Anxiety is the body’s way of preparing for some form of danger. While most people will experience anxiety in certain situations, like preparing for an exam or taking part in a competitive game, for some children anxiety can become so intense that it cripples them.
Children with high learning potential are especially prone to feelings of anxiety, as their understanding of the world and current issues can be a lot deeper than for those of their peers. They feel things intensely, vividly, are often aware of how different they are from their school friends, how they don’t fit in, that they are bored all the time or struggle to concentrate, they have stomach aches or headaches and worry that any of this means that there is something seriously wrong with them.
Children with high learning potential are also prone to being too hard on themselves. Their drive to find out, to understand, to achieve and the standards they set themselves can be so high that they may find themselves paralysed by the anxiety that this can create.
Sometimes the raised expectations of children with high learning potential can also be so high that, in trying to please adults with those expectations, children become very afraid of failure. They also may achieve too easily because school work never truly challenges them, so they become afraid of failing and won’t challenge themselves beyond their comfort zone. As for competitiveness, they are so used to being top at subjects without too much effort, that if someone else beats them their self-esteem can crash.
Facing your anxieties, discovering how to relax and learning how to fail and recover from failure are important parts of discovering about yourself. However, if a child’s anxiety levels become so high that it interferes with everyday life, they may need counselling/therapy to help them cope.
- Anxiety UK – A UK based charity supporting children and adults with anxiety disorders. https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/
- Have I Got a Problem – Videos and Resources on mental health and addiction issues. https://www.haveigotaproblem.com/
- Youth Wellbeing Directory – Helps locate help for young people up to the age of 25 in the UK. https://www.annafreud.org/on-my-mind/youth-wellbeing/
- Young Minds – a UK based charity supporting children and young adults with mental health issues. https://youngminds.org.uk/find-help/
Helpful articles on anxiety, and anxiety in children with high learning potential
- Advanced Psychology – Understanding the Link between Empathy and Anxiety in Gifted Children (2018) http://www.psy-ed.com/wpblog/empathy-and-anxiety-in-gifted-children/
- Anxiety Canada – Talking to Your Child About Anxiety https://www.anxietycanada.com/parenting/talking-your-child-about-anxiety (has a handy guide to where a child may feel anxiety physically in their body).
- Byrdseed – High Anxiety https://www.byrdseed.com/high-anxiety/
- Davidson Institute – Tips for Parents: Anxiety, Sensitivities and Social Struggles among the Profoundly Gifted https://www.davidsongifted.org/Search-Database/entry/A10750
- Hoagies Gifted Education Page – Blog Hop: Anxiety (2019) (Links to several articles about anxiety and giftedness) https://www.hoagiesgifted.org/blog_hop_anxiety.htm
- National Association for Gifted Children (USA) – Management of anxiety begins at home (2016) https://www.nagc.org/blog/management-anxiety-begins-home
- NHS – Anxiety Disorders in Children https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/anxiety-disorders-in-children/
- Not So Formulaic – Why Gifted Children are Anxious, Plus 4 Ways to Help Them Cope (2017) https://www.notsoformulaic.com/gifted-children-anxious-cope/
- Your Rainforest Mind – A Gifted Kid’s Conundrum – Part Two – Anxiety and Perfectionism (2018) https://rainforestmind.wordpress.com/2018/08/29/a-gifted-kids-anxiety-and-perfectionism/
- Anger or irritability
- Crying more than expected for their age
- Difficulty concentrating
- Frequent meltdowns
- Greater inflexibility
- Need to please
- Not eating properly
- Not talking
- Separation problems
- Sleep issues
- Stomach aches
- Talking non-stop
- Worrying constantly
The following Potential Plus UK advice sheets may be of help with strategies and links. Members should log into the website to download them for free. Available to non-members at £3.60 each.