Every child has strengths and weaknesses. The role of parents, teachers, counselors and coaches is to not only leverage kids’ strengths, but to guide and encourage them in areas where they flounder – especially when it’s a skill that’s vital to being successful in life.
If you have a gifted child who often is bullied or ignored, part of it is probably due to his asynchronous development; another factor may be an overexcitability. These traits are very noticeable to peers – and some will point them out.
Most gifted children (I call them kite kids) outgrow their uneven development by adolescence; however, because some are rejected so often during their formative years, other issues, such as anxiety and depression, can take its place.
In other words, waiting for a gifted child to outgrow his asynchronous development, or “figure things out” on his own, can be risky. That’s why, when there’s a significant struggle socially or emotionally, I think it’s best to deal with it then, when they’re young.
It’s kind of like getting a tutor. Some kids have math tutors; kite kids simply need help with social-emotional skills – and possibly another issue if the child also has a disability (called twice exceptional or 2e).
Here are some ways to help:
- A full psychological evaluation. While this may sound scary or like overkill, you might be surprised by what you find out. The evaluation is series of tests that can reveal an important puzzle piece or two. See if you can get one through your school. If so, it’s cheaper and they’ll also already have the information they need if
curriculum changes are necessary.
- Books that focus on common social challenges kids face and how to address them. One that my son and I both think is great is Growing Friendships: A Kids’ Guide to Making and Keeping Friends. The light bulb seemed to go on for him at various points as we read through it. He also appeared to feel more confident afterward.
- A child psychologist or therapist, especially one who is well-versed in giftedness. They can work with your child on common social challenges.
- If your child is being teased or excluded, tell his teachers, bus driver and other adults who may be able to help. Privately, of course, to spare your child further embarrassment. This can be more challenging with bus drivers, but you can slip her a note during pick-up or drop-off, or talk with the school office who can help pass information along to her.
- Other kids with common interests and abilities. This may sound obvious, but keep trying to help your child “find his tribe.” Because they develop out of sync, kite kids may have one or two groups that include older kids. This is okay for area(s) in which they’re gifted, but monitor this closely to ensure your child isn’t also receiving information above his social-emotional age.
- Subscribe to Parenting for High Potential. NAGC’s quarterly, award-winning magazine that offers advice, resources, and tools to help you successfully navigate the joys and struggles of raising your kite kid.
Asynchronous development, which often includes a lack of social and/or emotional intelligence, can be challenging and stressful. However, with extra support, your child can learn the skills that have eluded him and help him achieve better success.