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Developing Social Skills in Gifted Children

gtchat 04122016 Social Skills


“The day a child is identified as a gifted learner life changes for them and their families.” ~ Angie French

Social skills are necessary skills that allow children to get along with others; especially age-peers. These skills include self-control, good manners, and being able to cooperate, communicate and engage with others. These skills are not innate; they must be taught and gifted children are no exception. Too often adults mistakenly think all gifted children can develop social skills instinctively.

“Social skills is a huge area encompassing all the ways we get along with other people – parents, peers, teachers, etc. [They] include a vast array of “hidden” and “zero order” skills – things only noticed when they fail. GT kids may need extra help with social skills, as their peers might be few and far between ” ~ Dr. Peter Flom

Academic placement can affect social competency. Poor and inappropriate placement exacerbate its development. When gifted kids enter school without social skills, behavior can be misinterpreted as being spoiled rather than being bored and unchallenged. (Ruf)

Who should be responsible for teaching social skills – parents, schools, or both? Although both parents and schools need to teach social skills, it initially starts at home. Basic social skills need to be in place long before the child enters school. For gifted students, schools need to differentiate instruction taking asynchronous development and individual needs into consideration.

“Parents can be their safe place of acceptance. GT kids often feel different – being OK with self can help with social anxiety.” ~ Shanna Weber

The conversation then turned to where and how should social skills be taught in schools – regular classroom; pull-out sessions; with intellectual peers? Social skills can be incorporated into all phases of school life. Pull-out classes can deal with issues associated with giftedness. Regular classrooms provide the opportunity to practice social skills with age-peers. Particular skills may need to be taught when gifted kids are working with older intellectual peers; new circumstances. Margaret Thomas added an important reminder, “GT kids don’t want to be singled out, condescended to, or lumped with label of lacking emotional intelligence.”

“Let kids problem solve social issues. Don’t rescue them but guide them. Nudge them to get comfortable with uncomfortable.” ~ Valerie King

What are some things parents can do to teach social skills at home? Modeling good behavior at home is an important part of parenting. They can be vigilant in discussing the importance of other’s feelings (empathy) in response to one’s own behavior. Jo Freitag of Gifted Resources and Sprite’s Site suggested, “Parents can role play possible situations with their children to try various outcomes.” Parents need to set clear rules and family standards; have high, but reasonable expectations. (Pfeiffer) They should look for signs of aggressive or anxious behavior; consider professional help when necessary. Carol Bainbridge, gifted expert at, added, “Responses children get from parents, peers, and teachers helps them learn what is and isn’t appropriate social behavior.” A transcript of the chat can be found at Storify.

“Final thought: Just as we never stop learning, we never stop building social skills. Everyone can develop confidence with others.” ~ Jeremy Bond


gtchat-logo-new bannner

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Tuesdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Wednesdays at Noon (12.00) NZST/10.00 AEST/1.00 UK  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:


Highly Gifted Children & Peer Relationships

Raising a Well-Adjusted Gifted Child: Value of Promoting Social Intelligence

Social Skills

Social & Emotional Issues 

Teaching Social Skills to Young Gifted Children: Why & How

AUS: Behaviour, Emotions, Social Development: Gifted & Talented Children

How to Teach Social Skills to Gifted Kids

The Psychosocial Concerns & Needs of Gifted Students (pdf)

Tips for Parents of Gifted Children: What Most Parents Wish They had Known

How to Help Your Gifted Kid Thrive

The Relationship between Placement & Social Skills in Gifted Students (pdf)

Practical Strategies to Enhance Gifted Students Social & Emotional Skills

Turkey: A Qualitative Study to Understand the Social & Emotional Needs of Gifted Adolescents (pdf)

Develop Non-Cognitive Skills to Assure Students’ Success

Teaching Adolescents to Become Learners Role of Non-cognitive Factors in Shaping School Performance (pdf)

Early Identification of High-Ability Students: Clinical Assessment of Behavior (pdf)

Socioemotional Competencies, Cognitive Ability & Achievement in Gifted Students (pdf)

Sprite’s Site: Socialization

Sprite’s Site: Making Connections

The 7 Habits of Happy Kids (Amazon)

Humanoid Robotics and Computer Avatars Could Help Treat Social Disorders

Hoagies Gifted: Social Emotional Aspects of Giftedness

Cybraryman’s Mental and Emotional Health Page

Cybraryman’s Social Skills Page

Living with Gifted Children from Gifted Homeschoolers Forum

Writing Your Own Script: A Parent’s Role in the Gifted Child’s Social Development from Gifted Homeschoolers Forum

Photo courtesy of morgueFile.  Graphics courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

Guest: Christine Fonseca, Author of ‘Raising the Shy Child’

gtchat Fonseca Shy Child

This week, #gtchat welcomed back our friend, Christine Fonseca, Prufrock Press Author, to discuss her latest book Raising the Shy Child: A Parent’s Guide to Social Anxiety. You can check out her website and blog, follow her on Twitter, like her on Facebook, and visit her on Goodreads. You can also preview her book at Google Books.

According to Christine, Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) can be recognized by physical, cognitive, and behavioral symptoms. Physical symptoms may include headaches, nausea, palpitations, or choking. Paralyzing fear of humiliation, embarrassment by peers, excessive worry, negation, and avoidance are possible cognitive symptoms. Behavioral symptoms of SAD can include avoiding eye contact, avoiding being in the spotlight, avoiding social events, or school phobia.

Social Anxiety Disorder is more than being anxious for a moment. It can be a lifelong struggle if not dealt with early on. Kids who use excuses – constantly going to the nurse’s office, for example – to avoid certain tasks may be experiencing SAD. Because it may mimic other conditions, adults need to be responsible when dealing with a child’s anxiety!

Not all children with underdeveloped social skills will develop social anxiety. However, lacking social skills can set the stage for social anxiety. Christine told us, “SAD happens when a combination of things occur. This combo is different for everyone. Behavior inhibition, parenting style, and a traumatic event can all contribute to the development of SAD, as well as poor social skills.”

Practicing particular social skills can help any child. It sometimes helps lessen some anxiety. Acting out behaviors seem to follow anxiety. Parents and teachers need to stop and think before reprimanding a child. Kids who may be afraid of an activity may exhibit a behavior they believe will help them avoid the situation altogether. However, Christine reminded as that it is important to support giftedness before assuming SAD.

The conversation then turned to the role of perfectionism, sometimes associated with giftedness, in potential Social Anxiety Disorder. Christine believes that “perfectionism has a bad reputation.” [She] sees this as “task commitment – something that is ultimately good and necessary, but when perfectionism turns to paralysis and avoidance; THEN it is a problem. And yes, this can lead to SAD in some cases. With a mild case, you can teach social skills, work with the school to provide in class strategies, and employ CBT approaches.”

“For students experiencing SAD, support can include increased sensitivity [to the] anxiety, teaching calming techniques (deep breathing, etc) and developing safe zones at school,” Christine explained. “It’s Very important to NOT allow child to develop a habit of skipping or avoiding school or social events. This doesn’t help. [For] severe cases, use a counselor or therapist to assist. CBT and exposure methods are highly effective.”

Some behaviors come out of no where. Learning calming strategies beforehand; even practicing can be valuable. earning the triggers to anxiety can prove invaluable in the classroom as well as at home. For a more extensive review of the chat, a transcript may be found at Storify.

Raising the Shy Child Cover

Congratulations to Mr. Gelston, educator in his Virtual One Room Schoolhouse in Lexington, MA, who was the winner of a copy of Raising the Shy Child courtesy of the author!

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Fridays at 7/6 C & 4 PT in the U.S., midnight in the UK and Saturdays 1 PM NZDT/11 AM AEDT 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 new Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Head Shot 2014-07-14About 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:


How to Raise Shy Kids with Confidence

Publisher’s Weekly Select 2015 Parenting Titles

Shy Kids: Do We Really Need to Change Them?

Social Phobia at Medscape

Infant-Parent Attachment: Definition, Types, Antecedents, Measurement & Outcome 

Social Anxiety Disorder Fact Sheet DSM-V (pdf)

Social Anxiety in Children: Social Skills Deficit, or Cognitive Distortion? (pdf)

Use of Differential Reinforcement & Fading with Separation Anxiety Disorder

Promoting Adolescents’ Prosocial Behavior (pdf)

When Your Child’s Exceptionality is Emotional: Looking Beyond Psychiatric Diagnosis via SENG

What is Social Anxiety?

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

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