Traversing the Straits of Adolescence: A Guide for Parents of Profoundly Gifted Teens (page 3)

By — Davidson Institute for Talent Development
Updated on Jul 26, 2007

On Teasing and Bullying

Bullying (I include teasing in this category) is an unfortunate but very real part of adolescence; and, it is highly likely all PG teens have faced it. They are different and therefore subject to harassment from others--almost continuously!

The bullies thrive on "pushing buttons" and getting reactions. Walking away and ignoring the abuse is the most effective strategy; but, PG teens (who are typically very verbal) will have difficulty suffering fools gladly.

In addition, walking away will likely cause a brief (but highly stressful) increase in bullying behavior including probably pushing. The bullying will decrease (this--technically--is called Extinction) but it does take time, a lot of willpower and resiliency; especially if pushing/shoving begins to occur. See the bibliography at the end of this paper for additional resources to consult.

On "Best Practices" for Raising PG Adolescents

The job of parents is to connect with PG teens, providing them with a safe environment where they can (and do) discuss any issue without fear of quick-judgment or being told what to do; rather than having their feelings/thoughts/emotions involved in the decision. This isn't a complete list of "best practices," but it is a sure-fire start:

  • Be Flexible.  Try to brainstorm with your teen at least three potential action plans before striving to solve a "prickly" issue. Then talk through each of them together. Be willing to "chuck" them all and start again if nothing feels right.
  • Have a Sense of Humor.  Being able to laugh at yourself and with your teen (never at your teen) will keep stress and tension in check.A great sense of humor goes a long way--especially when you can point out your foibles and laugh them off to model this behavior for your teen.
  • Communicate. Talk, write, or draw how you feel and share this with your teen. Share stories about your life, especially things you messed up! It's ok to be upset and angry with a situation (notice I did not say teen!) so long as everyone knows it. You don't want to "bite anyone's head off" in the heat of the moment. Give yourself time to cool down and decompress before approaching the issue.
  • Care and Be There.  Don't be judgmental, or a "told you so" know-it-all. Rather, be a listener and help your teen develop a list of potential outcomes (remember, flexibility?) that (s)he feels good about before addressing an issue.
  • Be Committed.  Stick with your teen as (s)he is working through an issue. Check often to see how things are working out. Be available for plan revision. Above all, if you say you are going to do it! This can be as innocent as lending the car as agreed; or as complex as actually taking the vacation that always seems to be put off due to one emergency or another.
  • Be Confident.  Parenting doesn't come with a handbook (trust me when I tell you I wish it did!!). Yet, if we can own up to our limitations and admit to not knowing from time to time, our teens will respect this honesty and be much more willing to work with us, than battle our every suggestion.

As you traverse the straits of adolescence with your PG teen, keep your sense of humor; and, try to provide an "ear" more than "told-you-so" advice. Above all, marvel at the independence your daughter or son is gaining. This sense of self will amaze you as you share the growth of your family and emotions in ways you have yet to imagine.


Delisle, J. (2003). Risk-taking and risk-making: Understanding when less than perfection is more than acceptable.

Freedman, J.S. (2002). Easing the teasing : Helping your child cope with name-calling, ridicule, and verbal bullying. Chicago, IL: McGraw-Hill.

Gagne, F. (2003). Transforming gifts into talents: The DMGT as a developmental theory. In N. Colangelo and G.A. Davis, (Eds.), Handbook of Gifted Education (3rd ed., pp. 60-74). Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

Hollingworth, L.S. (1942). Children above 180 IQ Stanford Binet. New York, NY: World Book.

Kline, B. & Meckstroth, E.( 1985). Understanding and encouraging the exceptionally gifted.

McNamara, B. E., & McNamara, F. (1997). Keys to dealing with bullies. Hauppauge, NY: Barron's.

Olweus, D. (1993). Bullying at school: What we know and what we can do. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers.

Schultz, R.A. & Delisle, J.R. (2003). Gifted adolescents. In N. Colangelo and G.A. Davis, (Eds.), Handbook of Gifted Education (3rd. ed., pp. 483-492). Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

Schultz, R.A. (2003). Tips for parents on highly gifted/profoundly gifted (HG/PG) adolescence.

Permission Statement:
©2004 Davidson Institute for Talent Development.

This article is provided as a service of the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, a 501(c)3 nonprofit operating foundation, which nurtures and supports profoundly intelligent young people and to provide opportunities for them to develop their talents and to make a positive difference. For more information, please visit, or call (775) 852-3483.

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