Stigma of Giftedness

gtchat 05172016 Stigma


A social stigma is a discrediting stereotype placed on individuals with attributes that deviates from norm; exactly what often happens to children identified as gifted. They figure out quite quickly that they will be treated differently by adults; sometimes with unfair expectations.


gtchat 05172016 Stigma Image 1

Gifted children may manipulate information about themselves to ensure they still have normal social relationships (Cross/Coleman 1993).  The stigma can extend to parents of gifted children cutting them off from support offered other parents because their children are ‘different’.


gtchat 05172016 Stigma Image 2

Gifted students are known to employ strategies to avoid the stigma associated with giftedness. Invisible strategies include ‘not’ saying a test is easy; ‘not’ volunteering answers; asking questions when answer is known; or not telling their age when they’ve been accelerated. More visible strategies include being the class clown, obnoxious behavior, or dressing outside current styles. Disidentifying strategies include feigned interest in small talk; acting silly; asking absurd questions (Coffey). Past studies have shown gifted students becoming highly involved in extracurricular activities to ‘fit in’. (Coleman 1985)

gtchat 05172016 Stigma Image 3

There are potentially negative outcomes of avoidance behavior related to the stigma of giftedness. When kids feel different and don’t know why, it can lead to feelings of abnormality. A gifted child may hide their giftedness to ‘fit in’ socially with age-peers and this can lead to underachievement. Parents are affected, too. They tend to shy away from sharing about their child’s accomplishments.

gtchat 05172016 Stigma Image 4

What can parents do to help their child cope with the stigma associated with giftedness? Parents can explain what giftedness is and its characteristics so their child isn’t confused about feeling different. They should provide opportunities for children to associate with intellectual peers in an appropriate environment. Parents may also need to seek counseling or therapy if they believe their child’s well-being is adversely affected. A transcript of this chat may be found at Storify.

gtchat 05172016 Stigma Image 5



gtchat-logo-new bannner

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Tuesdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Wednesdays at Noon (12.00) NZST/10.00 AEST/1.00 UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Head Shot 2014-07-14  About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered        by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at  Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at:



The Stigma of a Gifted Child

Support for Parents of Gifted &Talented Children in Western Melbourne (Thesis p. 77 – pdf)

Coping with the Stigma of Giftedness (pdf)

The Social & Emotional Lives of Gifted Kids (pdf)

Possible Stigma of the Gifted Label

Is Being Gifted a Social Handicap?

25 Years of Research on the Lived Experience of Being Gifted in School

Giftedness & Genetics: The Emergenic Epigenetic Model & Its Implications (pdf)

Talent Development in Economically Disadvantaged Populations (pdf)

The Unique Inner Lives of Gifted Children (pdf)

The Social Cognition of Gifted Adolescents in School: Managing the Stigma of Giftedness

The Bipolar Spectrum and The Artistic Temperament: The Effects of Treatment on Exceptional Artistic Talent (pdf)

Laughing at Chaos: I DON’T Brag about My Gifted Kid

Sprite’s Site: GT Chat: Labels: Good, Bad, or Simply Wrong

Academically Gifted Students’ Perceived Interpersonal Competence and Peer Relationships (pdf)

Gifted Kids Shape their Personalities as per Social Stigma 

The Talent of Being Inconvenient: On the Societal Functions of Giftedness (pdf)

A Gifted Child is Not a Perfect Child – So Why is There Still a Stigma?

Possible Stigma of the Gifted Label

Pathologizing and Stigmatizing: The Misdiagnosis of Gifted People

Special thanks to Leslie Graves, President of the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children, for her extensive list of additional links for this week’s #gtchat.

Photo courtesy of morgueFile. Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

Posted on May 24, 2016, in Emotional intensity, gifted, gifted and talented, Mental Health and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: