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Procrastination and the Gifted Child

Procrastination copy

Procrastination is a widespread concern in the gifted community which affects young children, adolescents, and adults. It can affect school work, career development, and family life. Although procrastination does occur in the general populace, gifted individuals often experience it to a greater degree as a manifestation of their giftedness and in part because of higher expectations.

During our chat, participants expressed many reasons for procrastinating: they worked better under pressure, preferred to delay tasks that did not interest them, task initiation was stressful, multipotentiality made decision-making difficult, and everything had to be just right. However, author Christine Fonseca pointed out that there is also a positive aspect, “Procrastination can create an adrenal rush that makes ideas flow. There is a wonderful thing about being in the flow; what looks like procrastination is simply finding that.”

Janine Mac, a teacher in Canada, explained that “My gifted and talented students don’t need as much time as others. Starting and finishing early means more work [for them].” 

With regard to gifted children, chronic distractibility develops because too often they don’t need to pay attention in class. They are required to do things they already know how to do and have little interest in completing repetitive tasks. Gifted children with executive functioning issues may lack the skills to prioritize and complete assignments despite motivation. Impostor Syndrome may cause gifted students to delay completion of projects due to anxiety from feelings of inadequacy. Avoidance behavior in gifted children can signal deeper issues that should be recognized and addressed before a small problem becomes a major issue.

Jeremy Bond, writer and parent, stated “They’re not gifted in everything, so they procrastinate with the difficult things because they prefer the comfort of doing well.”

The consequences of procrastination can have pronounced effects on a gifted child. Inattention/distractibility leading to procrastination does not stop at the end of the school day & leads to conflict at home. Gifted children who have ADD can compensate in elementary school, but struggle when they reach the secondary level. An inability to get things finished can lead to mental health concerns such as anxiety and depression. Ultimately, procrastination can become a threat to career development & achievement.

Jeffrey Farley, a middle school teacher expressed this concern, “Biggest consequence of procrastinating I have seen is when perfectionism takes hold and time is too short to reach the vision.”

What can parents and teachers do to help their child or student with procrastination? Don’t assume a child is lazy because they procrastinate. They may be overwhelmed, overconfident, unchallenged. (Byrd) Try to stay positive when your child procrastinates on school assignments and do not lose your temper. Changes to the environment such as limiting distractions can aid in promoting task completion. Forget the “let’s get super organized” trap that requires a child to have to focus more on organizing rather than completing tasks. Be open to asking for help from other parents or appropriate school personnel – you’ll find you’re not alone. A full transcript can be found on our Storify page.


Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Fridays at 7/6 C & 4 PT in the U.S., midnight in the UK and Saturdays 1 PM NZ/11 AM AEDT 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 Pageprovides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community.

Head Shot 2014-07-14About 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:


Ten Reasons Why Your Gifted Child Procrastinates from Gifted Challenges

A Side Effect of Giftedness: Procrastination

The Gifted Kids Survival Guide: A Teen Handbook (Amazon)

Perfectionism: What’s Bad About Being Too Good? (Amazon)

The Highly Distracted Gifted Child: You Can Help

A Guide to Time Management

Does Your Gifted Child Have ADD (ADHD)?

Handbook of Giftedness in Children (Google Books) Pfeiffer

The Real Causes of Procrastination via ByrdseedGifted

Not Now, Maybe Later: Helping Children Overcome Procrastination from Great Potential Press

Perfectionism, Procrastination & Perspicacity from PaulaProber

Grandparents’ Guide to Gifted Children (Google Books) from Great Potential Press

The Everything Parent’s Guide to Raising a Gifted Child (Google Books)

Taming the Procrastination Beast from Paula Prober

Highly Gifted Children with Attention Deficit Disorder by Lovecky (1991) from Davidson Gifted

The Procrastinator’s Guide to the Galaxy and Other Important Spots in the Universe

Giftedness and Procrastination Livebinder from Leslie Graves

How to Overcome Perfectionism & Procrastination

Procrastination—A Cry for Help

“Do Gifted Learners Think Differently?”

To repeat what others have said, requires education; to challenge it, requires brains.

– Mary Pettibone Poole (via Jerry Blumengarten @cybraryman1)

This week #gtchat was inspiring as well as engaging. We had an extraordinary mix of participants from 20 states and 8 countries. It was a topic that evoked strong emotions on the part of those who attended the chat. Beyond discussing whether gifted learners think differently, we also responded to Seth Godin’s recent post (link below) on his contention that ‘gifted’ is something you can become ~ a belief strongly contested by those in attendance.

The original article upon which this topic was based was “Brains on Fire: The Multinodality of Gifted Thinkers” by Drs. Brock and Fernette Eide (link below) in 2004. In the article, the Eides discuss insights being revealed about gifted thinkers from functional brain magnetic resonance imaging. fMRIs show “bright red blazes of high metabolic activity [bursting] out all over the scan.” The implications of these scans are that young gifted thinkers who “are rarely one-mode thinkers” often “go awry, and why organization should be an essential aspect of gifted education.”  The article also discusses the benefits ~ “more vivid images, prodigious memory, greater fund of knowledge, more frequent and varied associations, and greater analytic ability” ~ as well as the drawbacks ~ “sensory, emotional and memory overload, sensory hypersensitivities, personal disorganization, sensory distractibility, delayed processing due to ‘analysis paralysis’ (or getting ‘lost in thought’ due to an excess of options), and mental fatigue.”

It should be noted that this chat session had the most favorited tweets and retweets in recent history! A transcript of this chat can be found here. We invite you to ‘like’ our Facebook page here to find all the latest news and links about #gtchat.


Exceptionally Gifted Children: Different Minds

How Do You Know If Your Child Is Gifted?

Learning Characteristics of Gifted Students: Implications for Instruction & Guidance

Brains on Fire: The Multinodality of Gifted Thinkers

Mosaics of Minds: Why Do Gifted People Seem So Weird?

11 Tips for Teachers of the Gifted and Talented

Dealing with Problems of Some Gifted Children 

Psycho-Social Needs: Understanding the Emotional, Intellectual & Social Uniqueness of Growing Up Gifted 

Keynote Address at the “Eleventh World Conference on Gifted and Talented Children”

What Is This Gifted Thing Anyway? From @DavidsonGifted

What Seth Godin Doesn’t Get About “Gifted” from@redwhiteandgrew

Actually, Mr. Godin, We ARE Born This Way from @laughingatchaos

What Seth Godin Doesn’t Understand about Gifted People from @Susannewith5

Actually, It Goes Both Ways from @Lisa_Rivero

Gifted Is About the Starting Point from @MamaChicks

If Only You were Right, Seth, But … from @loveyboyos

What Seth Godin Doesn’t Understand about Gifted People from @jofrei

What Seth Godin Doesn’t Understand about Gifted People 2 from @jofrei

Characteristics and Problems of the Gifted

Gifted Children: Are Their Gifts Being Identified, Encouraged, or Ignored?

Gifted children: Emotionally immature or emotionally intense? From @DavidsonGifted

What is giftedness?

Think Different commercial from Apple

How being gifted means being different

Cybraryman’s How To page ~ “How to peel a banana”

High Achiever, Gifted Learner, Creative Thinker

Cybraryman’s Multiple Intelligences page

Cybraryman’s Differentiated Instruction page

Experience and Processing The Funnel and Cylinder Analogy of Giftedness

Intensive Reasoning Training Alters Patterns of Brain Connectivity at Rest (Abstract)

On Giftedness and Feeling Socially Mystified from @LesLinks

Gifted Education: It’s Not What People Think


Smarte Barn from @jtbakler

G&T Education from @LesLinks

On Giftedness and Fittedness from @LesLinks

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