G/T Awareness Week Day 2: Unrealistic Expecations and Gifted Kid Burnout

Apr 04, 2023

As educators, we all want the best for our learners. We want them to succeed and reach their full potential. But what happens when your expectations for gifted learners become unrealistic? Unfortunately, this can lead to burnout and other negative outcomes. In today’s post, I’ll share the difference between high expectations and unrealistic expectations as well as how we can work to possibly prevent gifted kid burnout.

Unrealistic expectations are standards that are too high or unrealistic for a learner to meet. When educators have unrealistic expectations for their gifted learners,, they may expect them to excel in every subject, participate in all of the extracurricular activities,, and always be at the top of their class. This can create a lot of pressure for gifted learners and lead to burnout.  Below are three questions to ask to know if your expectations are high or unrealistic:

Is this expectation attainable without added stress and frustration?

Will this expectation being met negatively impact the overall emotional well-being of the learner?

Is the expectation adaptable or able to be adjusted or is this a “my way or the highway” type of situation?

Gifted kid burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by chronic stress. Burnout can occur when students feel overwhelmed, overworked, and unable to meet expectations. Burnout can manifest in various ways, including anxiety, depression, withdrawal, and decreased academic performance.

Gifted learners are sometimes more likely to burnout because of their high level of academic ability and potential. When teachers, parents, or even the learner, themselves, have unrealistic expectations,, it can lead to an unmanageable workload and pressure to 

To prevent burnout in gifted students, it's important for teachers to set realistic expectations and create a supportive learning environment. Here are some tips:

  1. Set realistic (even high) expectations: Avoid setting unrealistic expectations for your gifted students. Encourage them to set their goals and work at their own pace. Ensure that their workload is reasonable and that they have enough time to balance their academics, extracurricular activities, and personal life.
  2. Encourage self-care: Teach your gifted students about the importance of self-care. Encourage them to take breaks and engage in activities that help them relax and recharge.
  3. Provide support: Provide your gifted students with the necessary support they need to manage their workload and stress. Offer academic support, counseling services, and resources to help them cope with burnout.
  4. Celebrate progress: Celebrate your gifted students' progress and achievements. Encourage them to take pride in their work and recognize their efforts, regardless of the outcome.

Gifted kid burnout is no joke and can negatively impact our learners if we aren’t willing to pay attention and respond.  Take the time today to consider your own learners and the expectations that are placed upon them every day.  If you get a chance, do yourself a favor and check out #giftedkidburnout on social media.  They are telling us what they are experiencing…it’s up to us to pay attention.