Emotional, behavioral and social difficulties among high-IQ children during the preschool period: Results of the EDEN mother-child cohort.


Rationale: High intelligence may be associated with emotional, behavioral and social difficulties. However, this hypothesis is supported by little compelling, population-based evidence, and no study has been conducted during the preschool period with a population-based sample. Method: Children (N = 1100) from the EDEN mother-child cohort were assessed at the age of 5-6 years. Behavioral, emotional and social problems (emotional symptoms, conduct problems, symptoms of hyperactivity/inattention, peer relationship problems and prosocial behavior) were measured using the parent-rated Strengths & Difficulties Questionnaires (SDQ). IQ scores were based on the WPPSI-III at 5-6 years. Relevant covariates for children’s cognitive development were also collected. Results: We found no significant differences in SDQ scores between gifted children (N = 23; Full Scale IQ > 130) and children with Full Scale IQ in the normal range (N = 1058 > 70 and <130), except a marginally significant association between high-IQ and emotional difficulties at 5-6 years. Further sensitivity analyses did not support the association between high-IQ and emotional difficulties. Discussion: During the preschool period, gifted children do not seem to manifest more behavioral, emotional and social problems than children with normal IQ.