Fostering Relationships for GT Youth

GT kids face unique challenges when trying to find intellectual peers who share their interests and abilities. Such peers help these kids to develop self-esteem and a positive attitude toward life in general. When GT kids fail to find and build relationships with intellectual peers, they often withdraw from social interactions, may try to hide their giftedness, forgo academic opportunities, or perform poorly in school on purpose. As children withdraw from social situations or try to ‘fit in’ with age-peers, they risk further deterioration of social skills and less chances of finding true peers. This can lead to serious mental health risks.

Most gifted students express positive views about their ability to have meaningful relationships and do not perceive their designation as ‘gifted’ in negative terms. However, those with strong verbal skills faced the most difficulties with age-peers. Bullying at school is an impediment to healthy peer interactions. GT students viewed as ‘nerdy’ or ‘studious” can feel the stigma of being labeled ‘gifted’. GT students can find it difficult to make friends with others who share their passions or interests with similar academic ability.

What guidelines should be in place regarding older friends? It’s important to understand that it’s okay for GT kids to have friends that are older. This is most certainly the case for mentors; but also those with shared interests. As with any friendship, respect for each other is important. For younger children and even teens, parents bare responsibility for setting the guidelines and boundaries for older friends of their child. Guidelines should involve input from the child, set clear limits concerning appropriate activities (video games, movies), and establish curfews when necessary.

When possible, it is important for teachers to make sure that GT students have at least one other GT peer in the classroom. Even better, cluster grouping is an effective way for these students to work together and form friendships. It is important that a GT student not be the sole one in a classroom; the one who is always the top student without much effort being put forth. It can lead to egotism or the opposite; changing themselves to fit in. Teachers can facilitate many activities to promote friendships for GT students through the formation of clubs, providing volunteer opportunities, or connecting with pen pal organizations.

GT youth can do a lot to foster relationships with age-peers, too. Friendships can develop around non-academic interests. For GT youth who are isolated geographically, online friendships have become increasingly common and increase the likelihood of finding age-peers who are also intellectual peers. Participation in academic competitions/endeavors and summer camps can aid GT students in finding friends at other school campuses in the local area.

Where can parents look for peer support networks for their GT child? Parents can look for enrichment opportunities (summer programs, academic-based camps) where their GT child can connect with like-minded friends. For younger children, this includes setting up playdates. They can tap into existing adult networks (gifted conferences, online organizations, social media connections) which include youth programs or create networks by starting parent groups.

A transcript of the chat can be found at Wakelet.

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Thursdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Fridays at Noon NZST/10AM AEST/1AM UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Wakelet. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news and information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

About the authorLisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: gtchatmod@gmail.com

Resources:

Building Peer Support Networks for Gifted Kids

Friend, Foe, or Frenemy? : The Complexity of Gifted Friendships (2021 Kane)

A Parent’s Guide to Gifted Children (Webb)

Social – Emotional Adjustment and Peer Relations | Coppell Gifted Association

“Play Partner” or “Sure Shelter”: What Gifted Children Look for in Friendship | SENG

Gifted Children and Social Relationships

Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students: Helping Kids Cope with Explosive Feelings (Fonseca)

Gifted Children: Navigating Peer Relationships

The Social and Emotional Development of Gifted Children: What Do We Know? (book)

Guiding the Gifted: Peer Relationships (pdf) | Advanced Academics Austin ISD

Peers’ Relations of Gifted Students | Congresso International de Sobredotacao (Research Gate)  

Gifted Children and Friendships

Social-Emotional Needs of Gifted Learners (pdf) | Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Soothing the Souls of Our Gifted Learners during the COVID-19 Crisis (pdf)

Reducing Levels of Maladaptive Perfectionism in Gifted Youth through a Mindfulness Intervention (pdf) | University of Northern Colorado Dissertation

Why Are Support Groups For Parents Of Gifted Children Necessary?

If I Had a Gifted Child What I Would and Wouldn’t Do | Psychology Today

Academically Gifted Students’ Perceived Interpersonal Competence and Peer Relationships (Abstract Only) | Gifted Child Quarterly

High-Ability Influencers? The Heterogeneous Effects of Gifted Classmates (pdf)

The School Counselor and Gifted and Talented Student Programs (2019) | American School Counselor Association

Social Self-Concept, Social Attributions, and Peer Relationships in Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Graders Who Are Gifted Compared to High Achievers (Document Preview) | Gifted Child Quarterly

A Case Study on Social-Emotional Problems in Gifted Children (2020)

Emotional Intelligence Profiles and Self-Esteem/Self-Concept: An Analysis of Relationships in Gifted Students (2021) | International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health

Navigating in a Social World: Strategies for Motivating Gifted Children (pdf)

Counseling GT Students through Relationships

Mimicry and Mirroring Can Be Good or Bad https://bit.ly/3ckaNBa

Photo courtesy of Pixabay Pixabay License

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad

Posted on June 7, 2021, in Bullying, Emotional Intelligence, Emotional intensity, family, Fonseca, Mental Health, parenting, Social Emotional and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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