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Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation.

– John F Kennedy

Factors influencing development

Environmental factors and innate characteristics within a gifted individual influence their social and emotional development. These factors act separately and interact together to influence and sometimes challenge gifted individuals.

There are a number of factors that can influence how gifted children think, feel and behave. These include:

  1. Level of giftedness: generally characteristics of giftedness are magnified for individuals at the highest levels of giftedness. This includes social and emotional intensities and sensitivities(Petersen 2006).
  2. Asynchronous development: Children who are out-of-sync or have uneven development and can present with extreme strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes their feelings and reactions can cause an emotional reaction or tantrum and things may intensify to the point that they frighten themselves. For example, a gifted five-year-old can be discussing the problem of world hunger one minute and the next minute throwing a tantrum because they have to go to bed. Some aspects of their development may be significantly out of step with other areas (such as twice exceptional children, or judgment and intellect being out of alignment).
  3. Overexcitabilites: the brighter the child, the greater the likelihood that the child will become superstimulated.
  4. Thinking and learning styles.
  5. Cultural and personal identity issues.

Related reading



Blackett, R & Webb, JT (2011)

The social-emotional dimension of giftedness: The SENG support model

Petersen, J (2006) 

Addressing Counseling Needs of Gifted Students (American School Counselor Association)