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Question
Posted by: Anon | 2012/03/04

Very low self esteem child

Hi
I have a profoundly gifted child as assessed by an educational psychologist. He receives specialized education and is doing really well in everything that he does, both sports and culturally, and he does enjoy himself. I do not believe that I put any pressure on him, and also respect the fact that before anything else he is just a little boy.
However in saying that, no matter how well he does, he just never seems satisfied with his accomplishments. He has almost no confidence in anything. For example, he goes to swimming lessons which he enjoys, and can swim 50m perfectly well, but when he needs to swim at school, he refuses to - to the extent of tears and telling me that he is not good enough to swim in the pool. He plays chess at school, and is ranked no 1 at the school, but will not compete in inter school league in case he looses. When I ask him why, he just says he does not want to embarrass himself. I know this sounds petty, but it is in everything he does, he wont take a chance on anything (I dont ever change his meals), he refuses to try anything new, I cant change our daily routine, because it causes him to flip out. He is 8 years old, with the mind of a 15 years old and the EQ of a 3 year old - it has started limiting our lives, and is a cause for huge frustration levels. If I leave him in his own little world and routine, he is exceptionally well behaved, well mannered and polite, but if I make any form of change, he becomes impossible. I am worried that if I just settle for his whims - because it is easier, he risks becoming a social misfit, but to force him into situations that seem risky, or force him to become uncomfortable, I am worried about the damage that it could cause.
The school generally excepts his oddities because they are only really concerned with his education, and there are no issues there, but there are whole aspects of life that he is going to miss out on just because he does not have the confidence or maturity (not sure which one), to just do things for fun...is there anything I can do to encourage him to enjoy things more than worrying about how well he will or wont do.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Very gifted children and adults tend to put pressure on themselves, even if their saintly parents strive to avoid doing so. But it sounds as though, for whatever reason, he is sadly lacking in self-confidence and self-esteem, and a child psychologist could really help him develope these useful features and skills.
Also, maybe a proper clinical psychologist could do a more useful assessment, rather than merely estimating his IQ - there could be elements of Autism or Asperger's Syndrome at work here, and this would need different handlin.

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2
Our users say:
Posted by: cybershrink | 2012/03/05

Very gifted children and adults tend to put pressure on themselves, even if their saintly parents strive to avoid doing so. But it sounds as though, for whatever reason, he is sadly lacking in self-confidence and self-esteem, and a child psychologist could really help him develope these useful features and skills.
Also, maybe a proper clinical psychologist could do a more useful assessment, rather than merely estimating his IQ - there could be elements of Autism or Asperger's Syndrome at work here, and this would need different handlin.

Reply to cybershrink
Posted by: that was me as a child and now... | 2012/03/04

This is exactly my experience as a child, except that in those days it was so unacceptable to misbehave that instead of becoming impossible I withdrew and used my intelligence to find acceptable excuses for not doing things. The things I couldn''t get out of, involving competing and being in the limelight, I did but I was tortured inside, I hated it. And I was a social misfit in that I was very withdrawn, very much a follower to keep out of trouble. So, after very many years I finally with the aid of a lot of psychotherapy found the problem. I was afraid to fail because my entire self-image was built on the praise of others for my intelligence and good behaviour, but " just me, myself"  had no value at all. Because of parents and teachers, even friends, always mentioning and praising my intellectual and other accomplishments and my goody-goody behaviour. my childish mind decided that I was worthless without these and if I made any mistakes I would be rejected and unloved. So you and teachers have to try very hard to stop saying how clever he is,
to stop caring about his brilliance and to enjoy the simple and silly things in life with him, starting in private to build up his trust in you, then going on to " normal"  situations. Make time for him to just play with the stupid kid down the road, even if you have to cut down on the extra-murals.

Reply to that was me as a child and now...

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