COVID-19 and Anxiety in Gifted Children

Kate Boonstra

Americans cannot escape the news and updates related to the novel coronavirus COVID-19. Many families wonder how to process these events with their children while maintaining adult professional and personal responsibilities. One helpful resource for parents is guidance developed by the National Association of School Nurses and the National Association of School Psychologists.

Gifted individuals do not exhibit higher rates of anxiety than the general population. Worries and anxious thoughts can increase in the absence of intellectual stimulation, however. With school closures and social distancing, parents may be looking for ways to give their gifted children a sense of purpose.

If your children are young, use the Fred Rogers approach of looking for the helpers. How are people serving their communities and using their gifts and talents for the common good? What might your child have to contribute? My 4-year-old and 2-year-old nieces made pictures with construction paper and markers to deliver to porches in their neighborhood.

With older children like my 8th and 9th grade students at school, consider their interests and areas of giftedness. Gifted students are among the problem-solvers of the future, and there are role models they can be learning from right now. A global pandemic calls upon experts in many, many disciplines.

  • If your teen is strong in quantitative reasoning, they may be fascinated by how mathematical models are used to predict disease spread.
  • Students with strengths in written communication might keep a journal about their experiences. Their thoughts can be used as a primary source for future historians, the way these survivors shared about the 1918 influenza pandemic. How could your child vary their writing according to audience and purpose?
  • Science-oriented youth could investigate what an epidemiologist does, or how tests are developed for viruses.

We can work together to keep our communities healthy as our families adapt to the ever-changing landscape of the COVID-19 pandemic. While monitoring and protecting our children’s physical health, we can point out opportunities for them to notice and learn from the work of highly capable problem-solvers throughout the world.

Kate Boonstra is a gifted specialist for Waukee Community School District in Waukee, Iowa. She is the mother of two gifted children and a former board member for the Iowa Talented and Gifted Association.

The views expressed here are not necessarily those of NAGC.