Due to asynchronous development, gifted children often experience the world differently than their same-aged peers. Some experience unique intensities, or overexcitabilities, that render modifications in teaching and parenting. These intensities typically take on characteristics of emotional, intellectual, imagination, psychomotor, or sensual overexcitability. In this in-depth interview study, I explored parent perceptions of intensity in their gifted adolescent children. Three mothers participated and completed the Overexcitability Inventory for Parents-Two (OIP-II) prior to each interview. The parent responses to the OIP-II served as an elicitation device to begin our conversations. Thematic analysis revealed three main themes among the participants’ perceptions: (1) challenging behaviors of intense gifted children, (2) consequences of intensity, and (3) a parent’s search for understanding. These findings inform the understanding of intensity and overexcitability from parents’ points of view and provide insight into how intense gifted children behave outside of the classroom. I conclude the article with questions to consider regarding how to better support parents of young gifted children.


Gifted Children, Parents of Gifted Children, Overexcitability, Intensity, Social and Emotional Development, OIP-II, Basic Qualitative Design, In-Depth Interviews, Semi-Structured Interviews, Thematic Analysis

Author Bio(s)

Kate H. Guthrie, Ph.D., is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Education and a Director of Educational Research at Piedmont College. She earned her doctorate in Educational Psychology, with an emphasis in Gifted and Creative Education, from the University of Georgia and has worked for the Torrance Center for Creativity and Talent Development as an Instructional Coordinator. She is an experienced high school math teacher and has worked with diverse populations of adolescents. Her research focuses on qualitative inquiry and the social and emotional needs of gifted adolescent females. Additionally, she is a certified professional therapeutic yoga teacher in her community, and she often incorporates mindfulness exercises to her qualitative inquiry with gifted adolescents. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: kguthrie@piedmont.edu.

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