When talking about a child, the term “peer” typically refers to other kids the same age. It isn’t that cut and dry, though, when referring to a child with asynchronous development.
By its very definition, asynchronous development means the child is developing unevenly (or out of sync) from most kids the same age. Perhaps even more perplexing is that these developmental areas aren’t all progressing slower than the norm, or all progressing faster than the norm. It’s a mixture!
Asynchronous development is a hallmark of giftedness. Areas, such as intellect, develop faster than normal, while other developmental areas, such as social skills, progress at the same rate or slower.
This poses quite a conundrum when gifted children try to fit in. For some, it can feel downright impossible.
Asynchronous development – and the challenges that can accompany it – are why I call these children kite kids. They have a lot of potential, but they also deal with very unusual obstacles.
When referring to a kite kid, an “age peer,” as the name implies, is what gifted experts call children who are about the same chronological age as the gifted child. (Another term for this is “age mate.”)
Unfortunately, age peers often don’t “get” their gifted classmates or neighbors, or they think they’re annoying.
This doesn’t mean friendships with age mates are impossible, though. If both children are extroverted and goofy, or both are introverted and bookish, they may get along well.
It may simply take a more effort – and even parent or teacher involvement – to help a kite kid “find his tribe.”
In some cases, gifted children get along well with older playmates because they’re more similar intellectually than age mates; however, these friendships should have boundaries.
Remember, from a social-emotional perspective, kite kids tend to act their biological age – and sometimes even younger. Older kids don’t often like younger kids hanging around because they act “babyish,” so the gifted child may not fit in well from that standpoint. Some overexcitabilities can compound this, too.
In addition, topics that an older playmate typically would discuss with his age mates may be inappropriate for a younger gifted child, even though the two may have a lot in common intellectually.
For these reasons, it’s best to limit intellectual peer friendships to interests the kids have in common, whether that’s robotics, drama, or an outdoor activity like sledding or roller skating.
Peer relationships aren’t easy for many kite kids; however, they are possible – and even one or two make a big difference. Even long-distance friendships that develop at a summer camp for gifted children can help.
If your child or student is struggling with forming these bonds, don’t give up. It will happen. Here are some ideas: