I found Karate helped my son a lot because it taught him discipline and self control.

Hope this helps. Good luck!



answers from San Diego on

Is your daughter in some kind of a Gifted and Talented program? I am a teacher and most schools have some kind of program like this. Your daughter has to qualify by passing some tests (but it sounds like the she would do well). The teachers are specifically trained to work with children like your daughter. Children designated with being "gifted" are considered to have special needs and there is public funding for this.



answers from Los Angeles on

She's bored. I am one of those kids and so is my son....both above 165. I was in private school until 5th grade, then in public and looking back, my mom wishes she had the support and info to homeschool back then. I wish the same. I went to grad school and flew through it....but I knew what I wanted to do at age 7 and if I had been homeschooled, I could have missed all the junk and been doing what I wanted to WAY earlier. I never fit in with kids my own age and hated how petty people were. My best friend will be 60 this year.

We pulled our son out of school after kindergarten and with practically no effort, he's 7 and entering the 4th grade. We are homeschooling and he's happy as can be. My husband and I both work, but we manage our schedules to be home with the kids as much as possbile. Only parents can possibly meet the emotional AND educational needs of their own children. They are only little for a little while and we can sacrifice now to be able to have kids who can function and behave properly in this world.

We have friends that homeschool, but they send their kids to a charter school 2-3 days each week and then homeschool the other days. I have a friend who was in college at 16 and graduated from Pepperdine University with a double degree at 19. Her mom was a single mom who drove a school bus. You can make anything work, but you might need to think outside of the box. Raising kids is not easy, so I wish you the best.



answers from Los Angeles on

Gifted Children are often left behind in the school system. There are programs galore for kids with learning challenges, but what about those who need something more challenging? It is a hole in our system.

In my 12 years as a Special Needs Coordinator for my school district, I can tell you that often the kids in the behavioral program were often gifted children. They couldn’t function “appropriately in the regular classroom” (according to the classroom teacher). Truly, I often found that the teacher did not know how to teach a gifted child, thus causing a problem.

Keep in mind that a high IQ does not mean high functioning (think Einstein). There are different levels of “smart”. I do not know the history of your child and their testing to get that score, but know that many “geniuses” cannot function in the “regular world” for a multitude of reasons, boredom, impatience, frustration, lack of social skills etc. It is your job as the parent to figure out what will be best for you child.

Talk to the teacher. Find out what his/her strengths are working with your child. Involve the administration. Find out what special programs are offered in your district. Depending on where you live they may have special school sites for different programs. Your child may qualify for one.

Keep doing what you are doing ASK…ASK…ASK…and ASK again until you have it figured out. You are the only advocate for your child.

This year is almost over and you have 2 months to figure it out. Look at her diet, her patterns, her interests and her triggers. Document them. Set up a schedule (schedules are SOOO important) and monitor her. You are the best one to determine what she needs.

I would be happy to chat more if you want.

B., B.A.: B.Ed.
Family Success Coach



answers from Los Angeles on

Hi K.,

you have some great responses here. I just wanted to throw out another idea that I haven't seen mentioned. Our daughter is in a dual immersion program in which she is learning Spanish. The goal is that the kids come out bilingual Sp/En at the end of the program (currently 5th grade, but maybe adding 6th). She hasn't had an IQ test, so we don't know if she is gifted or not. But it is our belief that the extra challenge of learning a different language gives her the mental stimulation she needs. It will also be a benefit to her to be fluent in another language as she grows up and goes through life. Maybe your daughter would take to something along these lines or learning an instrument (if she isn't already) or the like, something that would interest her and challenge her in a different way.

Best of luck to you!




answers from New York on

Well K. yes I have a four kids all gifted and talented 2 sets of twins act up at school and the other don't .They GATE 2 hours a day



answers from Los Angeles on

Many hugs to you and your family. It's hard when your child ( and your family) goes through these things. Our daughter would not act out at school but after and very self destructively.

Because it can be difficult to find the academic answer, I recommend finding the help for her emotionally. We found a therapist for our daughter who specializes in gifted children. She has helped so much!

Visit SENG on line to find parent groups/contacts in your area who may be able to assist you in finding help for your daughter as well as provide support to you and your husband as well.



answers from Dallas on

Is it possible that she is ADHD ? I know alot of kids with ADHD are extremely intelligent. I don't advocate using that as an excuse for all bad behavior but you might check into that just to make sure something isn't missed.

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