Tips for Parents: Teasing, Bullying, and the Role of Friendships
Fred Frankel, Ph.D., ABPP, Director of the UCLA Children's Friendship Program, and author of Good friends are hard to find: Help your child find, make and keep friends and Children's Friendship Training, led an informational seminar for parents of profoundly intelligent children on the topic of, "Teasing, bullying and friendships" from which the following information was compiled.
Friendship problems of gifted children
I haven't found friendship problems to be disproportionately represented among gifted children. Out of over 1,000 children we've seen at the UCA Children's friendship program, I could identify only 20 or so as gifted (either by parent report or special school attendance). This is admittedly a biased sample. Research studies generally show that gifted students report less social problems than regular students. One parent suggested differences within the gifted population according to IQ level and pointed out that many of the studies done on gifted children have made little or no distinction between the gifted populations.
Parents should consider social adjustment when considering acceleration. A parent posted "I think one thing we often fail to realize is that just as children develop their academic abilities at different ages they mature socially at different ages. Often, I think we expect really bright kids to act their intellectual age and forget that deep inside they really are kids. This becomes even more of an issue when we grade accelerate." Children who had problems with friendships prior to being accelerated may be at increased risk for them after acceleration. One parent post stated, "We are struggling right now because we know we will need probably 2-3 more accelerations and our daughter is concerned that the older classmates won't want to "play" with her because she's younger." Older girls may have the same intellectual interests, but will usually have different social interests. These latter interests are more important in establishing quality friendships. From a social point of view there is absolutely nothing wrong with having same age friends (I had many friends whom I enjoyed and valued who were one year younger than me in high school). You can get intellectual experiences without friendship but you can only get genuine caring and loyalty through quality friendships. Again I cite the long-term (10 year follow-up study) from New Zealand than showed that having one or two quality friendships as a child made for a better-adjusted young adult who felt less lonely and less depressed. By the way, this study showed no benefits of having a close relationship with a sibling (I'm sure it's good to have this for other reasons).
Reprinted with the permission of the Davidson Institute for Talent Development. © 2008 Davidson Institute for Talent Development
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