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What is Gifted Kid Burnout? (And What To Do About It)

Montessori schools deeply value every child’s education and development, but some children are born with an above-average ability to develop these skills. These children can also quickly experience gifted kid burnout. But what is gifted kid burnout? And what is the meaning of being burnt out?
Student laid back with book over their face

What is Gifted Kid Burnout? (And What To Do About It)

Montessori schools deeply value every child’s education and development, but some children are born with an above-average ability to develop these skills. These children can also quickly experience gifted kid burnout. But what is gifted kid burnout? And what is the meaning of being burnt out?

A burnt-out gifted kid refers to children, with above-average ability early on in life but who then experience chronic exhaustion with potential depression, anxiety, and social burnout. This often results from a mismatch between their learning style, natural aptitudes, and educational environment. This guide will detail more about what gifted child burnout syndrome is, how to recognize the signs, and what to do about it.

What Is Gifted Kid Burnout?

A “genius kid” often has higher mental or physical abilities compared to other children early in life. However, many of these children experience burnout when they reach their teenage years due to a myriad of reasons. The meaning of burned out is feeling mentally, physically, or emotionally exhausted, so much that there is often a decrease in productivity or desire to learn.

Gifted child burnout happens more frequently than you may think due to many aptitude or scholarly tests that children undergo early in their education. These tests tell children they are “smarter” or “better” than many other children, which often leads parents and teachers to do the same. In time, however, this praise can result in giftedness depression or anxiety in gifted students.

Disengagement is a burnout synonym to take note of as well. While burnout can look different for every student, some gifted kid burnout symptoms can include:

  • Apathy about having to perform in school or sports when they used to enjoy it
  • Anxiety and perfectionism
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Procrastinating or avoiding school or sports activities
  • Physical symptoms like headaches, nausea, poor sleep, or panic attacks
  • Withdrawing from friends and family

Learn how ATI can help your child if they experience gifted kid burnout.

Is Gifted Student Burnout Different in Kids?

Gifted kid burnout, also known as academic exhaustion syndrome, may look different between a gifted burnout kid, a burnout teenager, or adults. Adults tend to experience burnout more in relation to their jobs and the stress that comes with their overall performance.

Burned-out adults often show higher levels of self-medication to deal with stress and intense fatigue. Children and teenagers, however, tend to show more signs of:

  • Apathy
  • Social stress
  • Disengaging from school or other activities
  • Disrespect of authority figures

What Are Gifted Kids?

Gifted children are “those who demonstrate outstanding levels of aptitude or competence in one or more domains.” These children may inherently score better on aptitude tests, perform better at certain activities like sports or art, or show a propensity for electronics or online learning.

Many of these children can then quickly experience gifted burnout.

Gifted kid syndrome can affect many children and often leads to overall exhaustion in a child’s academic and social life. It’s important to know the common behaviors of gifted children so that you can also help your child, as they might experience burnout in the future.

Signs of gifted kid burnout syndrome may include:

  • The ability to comprehend concepts or ideas above their grade level
  • Enthusiasm and curiosity about learning
  • Strong emotional maturity at a younger age
  • Larger vocabulary
  • Good observational skills

Montessori schools are great for children to explore this giftedness while also working to mitigate signs of burnout.

Gifted Kid Challenges

While being a gifted child may seem to have many benefits, there can be intense symptoms of other struggles as well. A burnout-gifted kid can experience many challenges related to academic performance, perfectionism, and overall emotional or mental distress. These symptoms can also create issues for how children will be able to perform or participate in society or community later in life.

Other challenges of gifted kid burnout include:

  • Perfectionism/Control: Gifted children often feel the need to make sure they are perfect at many activities since they had a natural affinity for them in the past.
  • Impatience: If gifted children don’t understand something quickly, they can become increasingly impatient with their educational system.
  • Social Anxiety or “Fitting In”: Gifted children may worry about fitting in with others who don’t focus on academics as much as they do.
  • Self-Esteem: Gifted children may have low self-esteem due to worrying about not being “good enough” in academics or other areas of their lives. They can also struggle with feeling like they always have to be the “best.”
  • Depression and Anxiety: Giftedness and anxiety often go hand-in-hand for many children.
  • Unrealistic Expectations: Aptitude tests, teachers, and parents may all place unrealistic expectations on gifted children, meaning gifted kids may also create these expectations for themselves.

How to Help Gifted Kids Overcome Challenges

For children with burnt out gifted kid syndrome, being ahead of the curve earlier in life may put them behind later on. This is why it’s important to know how to help gifted children learn how to overcome challenges or other issues they may face. Parents or guardians of gifted children can help in many ways, including:

  • Normalizing feeling stressed or anxious. Providing access to ways they can work through these feelings, such as therapy, coaching, or other tools will help with this.
  • Practicing coping skills together.
  • Allowing children to explore all of their interests, not just academic ones.
  • Working with children to know how to accept and overcome potential failure.

Montessori schooling, like what we offer at ATI, can help students work through many of these challenges.

Do Gifted Kids Need Different Education?

Since gifted children can experience many hardships related to later education and eventual burnout, some may require a different educational approach. A burnt out, gifted kid means that while they have a natural aptitude for schooling, they may also need more support in areas where other children might already excel. This can include social skills and mental or emotional processing or fortitude.

Some factors to consider if you think your child may benefit from a different educational system, like Montessori schooling, include:

  • Your child isn’t being challenged enough
  • Your child is becoming disengaged towards things that used to interest them
  • Your child isn’t having their emotional or social needs met
  • Your child is struggling with the strict regime of traditional schooling
  • Your child isn’t being allowed to explore their ideas or interests fully
  • Your child is starting to become cynical or angry about education or school

What Types of Programs Are Best for Gifted Kids?

There are a few programs that may work best for your gifted child. Montessori schooling allows children to explore what interests them while focusing on the student’s needs holistically. Another option is to homeschool your child.

Montessori Schooling

Montessori programs allow students to thrive in both academics and other social areas. These programs can benefit gifted children who need more independence to explore their passions and interests.

Homeschooling

This can be a great alternative to a traditional school, as the parent or guardian can create the curriculum that best suits their child. However, it’s important to do ample research on this beforehand. Homeschooling necessitates the parent or tutor engage the student fully while allowing them freedom.

Montessori-Inspired Middle and High School Experiences for Gifted Kids

Gifted kid burnout is very real for many students. Fortunately, there are several options that ensure children can get the support they need. Montessori schools like ATI allow students to flourish and succeed in their studies and other areas of their lives. We want to make sure children can explore all their interests and stay engaged with what they’re learning.


Contact us today to learn more about Montessori-inspired education available at the Academy of Thought and Industry. We’ll work to ensure your child stays engaged, active, and excited about their school experience.