Home > School and Learning > Learning Differences > Gifted Education > Gifted Child Can't Make Friends

Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Gifted Child Can't Make Friends

Gifted and Talented Expert Advice from Rita Culross, Ph.D.

Q: My eight-year-old daughter is gifted, but she's not motivated and does not fit in with the other girls in her class. She says they are mean to her and make fun of her. I did address it with the teacher, but saw no change. How can I better prepare her for dealing with the other girls in her class? We have also tried to find extra activities outside of school to help her meet new friends as well.

A: Finding true peers is often a challenge for gifted-and-talented students, and the number-one priority of gifted students is often finding and keeping friends. Because of a lack of understanding of giftedness by others, and because gifted students often have interests and abilities beyond their classmates, it is sometimes difficult for them to find suitable peers in their school settings. In addition, issues of prejudice or bullying by other children make for uncomfortable moments at school.

One approach that you might try is teaching your child how to handle inappropriate behavior by other children. First, don't let the child be a victim. Arguing or fighting will only escalate the situation. Responding with humor or ignoring negative behavior will be more effective. Of course, avoiding the child who engages in negative interactions is also effective, if that's possible. Some situations cannot be ignored, however.

Encourage your child to report such incidences to you or another adult she trusts. That individual might be a teacher, a coach in a sport, the principal, or a counselor. If the first person is unresponsive, you or your child should report the behavior to another adult in the situation. Be persistent in asking that action be taken.

Finally, realize that no person deserves to be treated rudely, to be made fun of, or to be treated in a mean way. Such behavior isn't about you; it's about the other person. And, you don't have to take it. Ask the person to stop. If they don't, take other action.

A second approach that I would suggest is creating opportunities for your child to develop good, solid friendships. If your child is gifted, her age may matter less than her interests and preferred activities. Look for play groups in your house of worship, through youth activities like the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, through community-based sports teams, through volunteer organizations, or even among children who live in your neighborhood, especially if you also have friendships with their parents. You may want to organize some outings with the families of other gifted children your child likes. Gifted students often need contact with other gifted children beyond the normal school day or week. You can find other opportunities through classes offered for gifted students on Saturdays or during the summer by local colleges and universities. Depending on the age of the children involved, these may be residential or day programs. Such enrichment programs can also meet your child's needs for additional stimulation beyond what is provided in school.

More on: Expert Advice

Rita Culross is Associate Dean, College of Education, and Adjunct Professor of Psychology and Curriculum and Instruction at Louisiana State University. Culross has served as the consulting school psychologist for a public school elementary gifted program, and has written a book and several journal articles on gifted education.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


10 Best Creative Apps for Kids
Looking for apps that foster creativity? Check out these top-rated art and music apps for kids.

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

A New Intergalactic Reading Adventure!
Get your reluctant reader hooked on an irresistible new story, Galactic Hot Dogs! Join the Book 1 reading marathon, and get behind-the-scenes tidbits on the official Galactic Hot Dogs blog. Also, print this cool Galactic Hot Dogs reading log to keep your bookworm excited about reading!

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, and create reading lists for kids!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks