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Bullying and Gifted Students

 

Bullying is not an easy topic to discuss, but an important one when it comes to gifted children who are all too often the target of bullies. What signs should parents/educators look for if they suspect a child is being bullied? Parents of a child they suspect is being bullied should be concerned if their child suddenly does not want to go to school, shows signs of bodily injuries, or has trouble eating or sleeping. Children who are being bullied may avoid talking about it with parents, teachers of school staff fearing reprisals by the bully. Teachers who suspect a student is being bullied should look for changes in classroom behavior, expressed fears of being alone, or a change in grades and or academic performance.

What are the consequences of bullying/cyberbullying? Both can lead to increased school absences, low self-esteem, and underachievement. Bullying can also lead to more serious consequences such as anxiety, depression, and physical harm to the child. Unreported bullying can quickly escalate to criminal acts such as extortion, theft, and sexual harassment or assault.

To reduce bullying, schools should consider introducing Anti-bullying & Positive Behavior Programs at the elementary level. Providing students with information and strategies to counter bullying have proven effective in preventing it. Teachers and staff can watch for signs of bullying at school and initiate conversations with parents when necessary. Parents may not even know their child is being bullied at school.

Providing a safe and loving environment for your child throughout their life can increase the likelihood that they will confide in you should bullying occur. Parents should contact their child’s teacher and school personnel if they know or even suspect their child is being bullied; keep detailed written accounts of what occurred. When bullying takes place at school, parents should allow school personnel to contact and resolve the issues with the bully’s parents.

Parents may need to contact health professionals if their child sustains physical injury or shows signs of mental health issues. They should follow up with school personnel if they are not satisfied with actions taken by their child’s school to resolve any incidents of bullying or if there is continued bullying. Parents should report suspected criminal actions to law enforcement. Oftentimes, this may be the difference of one child or many children being bullied or worse.

What should parents look for and then do if their child is bullying others? Parents don’t like to admit their child may be the bully, but it can happen. Parents should be alert to increased aggression at home or reported by school and refusal to accept responsibility. They should monitor their child associating with a new group of friends, involvement in fights or altercations, disciplinary actions at school and lying about their actions or whereabouts.

A transcript of this chat can be found at Wakelet.

Addendum: One Mother’s Story

“What signs should a parent look for if they suspect their child is being bullied? Changes in behaviour. With our son he started to withdraw very subtly and in hindsight the teachers were like “oh yea something must have been going on”.  Our son tried to tell the principal, but when she didn’t do anything he stopped trying to talk to her and assumed he was to manage on his own. He is in Jr High and verbally gifted.

What are the signs of bullying? Parents should look for poor health, grades, and impacts on mental health. Our son was in so much quiet pain that he was thinking suicidal thoughts, he stopped doing activities he loved, and stopped trying to participate in school. He became fearful and because the bullying escalated, he has been seeing a professional to heal from the trauma.  He started to disbelieve that adults would help or make things better, and assumed that it was because they didn’t really believe him or care.

How can teachers help? LISTEN. That is the BIGGEST thing.  A gifted student may not ask for help in tears or in a panic, but through conversation or asking for change. They may not wish to harm their abusers by ratting them out. They want to have the bullying stop. Our son tried for months to be heard. Years really. What hurt him wasn’t what the teachers or administrators thought was ‘really bullying’, but it was. And when it escalated, the damage also escalated. Don’t assume that only one type of bullying is happening or that you child isn’t trying to do things to protect themselves. Our son was pursued, harassed and even in class because the bullies were both aggressive and subtle. It took a chance turn around for a teacher to catch them in a horrible act IN CLASS and really step up the school’s response. Teachers should have a safety plan. Have an escape from danger, a safe person to talk to and safe place to go. Ideally once the bullying person is identified they are the ones who should leave the classroom. Being exiled from class because you are being hurt can add insult to injury for a gifted student who wants to learn more than anything else.  Let your administrators and your gifted child know that asking for help, and being safe is JOB #1. There is no shame or blame in walking away from a bad situation. Finally, teachers need to understand giftedness and asynchronous development. That intellectual conversation you are having may be with someone who is emotionally feeling things at a much younger place. Don’t assume that because they are having a rational discourse that inside they are not totally freaking out and in panic mode. Masking is an art form with some gifted and many neurodiverse people. They won’t want to be more vulnerable and risk being hurt more.

What can parents do to help their child who is being bullied? You are their champion at school, their advocate. Believe them, support them as they heal and recover. Try very hard to let them tell you what’s going on with an open mind. get them mental health supports as needed. Consider alternatives for schooling (we have moved to a blended classroom and homeschool option which is going great). BELIEVE THEM. Even if you think their perception is skewed or their reaction is excessive. They need to know they are heard and supported first and foremost. Sorting out the details can come later, with professional help if needed (and it does help A LOT).

When should parents take a stronger stance against bullying? Looking back because hindsight is 20/20, I would say from the beginning I was sucked into believing the school’s process would work. And it didn’t. Not for a gifted child who was highly sensitive, verbally gifted and very asynchronous. I will always carry some anger and some blame for how things went. Be assertive and try cooperative measures early one. Don’t take their pat answers and if your gut is saying something won’t work speak up.  The systems most schools have in place for addressing bullying are not meant for extremes in bullying or escalations. They are also very much designed for neurotypical students. These are not things that work for gifted folks. There are no one-size-fits-all solutions.”

Special thanks to Shanyn for sharing her story with us!

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 2PM NZDT/Noon AEDT/1 AM 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.

Lisa Conrad 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:

NAGC Parent TIP Sheet: Bullying (pdf)

NAGC Parent TIP Sheet: Cyberbullying and Gifted Children (pdf)

Covert Aggression and Gifted Adolescent Girls (pdf)

Bullying and Gifted Learners

Stopbullying.gov

Bullying Among the Gifted: The Subjective Experience

Bullies and Bullying

Gifted and Tormented

Teasing and Gifted Children

Cyberbullying and Sexting: Technology Abuses of the 21st Century

Bullying and the Gifted: Answers for Better Understanding

Why Gifted Students Are Targeted by Bullies

Gifted, Bullied, Resilient: A Brief Guide for Smart Families (book)

Gifted Kids, Cyberbullying, and Digital Citizenship: Helpful Resources for Parents

Study: Gifted Children Especially Vulnerable to Effects of Bullying

Gifted and Bullied (pdf)

Bullying and the Gifted: Victims, Perpetrators, Prevalence, and Effects

Why Gifted Students Are Targeted by Bullies

Guest, Pamela Price, Author of “Gifted, Bullied, Resilient: A Brief Guide for Smart Families

Photo courtesy of Pixabay Pixabay License

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

Guest, Pamela Price, Author of “Gifted, Bullied, Resilient: A Brief Guide for Smart Families”

 

gtchat 07172015 Gifted Bullied Resilient

This week on #gtchat we welcomed Pamela Price, author of Gifted, Bullied, Resilient: A Brief Guide for Smart Families.  This marks the 7th book in the Perspectives in Gifted Homeschooling Series from Gifted Homeschoolers Forum and Pamela’s second book in the series. Her first book was the very popular, How to Work and Homeschool: Practical Advice, Tips and Strategies from Parents. Other titles in the GHF Press series may be found here. Pamela’s blog, “Red, White and Grew with Pamela Price” can be found here.

howtoworkandhomeschool

We first examined ‘why’ gifted kids are bullied. It was a general consensus that gifted kids are seen as ‘different’ and misunderstood. Pamela told us that the “reasons are as varied as individuals, but gifted kids are bullied for “difference” including social and intellectual variance.” Lisa Lauffer of Artisan of Creative Miracles pointed out that “If they’ve skipped a grade, they’re younger and smaller than others, making them easy targets.” Tracy Fisher, TAGT Board Member and Coppell ISD School Board member, added that often “they aren’t as socially savvy” and this, too, leads to bullying. Jo Freitag of Gifted Resources in Australia also mentioned that “gifted kids often have different

Tracy Fisher Coppell School Board

Tracy Fisher, Coppell School Board

interests, mannerisms, vocabulary and sensitivities – prime targets for bullies.” Corin Goodwin, Executive Director of Gifted Homeschoolers Forum, made the astute observation that we must not forget that the bully is often the victim of bullying and needs help as well.

Next, we discussed how adults can help gifted kids rise above bullying to become emotionally stronger and more self-assured. Pamela emphasized that “ALL adult stakeholders (parents, educators) must 1st become more aware of and articulate about social skills. They must think proactively about and teach social skills development. Adults also need to ‘rip off the Bandaid’ and discuss OUR experiences (past and present) with interpersonal aggression.” Mary Lovell said that “educators must differentiate for these kids…help them find their own “social place!” Madeline Goodwin told us that adults need to “give tools [to gifted kids] to handle situations – including an exit strategy for circumstances e.g. class and playgroups.”

How can parents model self-care and resilience; and why is this important? Pamela point out that “we need to stop dismissing our own pain. We need to open up, articulate things, and show the path forward. Parental self-care is essential for family well-being; especially with gifted kids and adults. We must first redefine self-care; not manicures and pedicures, but self-compassion, nurturing intellect, mind-body, etc. Kids and teens look to parents FIRST for social skills models. Self-compassion and care IS part of that. Without true self-compassion, we lack empathy and caring. Risks for negative behaviors then RISE and we lack fuel to manage outcomes. Parents must see themselves as deserving of care and capable of rebound and boundary setting; kids are watching, learning, and absorbing.”

Then, we turned our attention to the role mindfulness plays in supporting a child’s emotional growth. Pamela told us we need to “contrast poised ‘mindful’ with erratic ‘mindless.’ The first is CRITICAL for optimal life experiences. The second will lead to self sabotage. Mindfulness is critical to managing emotions and positive social interaction; especially with overexcitabilities or most social skills deficits. Mindfulness practice nurtures self-acceptance and compassion. It avoids positive/negative hyperbolic self talk.”

At what point is it time to call a therapist? From Pamela:

  • If there are signs of PTSD or other trauma
  • If a child or family needs help nurturing positive social skills, a competent therapist can be a great help
  • Extra consideration for a good therapist should be given if bullying is adult to child. Help build bridge to other adults

Finally, we discussed what steps parents should take in dealing with school bullying and why haven’t zero-tolerance policies worked. “In the school setting, approach is step-wise and up the hierarchy,” said Pamela. She went on to say, “this can work for or against a parent’s confidence. Parental composure is VITAL. No slamming the school or other kids publicly on social media. [If there is] illegal activity, call the police. There is a sample in the book of an email template for dealing with schools. Zero tolerance is a hammer. Real change comes via patience, practice, social change; Learn the difference between “meanness” and “bullying.” A transcript of this week’s chat can be found at Storify.

PLEASE NOTE: Next week’s #gtchat will be at a special day but same time, on Thursday, July 23rd at 7E/6C/5M/4P. We will be LIVE from this year’s Annual SENG Conference in Denver, CO. Our guests will be from the Bright Not Broken Lorna Wing Institute of America and we’ll be chatting about twice-exceptional kids.

 

gtchat-logo-new bannner

 

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Fridays at 7E/6C/5M/4P in the U.S., Midnight in the UK and Saturdays 11 AM NZST/9 AM AEST to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Head Shot 2014-07-14  About the author: Lisa 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

Links:

Gifted Kids, Cyberbullying & Dig Citizenship: Resources for Parents via @jadeannrivera

Trauma-Proofing Your Kids: Parents’ Guide for Instilling Confidence, Joy & Resilience (Amazon)

The Bully, the Bullied & the Bystander: From Preschool to High School (Amazon)

Bullied: What Every Parent, Teacher & Kid Needs to Know about Ending Cycle of Fear (Amazon)

Social Thinking

Inside the Bullied Brain: The Alarming Neuroscience of Taunting

Mindfulness Can Literally Change Your Brain

Gifted & Homeschool Friendly Professionals

Gifted, Bullied, Resilient: A Brief Guide for Smart Families via @GiftedHF

Gifted, Bullied, Resilient: A Brief Guide for Smart Families (Amazon)

Gifted Bullied Resilient Front Cover

Pamela Price Author’s Page at Amazon

Study: Gifted Children Especially Vulnerable to Effects of Bullying

If This is a Gift, Can I Send it Back? (Amazon) via @laughingatchaos

If This is a Gift

{Book review} Gifted, Bullied, Resilient

Cybraryman’s Bullying Page

Report: Professional Development Related to Anti-Bullying Policies Lacking in American Schools 

Relationships Require Work

Title graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

How to Work and Homeschool with Pamela Price

howtoworkandhomeschool

Global #gtchat welcomed the newest author from Gifted Homeschoolers Forum, Pamela Price, to chat about her new book ~ How to Work and Homeschool: Practical Advice, Tips and Strategies from Parents; the latest in the Perspectives in Homeschooling Series from GHF Press. A  full transcript is available here.

By way of introduction, Pamela explained that she is a working, homeschool mom of one from near San Antonio, TX. Her son’s severe peanut allergy was the initial reason for her decision to homeschool. Soon thereafter, she learned about GHF which helped her to understand that she had made the right decision.

Pamela Price

Pamela told us that one thing she  hoped came through the book is the diversity of the growing homeschool movement. Another point she tried to make was that it is possible for single parents to work an homeschool as well. Much of her content was drawn from readers of her blog, Red, White and Grew.

How to Work and Homeschool is certainly an important resource for homeschoolers and a great addition to the GHF library!

You can follow Pamela and Gifted Homeschoolers Forum on Twitter.

Links:

GHF Press

How to Work and Homeschool (Amazon)

How to Work and Homeschool (book excerpt)

Red, White & Grew’ Pamela Price’s blog

About Pamela Price

How to Work & Homeschool ~ website

Pamela Price on Pinterest

How to Work and Homeschool (Facebook)

From @GiftedHF Homeschooling Resources

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