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Meeting the Emotional Needs of an Exceptional Child

Tips to Help Twice Exceptional Students Better Manage Academic Stressors

Twice exceptional children, or 2e children for short, are highly gifted children with special needs. These children face a key dilemma: meeting the high standards and expectations set by themselves and others while attempting to overcome barriers to learning. Consequently, they often need support to deal with the emotional issues that may impair their academic performance.

Emotions and Gifted Children

Twice exceptional students are often expected to perform well in all areas, even though their strengths may only lie in one or two areas. These high expectations may cause them to work harder than their peers, and they may never feel satisfied with the fruits of their labors. They may adopt unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with their frustration, and these can lead to lowered self-esteem and increased unwillingness to put effort into tasks that may expose their weaknesses. The reactions of others to these coping mechanisms may also add to their emotional upset.

Helpful Strategies for 2e Students

Teachers can support the emotional needs of 2e students by identifying, documenting and addressing students' strengths and weaknesses, so that students can explore their gifts and develop compensatory skills for their weaknesses. Teachers must focus on students’ strengths first – strategies to manage weaknesses should be secondary to achieving the successes these students need to boost their self-confidence.

An important contribution teachers can make is building choice into students’ programs so that students can make learning more meaningful. Teachers must address students’ weaknesses not through constant drilling and repetition of skills, but through alternative methods of presentation. They should recognize that inconsistent academic performance is natural in 2e students, and avoid referring to earlier work that may have been unsuccessful, since this can cause frustration.

Even with a program that accounts for their strengths and weaknesses, 2e students will still experience negative emotions that require support systems to provide them with the chance to talk about their feelings and learn healthy coping mechanisms. Support may take the form of informal discussions with peers, caregivers and teachers or, for deeper issues, more formal approaches such as counseling. When 2e students find ways to overcome their weaknesses and manage their emotions, they can achieve the sense of competency and control they need to flourish in the classroom.

If your gifted child also struggles with learning or has been diagnosed with a Learning Disorder, contact us online or find a center near you to learn more about how the Brain Balance Program can help.

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