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What sculpture is to a block of marble, education is to the soul.

- Joseph Addison (1672-1719)


There are a range of social and emotional issues that may arise for gifted children. Click on the links below to read more.

Forced choice dilemma

The forced choice dilemma refers to an intrinsic dilemma educators and other professionals can inadvertently place upon gifted individuals (i.e., the belief held by some intellectually gifted students that they must choose between academic achievement and peer acceptance). If a child is identified as gifted and offered a place in a withdrawal programme for example, their friends may express a feeling of abandonment and lead the child to feel they cannot be a member of both groups. The forced choice dilemma can also have cultural implications and challenges.

Related reading



Blackett, R (2012) 

An overview by Rose Blackett of the work by Dr Jill Bevan-Brown on the  research and theories of being gifted and Māori 

Gross, M (1989)

The pursuit of excellence or the search for intimacy? The forced-choice dilemma of gifted youth 

Jung, JY, McCormick, J & Gross, MUM (2012)

  The Forced Choice Dilemma: A Model Incorporating Idiocentric/Allocentric Cultural Orientation



Bullying of gifted students is often overlooked or goes unnoticed, however, it can leave these students emotionally fragile, increasing the possibility of anxiety or depression. As gifted students are often more sensitive and intense than their same aged peers, their reactions to bullying can be magnified. As with any bullying, an extreme reaction from the child being bullied can encourage the perpetrator to continue. Gifted children often know they are ‘different’ from their peers and as with any group, sometimes that ‘difference’ can be the reason a child becomes a ‘target’ of bullying. In more recent time, social media has become a more popular and often covert way of bullying others, particularly among teens.

Related reading




Schuler, PA (2002) 

Teasing and Gifted Children


Emergent sexuality and identity

“Like all other adolescents, the highly gifted must cope with raging hormones, with the issues of gender and sexual identity, religious and moral values, relational commitments and social implications. What is different about these adolescents is the ‘way’ they cope, the psychological tools (and wounds) and the mental processing they bring to the process. Here, as in all other aspects of life, there is an ‘asynchrony’ to their development…One thing seems safe to assert: while there will be differences between individuals, the complex internal reality and the often painful external pressures that affect the highly gifted in other aspects of their lives will also affect their emerging sexuality” Tolan, S. (2007)  Sex and the highly gifted adolescent

With the heightened sensitivity of many of gifted children, the personal and physical development in adolescence may give rise to an increase in questioning of the young person’s place in society. Those gifted children who identify as GLTBQ (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning) in particular may have a difficult time with transition from child to young adult.