Dealing with Your Child's Asynchronous Development

Little girl and little boy rampaging in kindergarten
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One very frustrating aspect of raising gifted children is managing their uneven development, known as asynchronous development. It is frustrating and sometimes confusing for parents because these children don't always act their chronological age. For example, a gifted five-year-old can be discussing the problem of world hunger one minute and the next minute throwing a tantrum because he has to go to bed.

The advanced intellectual development of gifted children can lead parents, and other adults, to expect more advanced behavior from these children. A five-year-old who can discuss world hunger like a ten-year-old is often expected to behave like a ten-year-old. When he acts like a five-year-old instead, a parent (or teacher) comes to see that behavior as immature behavior.

A gifted child who is years ahead of his or her age-mates is not always years ahead emotionally or socially. Advanced intellectual ability simply does not enable a child to manage emotions any better than any other child.

What Can Parents Do About Asynchronous Development?
Nothing can be done to change the way children develop, so asynchronous development can't be corrected or altered. However, life in a home with an asynchronous child can be made easier when parents understand that development. Here are some quick tips:

  • Recognize that a gifted child's emotional and social development will not always match his or her intellectual development. Before responding to your child's emotional outburst or concluding that your child is socially or emotionally immature, stop a moment to remind yourself of your child's chronological age.
  • Understand that asynchronous development creates special needs. For example, gifted children need emotional support as do all children, but they also need advanced intellectual stimulation. A gifted four-year-old who can discuss black holes still needs comforting hugs.
  • Recognize that gifted children may not get their emotional, social, and intellectual needs met by the same peers. This means that they may be able to socialize to a degree with children their own age, but may also need opportunities to interact with other gifted children, older children, or even adults. Parents should make every effort to provide these opportunities.

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