Intense Emotions in Children with High Learning Potential

Young girl reacting intensely

Children with high learning potential often suffer from intense emotions which cause them to overreact and behave in a way that is odd at times. Intense emotions combined with advanced understanding and perception can result in extreme anxiety in children with high learning potential. Similarly, these factors also contribute to concerns about world issues, feelings of unfairness and, sometimes, depression.

Joyful young girl


Many children with high learning potential have an emotional development that is beyond their years.  Discussed in detail in Dabrowski’s Theory of Positive Disintegration, a personality development theory, these hypersensitivities/ overexcitabilities mean that life for children with high learning potential is experienced in a manner that is deeper, more vivid and more acutely sensed. Discover more about this in our page on Hypersensitivities and in our advice sheet PA610 Hypersensitivity (Dabrowski’s Overexcitabilities)

Group of Children on the seashore jumping for joy

Social and Emotional Development

While children and young people with high learning potential often have intense emotions, they  lack experience in dealing with these feelings. This affects their emotional regulation and can look like emotional immaturity. Their intense emotions and intellectual curiosity can often separate them from their peers, making it more difficult for them to find friendships where they are accepted and where they will naturally learn emotional regulation through interacting and modelling the children around them.

Advanced moral development may also mean that children with high learning potential see themselves as equal to any other individual (child or adult) and they will often demand or respond much more positively to respectful treatment. Where this is not present they may have difficulty accepting authority from someone just because they are older than them.

Discover more about helping children with high learning potential in their emotional development through our advice sheets:

young child touching a woman's face while sitting in a window seat

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to understand and manage our own emotions and the emotions of others. Its development is distinct from the development of academic intelligence. In the blogs listed below we look at how a child experiencing some of the less helpful characteristics common in high learning potential children, such as the tendency towards perfectionism, social challenges, or worry and anxiety, can benefit from support with the five key skill areas of emotional intelligence: Self-awareness, Self-regulation, Motivation, Empathy, Social Skills.

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