In addition to learning how to navigate a variety of new experiences and dealing with the social pressures of the teen years, very bright children who participate in advanced-level classes or programs can have trouble navigating this rigorous academic world. For those who have not received special services or supports to address their challenges, the increasing academic demands of middle school can become mentally and emotionally overwhelming.
Being a twice-exceptional teen is not easy. There is no manual for this, but coaching can provide some guidance for 2e teens on how to best approach various social and academic experiences with success.
While not every twice-exceptional adolescent will exhibit these behaviors, the most common areas of difficulty for twice-exceptional children of middle school age are:

Emotional Regulation Challenges

As they enter the teen years, gifted children who have not developed strong emotional awareness may exhibit difficulty understanding, expressing, and managing feelings and emotions

May have extreme difficulty with transitions or non-preferred activities

Can get easily bored with material below their level or easily frustrated with material above their level and display behavior challenges as a result

Can have a strong sense of fairness and may struggle understanding someone else’s perspective and become argumentative

May exhibit rigid thinking, become easily frustrated with their own abilities, and show signs of perfectionistic tendencies

Can struggle with emotional dysregulation and have significant difficulty calming down

May be preoccupied and overwhelmed by complex global issues and existential concerns. It is believed that the higher the intelligence, the higher the existential concerns

Can be temperamental and exhibit rebelliousness and oppositional tendencies

Social Difficulties

Difficulties interacting with peers and adults. Can come across as “know-it-alls” and have difficulty expressing strong feelings and opinions appropriately

Can become overly engrossed in a particular topic and not be aware that other people may share those interests

Because they crave intellectual stimulation, they may find same-age peers boring or uninteresting

May feel like they do not connect with same-age peers or that others do not “get them”

May be seen as “just too much” by same-age peers and others who are unfamiliar with giftedness. As a result, they may have great difficulty creating strong bonds and developing and maintaining friendships

May have difficulty finding time to schedule or plan social activities and tend to be forgetful of important details and information about social events such as dates and times

May be easily distracted by social media and technology, neglecting academic obligation or struggling with face-to-face interactions

Internalizing Behaviors

Because they may feel under pressure to achieve and perform at high levels, the may be reluctant to ask for help and develop insecurities around their abilities

Tend to struggle with low-academic self-concept, low self-esteem, or low self-confidence

May exhibit fearfulness, distress, and somatic complaints as a result of repeated academic failures

May become socially withdrawn as a result of their difficulty interacting with same-age peers

May become easily overwhelmed with school workload and have difficulty managing stress or test anxiety

Because of the combination of their exceptionalities and the complexity of their needs, some twice-exceptional children may exhibit debilitating anxiety and depression

Executive Function Deficits

Can display many off-task behaviors that get them in trouble

Difficulty planning or tackling big and large-scale projects and estimating the amount of time and effort a project or activity will require

May struggle switching gears, shifting between activities, and starting tasks or using a different method or approach from the one they are comfortable using

Difficulty with multi-step directions or instructions and organizing, adjusting, or shifting the steps needed to carry out a task

Can blurt out answers and have difficulty waiting for their turn and controlling impulses

May have difficulty memorizing words, facts, formulas, or foreign languages

Can make careless errors and mistakes and their work can be illegible

May struggle finishing a task despite having the knowledge or skills to do so

Tend to lose homework and study materials and mix up assignments or directions

Unique Sensory or Processing Needs

May become easily overwhelmed or overstimulated with sensory input and information such as bright lights, loud noises, or strong smells

May exhibit the need for extra sensory input and movement

May exhibit motor coordination problems, which can affect their writing abilities and further impact their academic progress

As a result of years of compensating for their academic weaknesses, some twice exceptional teenagers may develop unique processing needs and have difficulty adjusting to new academic experiences and demands


Coaching during the teenage and middle school years focuses on building strong executive function skills and promoting self-awareness and social-emotional intelligence. I collaborate with 2e adolescents to help them:

Develop a set of study skills and systems to manage academic workload and long-term projects

Learn, practice, and hone skills to manage assignments and study effectively, such as organizing school papers and materials, writing and breaking down assignments, taking notes, keeping track of deadlines, and prioritizing tasks and activities

Identify and reframe behaviors and attitudes that are negatively affecting learning or social-emotional progress

Establish and maintain strong organizational and time management skills and use technology tools and mindfulness-based strategies to support these skills

Understand their learning and processing styles and strengths and use methods that fit their preferences

Learn to advocate for themselves and communicate with teachers and adults about how to work together to address unique needs

Engage in a self-reflective process to explore their strengths, interests, and talents and see how they can apply this to learning and academic projects

Develop communication and interpersonal skills to help them form strong social relationships

Not sure if coaching is right for your family? Let’s find out together!