This week we are exploring the emotional development of gifted individuals. This is the section section of four parts.
How do we as parents, librarians, teachers, and counselors help? The most ideal situation is to assist when they are young; this support early on gives them confidence in themselves and how to handle these particular sensitivities. There are four aspects to emotionally developing gifted children, according to Judith Wynn Halsted, and they are as follows:
- Establishing an identity
- Being alone
- Getting along with others
- Using Abilities (Halsted, 1988)
Today we look into the fourth trait:
4. Using abilities
Realizing potential is another aspect that the gifted child must grow into. They develop their abilities and harness their power much like a superhero. Learning to navigate the emotional waters, filling the bucket of intellectual drive and investigation, wrangling the ever-present social bear which is peers, adults, society – this entire balancing act is a delicate one, but one they can manage if they understand all the moving parts.
“For the gifted individual, it is more to the point to recognize that he will simply be happier, more satisfied – life will be much more interesting – if he learns to understand and manage his intensity and creativity (Halsted, 1988).” Basically, one must learn to identify his own strengths and the things he or she is interested, and how they are going to let it motivate his or her own actions. If the individual has a strong sense of self, it is more than likely that they will pursue their dreams and accept themselves for who they are and what they love. The more accepting of themselves they are, they will use their abilities and attempt to harness the powers they have been “given” by being intellectually advanced.
Teachers and librarians can give these students books about giftedness to learn more about what that term means. There are gifted “survival guides” which tell them how to deal with common problems which face their breed. But giving them books to read which reflect their situation, programs to attend which peak their interest and give them opportunities to meet like-minded individuals, and talk to them about empathy, which they need for their fellow man (and the sometimes not-so-nice fellow man) will all help them focus their energy more on the things they love and not all the extraneous outside garbage which comes from being someone who doesn’t fit a mold.