friendship and peers

But if he is a gifted child, one in a hundred, he has to know 100 other boys to find one like himself, and half the time the hundredth child is a girl, and he’s sunk. It does no good to tell the child at this stage that the world is made up of all kinds of people, and he must like them all. He starts in by identifying with someone like himself. Many gifted children develop imaginary playmates to fill the void left by not having any true peers… A gifted child with a chronological age of 8 and a mental age of 11 can’t be expected to play with average children of either age–he won’t get along with his age peers and average children aged 11 won’t admit him to their games. He needs to find another child who is 8 but thinks like 11. This may take some parental doing, but it’s much better than letting the child develop lonely, antisocial habits because no one else seems to be like him. So when a child becomes so absorbed in his own activities that he doesn’t have friends, it’s because he hasn’t had a chance to make the right kind. – John Curtis Gowan and E. Paul Torrance, Educating the Ablest – A Book of Readings on Education of Gifted Children

Sometimes gifted children find it hard to make friends. The more gifted the child, often the more difficult finding friendships with same age children can be. If your child is one of those children who complains that the other kids don’t understand his games, sits quietly under a tree during lunch, or would prefer to spend time with the teacher at recess instead of their classmates, then it may be worth doing some research on the social needs of gifted children. When we get older we are not forced to spend our days with others who are the same chronological age, instead we seek out like minds. At school, where kids are placed together due to their birth date, seeking out such like minds can be problematic. Research suggests that there is an optimal level of intelligence; a level where a child has the potential to both do well academically and also socialise well with same age peers. However, once a child becomes more than, what is frequently described as, ‘optimally gifted’, issues such as social isolation and feelings of not fitting in can become problematic. That’s not to say that kids who aren’t gifted don’t suffer such issues, but there are a group of social and emotional issues that do seem to be particularly prevalent in highly gifted children. By encouraging your child to cherish their differences, gifts and passions you can help them build resiliency, empathy and confidence in relating to others :) .

Miraca Gross offers a great overview on what gifted children look for in a friendship.

Linda Silverman provides some ways in which you may be able to help your child in their development of positive social  interactions.

A great article looking at the process of forming an identity and how this relates to friendship.