Helping Gifted Students with Anxiety

Instructor: Della McGuire

Della has been teaching secondary and adult education for over 20 years. She holds a BS in Sociology, MEd in Reading, and is ABD on the MComm in Storytelling.

In this lesson, we'll discuss ways to help gifted students manage different types of anxiety. While many of these anxiety issues can trouble all students, we'll also look at how they can uniquely affect gifted students as a result of their abilities.

Gifted Students

What constitutes a gifted student eligible to receive accommodations may vary according to individual states or school districts, but, generally speaking, a student performing in the top 10 or 15% of their peers can be considered gifted. For the purpose of this lesson, we'll address gifted student issues whether or not they are officially labeled as gifted or eligible for enrichment programs.

Because gifted students are exceptional in some way, they have a unique set of experiences and perceptions of the world. Sometimes, this gifted perspective can lead to issues with anxiety. Fortunately, a gifted student's abilities can provide opportunities for dealing with this personal challenge.

For example, all students, but especially gifted students, would benefit from a teacher's explanations of the neurological processes of anxiety. Gifted students may be able to delve deeper into the neuroscience, use this knowledge to process their experiences, and gain new perspective on managing their anxiety.

Beyond brain science, let's take a look at some of the ways gifted students might experience anxiety and actions that teachers can take to mitigate the symptoms.

Existential Depression

Gifted students have a strong sociological imagination, meaning they have the ability to see the interconnections between themselves and others as people interact together to create a larger society across the world. Gifted students can see the universe in a way that puts an interesting, and sometimes dismal, perspective on existence and the human condition. This means gifted students typically struggle with existential depression.

Many students may struggle with the dread of impending doom in times of widespread crisis, but strategies for reducing anxiety in most students may not work well for the gifted. For example, The strategy of Duck and Cover may have worked for most kids during the height of the Cold war, but gifted students would have easily seen through this as a realistic means of escaping nuclear holocaust.

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