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Teens Section

This page is dedicated to our exceptionally able teenagers. We know you are the same as other teenagers in most respects. But, by definition, you are also different. What we would like to do is develop it a place where you can access everything you need, relevant to both your "teenage-ness" and to your giftedness, so that the gifted youth of Ireland can form a network of support for each other. We would like this to be an interactive experience with some of you taking over to run things like a magazine. Here's a chance for you to exercise your creativity! Please email any ideas or suggestions to: info@giftedkids.ie  

What is Adolescence?

Adolescence is the final phase of development of a child into an adult and involves some major changes and transformations.

When you are a small child, your parents are in complete control (well, they like to think they are, anyway). They not only buy all your food and clothes, they also choose them. They make all the big decisions in your life like where you go to school, what time you go to bed, when you can play with your friends, what you can watch on TV etc. If you step out of line, they can discipline you. And generally, you tend to believe the same things as they do and agree with their opinions and values. For a brief time, you think they are great!

As an adult, you will have to be completely self sufficient. You will need to be able to make your own choices and decisions without relying on your parents to bail you out when you make a mistake. You will have to make your own money, be able to wash your own clothes, feed yourself, get yourself to work on time and eventually to care for a partner and children of your own. You will need to have figured out who you are and developed your own set of values and beliefs upon which you base your life.

In the transformation from child to adult, several changes take place.

  • Your body changes dramatically and more so than at any other time in your life. To make this more difficult, children don’t all hit puberty at the same age, so for a few years there will be kids in the same class at school who have nearly fully developed and others who haven’t even begun.
  • With the physical transformation, come hormonal changes which bring mood changes and sexual awareness. You experience emotions that you have not had before and an emotional intensity you have not experienced before.
  • Your brain begins to think in a different way and you are better able to think abstractly about ideas and concepts rather than just facts. You can make connections that you might not have made before. This extra complexity of understanding the world around you takes some getting used to. Eventually, you learn to plan ahead and make sound judgements based on experience.
  • You need to become separate from your parents and to figure out who you are as an individual. As you know, this can cause huge problems at home. You want to be independent and start making your own decisions. It is very difficult for a parent to suddenly let go of their little child. They don’t cramp your style because they don’t love you. Quite the opposite: they worry that you will make a mistake or get hurt. They want to protect you. This is a time when parents also need to change their parenting style and their expectations.
  • Not only do you need to renegotiate your family relationships, your relationships with your peers become far more important in your life. They are all going through similar changes and friends at this time can be unpredictable and frustrating. There is pressure to wear the right clothes, fit in with the right crowd and be the same as everyone else. And yet, at the same time, you are trying to establish yourself as an individual.
  • You are coming to a point when you have to make big choices about your life. Which subjects will you do? What will you do after secondary school?  This is a kind of pressure you will not have had before.
  • Because of your greater independence, you will find yourself in situations where you have to make important choices. Will you try alcohol or drugs or sex? Will you go along with the crowd or do you dare to be different?

These changes don’t happen overnight. Some of them happen slowly and take over ten years to complete. During this time, it is common for teenagers to feel stressed and anxious, to have difficulty with their peers and with their families, to feel confused, insecure and as if no one really understands.

Now, if that doesn’t seem enough, let’s throw in “gifted”. What exactly does that mean anyway? There are many definitions. One is a person who has exceptional ability in one or more areas such as mathematical, verbal, spatial awareness, musical or artistic ability. (Exceptional generally means in the top 5% of the population.) Another is having an IQ of 130 or more, i.e. the top 2% of scorers on an intelligence test. Whatever definition you choose, there are approximately 23,000 exceptionally able or gifted pupils within the Irish educational system. In practical terms, it means you are likely to:
  • Process information and grasp concepts faster than others.
  • See the whole picture while your classmates are still learning the basics.
  • Get annoyed when others are imprecise or incorrect.
  • Get into a lot of arguments.
  • See many possible interpretations of a question and have difficulty picking only one right answer.
  • Picture images and models and manipulate them in your mind with ease.
  • Have outstanding ability in art, music, drama or sport.
  • Love learning new things.
  • Enjoy spending time alone.
  • Have a bigger vocabulary than your peers.
  • Have a great memory.
  • Have a vivid and active imagination.
  • Spend a lot of time daydreaming.
  • Love playing with words and doing puzzles.
  • Have a quirky sense of humour that your friends don’t always get.
  • See connections where others don’t.
  • Have strong leadership qualities.
  • Have a strong sense of right and wrong.
  • Have a tendency to be a perfectionist.
  • Get along more easily with adults than with people your own age.
  • Be very sensitive and more emotionally intense than others.
  • Be very aware of social and moral issues.
  • Get upset at injustices.
  • Be very energetic and always on the go.

You won’t recognise all of these qualities in yourself, but if you are gifted, I bet you recognise quite a few. As a child you may already have felt different and slightly out of sync with your peers. Now in adolescence, when being the same and fitting in seems so important, being different is more difficult. All teenagers will have struggles and difficulties as they progress through adolescence. As a gifted teen you may find these struggles harder.
It is important that you understand yourself and your giftedness so that you can be true to who you are and  emerge from your adolescence as a complete and happy adult who is well on their way to fulfilling their potential. As the poet, E.E. Cummings said:

"To be nobody-but-myself in a world that is doing its best, night and day, to make me everybody else, means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting"

Giftedkids hopes to provide you with information and support to help you on your way.

Catherine Riordan

Personal Stories

“I don't like labels full stop. Why would I want to be different? Sometimes it's best just to keep your head down and get on with things in your own way. Maybe teachers have expectations because of my ability but I certainly don't."

 

 

 

Disclaimer: This is not an expert site, it is run on a voluntary basis and as such is based on opinion and experience but we hope that it acts as a signpost for educational resources and other support services for Irish families with exceptionally able children. By using this website you accept that any dependence by you on such information, opinion or advice is at your own risk.

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