The intensity and sensitivity of gifted children spreads through everything they do – their everyday interactions with others, their reactions to events, and even their attitudes toward themselves. Gifted children seem to have an extra emotional sensor, or a special awareness, that picks up the slightest emotions. The attitudes and actions of others can be a major source of stress for them. (Webb et. al, 2007)
Intensity and sensitivity are certainly assets for gifted children, but they can also be liabilities and sometimes cause emotional stress. On the positive side of sensitivity, these children often show advanced empathy and compassion.
Intensity goes with being gifted and usually includes a very active imagination.
Behaviors of gifted children are not always perceived as positive. Many of the traits of giftedness have both negative and positive aspects, depending on the situation, circumstances, or one’s point of view.
For example, the other side of high verbal ability is that the child talks or reads incessantly.
The other side of being idealistic and perfectionistic is that the child is often judgmental of others, finding hypocrisy everywhere he looks.
The other side of curiosity is that the child is forever asking questions – the the point at which adults may be annoyed and just want him to stop.
A child who questions a (teacher’s) way of doing things can simply have a curious mind and is looking for deeper answers. A child who is not willing to do things the traditional way is typically one who has divergent thinking ability and creativity. When their common traits are misunderstood, some gifted children can look extreme and negative to others.
As seen from Dabrowski’s viewpoint, these children are trying to resolve inner conflicts with what is happening in their world and what they think should be happening.
The characteristics of a gifted child cannot be removed; they are an integral part of that child. When these characteristics are criticized by others and portrayed as negative, gifted children learn to hide their giftedness, which is a great cost to the child.