What every parent needs to know about anxiety and gifted kids

By Maria Blackburn

To many of us, the world seems large and scary right now, and there are so many things to worry about: health, money, safety, and global pandemics, to name a few.

Children are not immune to experiencing anxiety, and kids with advanced academic abilities often have characteristics and tendencies that may cause them to feel especially anxious, says Karen Mickenberg, staff psychologist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY).

“High-ability students tend to be curious and seek information,” says Mickenberg, who has 29 years of research and clinical experience with high-ability students. “They can understand things at a deeper level than their same-age peers. And many of them can articulate what they are thinking and feeling, so their families may be more aware of their anxiety.”

Fortunately, parents can help by being aware of their child’s anxiety and providing reassurance and guidance, she says. “A lot of us are feeling these things right now but there are some things we can do to help ourselves and our kids feel less anxious.”

Learn more by viewing Mickenberg’s recent webinar, “High Ability and Anxiety,” in which she addresses how characteristics of high-ability children foster anxiety, how to identify symptoms of anxiety, and how to manage these symptoms.

This is the first webinar in CTY’s Wellness Initiative. The next webinar in the series will focus on using positive psychology to develop resilience and coping skills in high-ability students and will be held at 12 p.m. on June 3.

CTY’s Wellness Initiative was established with a generous gift from a CTY parent in memory of her son, who tragically died by suicide in his early twenties. To honor him, CTY leadership decided to use the gift as a first step toward increasing understanding of the emotional health of our students and their sources of mental stress.

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