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Gifted Kid Burnout Syndrome: Tips for Productive Encouragement

Gifted Kid Burnout Syndrome is a term that was coined on social media in the last few years. It quickly rose in popularity in early 2021 on TikTok, sparking conversations all over the world about its legitimacy, the causes, and what it all really means. So, what exactly is "Gifted Kid Burnout"? Why should we take the time to handle the concept with kindness, compassion, and understanding?

Cherokee County Educational Foundation's mission rests on our desire to provide accessible and exciting learning opportunities for students of all ages, levels, and demographics. With this in mind, recognizing Gifted Kid Burnout Syndrome helps teachers and parents learn how to encourage their students to the best of their individual ability. Our shared passion for embracing CCSD students' bright minds has a profound impact on our community today, and far into the future!  

What is a Gifted Student?  

In Georgia, it is a Department of Education program that prioritizes specialized learning opportunities for students who fall within predetermined "Gifted Student" requirements. The gifted education student is defined as "one who demonstrates a high degree of intellectual and/or creative ability, exhibits an exceptionally high degree of motivation, and/or excels in specific academic fields." Each gifted student has to meet local and state requirements in order to be considered as such. More about gifted education students can be found on the CCSD website, here.  

Defining Gifted Kid Burnout Syndrome:  

It might be something many adults can relate to: the feeling of working incredibly hard toward a tangible or idealized goal, only to fizzle out due to stress or pressure from yourself and/or others. Essentially, Gifted Kid Burnout Syndrome is the result of added pressure that gifted students feel from parents, teachers, or even their peers. Once a student is labeled as "Gifted" there is oftentimes an unspoken, or spoken, expectation for success beyond others at their grade-level. While being gifted is a wonderful thing that should be celebrated and nurtured by our school system, it's incredibly important to be aware of what to avoid when guiding our gifted students.

Sometimes this added pressure to succeed can place unrealistic expectations on the student. A student may lose interest in things they do not immediately excel in, have a higher risk of anxiety, or have fears of not living up to their fullest potential.

How to Support a Gifted Student:  

The first thing to address when looking to support your student is understanding the signs of burnout. Not every gifted child will experience Gifted Kid Burnout Syndrome, so it's important to learn the signs. These signs could include cynicism toward work, teachers, school, etc., disengaging from favorite topics or subjects, change in sleeping/eating habits, feeling overwhelmed by small tasks, or sudden loss of motivation. If you start to spot these signs, it may be time to ramp up your support. Or, better yet, use these tips for encouragement right from the start of their gifted student journey.  

1. Give students flexibility in their schedule.

Try not to overschedule or overwork your student. Extracurriculars, sports, and clubs are great! But, just like anybody else, too much on a plate is a fast way to fizzle out interest. 

2. Talk with your student.

Normalize feelings of anxiety, perfectionism, and stress by talking to your student about what these emotions mean. When your student is able to understand and verbalize their emotions, it will be much easier for them to come and talk to you when they are feeling them. 

3. Add meaning to their work.

Connecting schoolwork to a student's values may give them a sense of meaning and purpose, which can help avoid feelings of burnout.

4. Help them find their footing.

A gifted student usually has access to advanced study materials and specialized lesson plans that help keep them engaged. The extra challenge keeps gifted students interested in their work and school! Of course, pushing your student to work hard is a valuable skill, but it requires finding balance. Putting too much pressure on your gifted student is a quick way to bring up feelings of inferiority and stress. 

The most important part of finding productive ways to encourage your gifted student is balance. You know your student better than anybody else, so if you start seeing signs of burnout, talk to them! Keep teachers and school staff informed- gifted programs were created for success, encouragement, and opportunity. Without communicating your student's needs, their achievements can be even harder to uplift.

Are you interested in learning how Cherokee County Educational Foundation supports students, staff, and teachers of CCSD? Check out more about CCEF's mission!  

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