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You are here : home > Intelligent Child > Super Intelligent Children > Underachieving Gifted Children

Underachieving Gifted Children

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Lack of proper encouragement may result in underachievement in gifted children. Read on to know about some of the causes of underachievement in gifted children.

Teachers and parents of gifted children are often surprised when they realise that their child is an underachiever in school. Underachievement in gifted children is something that parents must understand and try to correct as soon as possible. It is not something that is easy to reverse. It is particularly hard to reverse if left unattended for too long.

Some gifted children who are a little older may not be academically brilliant but easily achieve a lot outside of school. For example, a fourteen year-old gifted student may be an average performer in school, but may have performed brilliantly for her school sports team.

Clearly, such children cannot be categorised as gifted underachievers. They do excel at certain things and are not necessarily studies. They are self confident and have high self esteem. The crucial decision parents of such children must take is whether to try and reverse the underachievement in school or to encourage the child to use the skills she possesses to excel outside of school.

Reasons for Underachievement in Gifted Children

What are some of the known reasons for underachievement in gifted children?

Inadequate Challenge

Gifted children are intellectually far superior to their peers. In case such children are not intellectually challenged, they simply stop learning or caring about school and academics. These children need to be educated at an advanced level. However, most schools do not offer specialised gifted learning curriculum in the primary stage.

It is crucial for gifted children to interact with people who can match their intellectual ability. Parents must encourage the child and provide her with a range of experiences on the subject of her interest. This may include videos, books, games, trips, competitions, subscription to magazines and visiting museums. Interacting with specialists in the field of the child’s special interest can also be very useful.


Gifted children often feel left out when in a group. They do not have much in common with their peers and find it difficult to establish social relationships with them. Most gifted children prefer to be loners, which is the prime cause of depression in such children. Like normal children other factors too can cause depression in these children like the death of a family member or parents' divorce.

Being alone most of the time such children do not have anyone to talk to about their innermost fears and concerns. Depression can interfere with the performance of the child for which medical assistance must be sought promptly.

Praise and Motivation

One thing which motivates all children is praise. Praise is the best reward to make children excel in anything be it academics or sports. In case of super intelligent children in addition to praise, self motivation is also important. However, if the specially gifted child is not challenged intellectually the question of self motivation does not arise. Hence, it is very important to engage the child in something which suits her special ability. The simplest of things which parents or educators can do in this regard is to provide advanced study material of a higher class to the child.

Often underachieving children may not excel in studies but may possess other special abilities and talents. They may be excellent beauticians, artists or mechanics. Such children must be encouraged to pursue the field of interest about which they are passionate. Parents must understand that formal academics is only one of the fields in which children can excel. They can be super achievers in a variety of other subjects outside academics also.

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Riya.5 years ago
its difficult to spot such a child for the teacher. That is why it is essential all teachers have a strong teaching background and an insight into child psychology. My kids' teacher at Orchids decodes his drawings at school to tell me about his nature. I find that fascinating.
Ravina.5 years ago
Very true that underachieved students are really talented in various areas. I have read stories of these students who have excelled in other sectors, making a difference in this world. Thoughtful article!
Leena Dev.6 years ago
this article is very good. we must help and support underachievers. Teachers and parent's role are very important.
Shingles.6 years ago
when it cums to my child i am very fair. i let him do wat he likes...i encourage him
Kentucky Reevs.6 years ago
I fully support what has been expressed here.. It's not just academics that matters, but many more...parents should be more supportive
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