Navigating Intensity and Giftedness | Insights from Christine Fonseca

Raising gifted children often feels like you’re carrying the weight of a thousand questions while navigating a winding, uphill road. If you’re a homeschooling parent of a gifted child, you’ve likely asked yourself many times, “Am I doing this right?” or “Why is my child behaving this way?” 

Let’s explore the complexities of giftedness, its emotional characteristics, and the importance of understanding these nuances to better support our unique kids.



One of the most baffling issues we encounter with our gifted kids is the misinterpretation of their behavior. Oftentimes, traits such as intense emotions, quick anger, or seeming defiance are mistakenly labeled as behavioral problems. These behaviors can be the result of their highly developed cognitive abilities not aligning with their emotional maturity or the traditional structures in which they are placed.

For instance, you might see your child acting out aggressively or throwing what appears to be temper tantrums. These outbursts can stem from their inability to express their complex thoughts and feelings adequately, leading to frustration. As parents, it’s crucial to peel back the layers and recognize that these behaviors are signals of deeper, often misunderstood needs.


The Importance of Educating Ourselves and Advocating for Our Children

One thing that many of us discover is the lack of informed professionals who truly understand giftedness. Often, educational and mental health professionals are more accustomed to working within the realms of common developmental milestones, making it challenging to address the unique needs of gifted children. This mismatch can lead to misdiagnoses or inappropriate labels that don’t accurately capture what’s going on with our kids.

It’s essential to become well-versed in the characteristics of giftedness and use this knowledge to advocate effectively. Here’s what you should look out for:

  • Intellectual Curiosity: Gifted children may constantly ask questions and delve deep into topics that interest them.
  • Emotional Intensity: They often experience emotions more profoundly than their peers.
  • Heightened Sensitivity: This can be to stimuli such as noise, texture, or even the emotions of others.
  • Advanced Language Skills: These children often have a larger vocabulary and better language comprehension.


Emotional Characteristics and the Gifted Child

Understanding the emotional landscape of gifted children is significant. Their highly developed cognitive skills are often coupled with heightened emotional intensity, which can lead to increased sensitivity or anxiety. This emotional intensity can often be misunderstood as simply “being difficult” or “overly dramatic.”

  • Anxiety and Anger: Many gifted kids experience high levels of anxiety, which can manifest as anger or frustration. For example, a child who is worried about their performance might lash out when they can’t immediately master a new concept. This is not a reflection of their personality but rather an indication of their emotional turmoil.
  • Perfectionism: Gifted children often set very high standards for themselves. When they can’t meet these expectations, it can lead to feelings of inadequacy and subsequent emotional outbursts. Teaching them about the process of learning and the value of making mistakes is important in helping manage these feelings.



Fitting In While Standing Out

Helping gifted children navigate social settings is one of the key challenges we face. These children may have different interests compared to their peers, which can make social interactions difficult. They might struggle to find friends who share their intellectual interests, leading to feelings of isolation.

  • Teaching Empathy and Social Skills: Gifted children might find it difficult to understand why peers don’t share their passions or level of interest. It’s necessary to teach them empathy and social skills that allow them to appreciate diverse perspectives. Encouraging them to develop pragmatic language skills can help them communicate more effectively with peers who might not be on the same cognitive wavelength.
  • Finding Like-minded Peers: Whether through online communities or local groups, finding like-minded peers can be a game-changer for gifted children. These connections provide an outlet for their intellectual curiosity and a sense of belonging.


Leveraging Emotional Intelligence

Many of us focus heavily on academic achievements while sometimes neglecting the importance of emotional intelligence (EQ). Developing EQ in gifted children not only helps with their social interactions but also enhances overall well-being and success.

  • Micro-Moments for Building EQ: Use daily interactions to teach and enhance emotional intelligence. Whether it’s discussing a character’s feelings in a book or addressing how they handled a situation with a sibling, these small moments contribute significantly to their emotional development.


Addressing the Lack of Focus on Giftedness Education

One critical gap we often encounter is the lack of focused education on giftedness, both in schools and within the mental health community. This systemic wounding affects not just our children but also us as parents. This is why it’s so important to speak up and demand that giftedness be included in educational and mental health curricula.


Resources and Support

Finally, resources are invaluable in this journey. Books such as Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students and The Caring Child offer guidance on addressing emotional needs and developing EQ. Online platforms like The Learner’s Lab can provide a wealth of shared experiences and strategies that work.

Raising and homeschooling gifted children is a journey filled with unique challenges and rewards. Understanding the complex interplay between their intellectual and emotional worlds can make a world of difference. By educating ourselves, advocating effectively, and fostering both IQ and EQ, we can provide our gifted children with the support they need to thrive in a world that doesn’t always understand them.

Remember, there’s nothing wrong with your child’s intensity or emotional depth; it’s simply a part of their giftedness. With the right tools and understanding, you can help them navigate their path with confidence and joy.



RLL #246: Navigating Intensity and Giftedness | Insights from Christine Fonseca


In this week’s episode of the podcast, we’re talking with Christine Fonseca, licensed educational psychologist, critically acclaimed author, and nationally recognized speaker on topics related to educational psychology, mental health, giftedness, and using storytelling to heal past wounds. 

Understanding the complex world of giftedness is crucial for providing the best support for your child. In this episode, we delve into key understandings that can make a significant difference in your homeschooling journey.


Key Takeaways:

  • Recognize Intensity: Gifted kids often exhibit intense emotions and behaviors due to their high sensitivity and cognitive abilities. Understanding this can prevent mislabeling their intensity as behavioral issues.
  • Identify Needs: Differentiating between gifted traits and actual behavioral problems is crucial. Providing the right accommodations can help them thrive without pathologizing their uniqueness.
  • Embrace Emotional Intelligence (EQ): Teaching EQ can have a profound effect on a child’s success. Use everyday moments to instill skills like empathy, adaptability, and social awareness.
  • Navigate Social Dynamics: Gifted children may find it hard to fit in due to their exceptional intellect. Helping them value and appreciate different perspectives can bridge social gaps.
  • Knowledge & Resources: Books and websites can be transformative. Utilize practical resources to better understand and support your gifted child.
  • Parental Reflection: Understanding and managing your own emotional triggers can help you respond more effectively to your child. Trust that they will be fine, and lead with patience and empathy.
  • Community and Support: Engaging with communities offers valuable insights and shared experiences. Connecting with other parents can provide additional support and strategies.

Links and Resources to Today’s Episode

Our sponsor for today’s episode is CTC Math 

Connect with Christine Fonseca
You can find Christine on: Instagram @ChristineFonsecaAuthor, Facebook @AuthorChristineFonseca, or LinkedIn @Christine Fonseca
Christine’s group: The Intense Life Tribe on Facebook
Christine’s website:

Connect with Colleen
You can find Colleen on Twitter @ColleenKessler, Facebook @RaisingLifelongLearners, Instagram @ColleenKessler
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