Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Gifted Girl Needs Friends

Gifted and Talented Expert Advice from Mary Ruth Coleman, Ph.D.

Q: My six-year-old daughter is having difficulty making and keeping friends in her first-grade class. She is very bright academically (her reading and math skills tested at fourth-grade levels), but the problem is that she is not as sophisticated with her social skills. She loves to read and prefers to do that over just about everything. She is not a "traditional" girl who plays with Barbies or dolls. She is really into science, math, and reading. I love this about her and I encourage her all the time. She has had me set up play-dates with kids she likes, but no one has reciprocated and invited her over. I also enrolled her in extracurricular activities of her choosing -- gymnastics, an art class, and science. She is beginning to make comments to me that she has no friends and it is just breaking my heart. What should I do?

A: This is one of the most heart-wrenching problems for many gifted children. First, we must rethink what friendship means and help kids understand the difference between popularity and friendship. Your daughter likely gets this, but next we need to think about how friendships really form, usually as shared interests. Your daughter is already into science and reading. How about a book club or a young-scientist group that she could start or join? It may be that older or younger kids with similar interests could offer her this support. Summer day-camps focused on her interests may also help. Sometimes the best friend a child can have is a mentor who understands her passions and values her -- even an online mentor at a natural-science museum might help. Continue to support your daughter for who she is and to validate her feelings without panic or overreactions. True friends are few and far between, and take time. She will find them.

- Mary Ruth Coleman, Ph.D.

More on: Expert Advice

Mary Ruth Coleman is the director of Project U-STARS (Using Science Talent and Abilities to Recognize Students) at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Coleman has taught in both general and gifted educational programs in both public and private schools.

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.


Zika Virus Q&A: 4 Facts for Pregnant Women & Families
Zika virus is pretty scary. Pregnant or not, learn what steps to take to protect your family from Zika, including travel restrictions and mosquito bite prevention.

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

Ommm! 5 Meditation & Mindfulness Activities for Families
Family meditation and mindfulness can help reduce anxiety and promote health and happiness. Learn some fun and easy mindfulness activities for kids, and set them on the path to inner peace!

Ready for Kindergarten?
Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

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 Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks