There is a common misconception that gifted children experience more social and emotional troubles than average children, however, such assertions are not supported by research. In fact, most gifted young people are well-adjusted. To better understand the nature of friendship and its relation to giftedness, we recommend reading the following articles.
A Cross-Sectional Developmental Study of the Social Relations of Students who Enter College Early. Janos, P., Robinson, N., Carter, C., Chapel, A., Cufley, R. & Curland, M. (1988). Gifted Children Quarterly. Vol. 32, No. 1.
This article details a study of college students in the Early Entry Program at the University of Washington. The findings suggest that, although students in the program largely relied on each other for support during their first months at school, by their third year they had formed friendships with older students with shared interests. Although this study applies to a relatively small segment of the population who are surrounded by other early college entrants, the findings are important for all parents considering radical acceleration for their children.
Aspects of Personality and Peer Relations of Extremely Talented Adolescents. Dauber, S. & Benbow, C. (1990). Gifted Children Quarterly. Vol. 34, No. 1, pp. 10-14. This article begins with a strong review of existing literature, then examines differences between mathematically and verbally talented youth. The authors found significant differences between the two groups in their self-reported interactions and perceptions of social standing. This is an illuminating study that incorporates personality variables in the complex social relations of adolescents.
Friendship Patterns in Highly Intelligent Children. Janos, P., Marwood, K. & Robinson, N. (1985). Roeper Review. Vol. 8, No. 1. This article provides a compares research studies conducted across many decades that examine how well highly intelligent children make friends. The authors conclude that highly intelligent children generally show satisfactory social adjustment.
Highly Gifted Children and Peer Relationships. Dierdre V. Lovecky (1995). Lovecky addresses the skills required for highly intelligent children to successfully relate to their peers. She points out that the behaviors exhibited by unpopular average children are the same as those exhibited by unpopular gifted children. Lovecky points out ineffective social behaviors may be attributed to an inability to appropriately respond to social cues. This article points readers toward solutions.
The Impact of Giftedness on Psychological Well-Being. Maureen Neihart (1999). Neihart goes to great length in this article to debunk many widely held misconceptions about exceptionally intelligent young people. Issues ranging from depression, anxiety and suicide to self-concept and social competence are addressed through careful examination of several decades' worth of research on the psychological health of the gifted population. She concludes that many of the problems gifted young people experience are not the product of their exceptionality, but reactions to inadequate educational opportunities.
Tips for Parents: Gifted Children's Friendships Miraca Gross (2006). Gross provides a close look at emotional maturity in profoundly intelligent children and its effects on friendship. The observations here are both astute and illuminating, and may prompt that "Eureka!" moment for parents and other adults who spend time with bright young people.
Tips for Parents: Socialization and the Profoundly Gifted Child. James Delisle (2002). A synthesis of the comments contributed by parents of profoundly gifted children during an online seminar, this article contains advice and the observations based on first-hand experience.
Good Friends Are Hard to Find: Help Your Child Find, Make and Keep Friends. Frankel, F. & Wetmore, B. (1996). Perspective Publishing. Step-by-step, parents learn to help their 5- to 12-year-olds make friends and solve problems with other children. This guide also offers concrete suggestions to help them cope with teasing and bullying, both for the child who is picked on and the instigator. Based on the prestigious UCLA Children's Social Skills Program, this book teaches clinically tested techniques that really work.
Growing Good Kids: 28 Activities to Enhance Self-Awareness, Compassion and Leadership. Delisle, D. & Delisle, J. (1996). Free Spirit Publishing, Inc. This book contains examples of lessons that "allow all students to experience the joy of learning about themselves while acting in the service of others." All of the activities involve both cognitive and affective learning. They are experiential, open-ended, product-focused and flexible in scope and time. In addition, the activities can be modified to suit teachers' and students' needs.
The Gifted Teen Survival Guide: Smart, Sharp, and Ready for (Almost) Anything. Galbraith, J. & Delisle, J. (1996, revised). Free Spirit Publishing, Inc. Written with help from hundreds of gifted teenagers, this is the ultimate guide to surviving and thriving in a world that doesn't always value, support, or understand high ability. Teens learn the facts about giftedness, IQ, tests and testing; how to take charge of their lives (including expectations, perfectionism, time management and stress); how to take charge of their education (knowing their rights as students, exploring their options, choosing a college); how to build healthy relationships; and much more. Featuring insightful essays by gifted young people, inspiring quotations and appealing graphics, it's a must for gifted teens, their parents, teachers, counselors and anyone who cares about smart, creative, curious young people.
The Survival Guide for Gifted Kids: For Ages 10 & Under Galbraith, J. (1984). Free Spirit Publishing, Inc. This book has been revised and updated for today's bright, creative, talented children. Based on surveys of hundreds of gifted children, it includes first-person advice from boys and girls that's pertinent, realistic, and inspiring. It answers readers' questions about why they think and learn the way they do, what 'giftedness' and IQ really mean, different types of intelligence, how to handle high expectations, how to make school more challenging, how to cope with teasing, how to make friends, and much more.
The Social and Emotional Development of Gifted Children: What Do We Know? 2nd Edition Neihart, M., Pfeiffer, S., Cross, T. (Eds.). (2015). Prufrock Press. This book offers an examination of the essential topics related to the social and emotional development of gifted children. Instigated by a task force convened by the National Association for Gifted Children and written by leading scholars in the field of gifted education, this book includes chapters on peer pressure and social acceptance, resilience, delinquency and underachievement. Concise, comprehensive, meticulously researched and wide-ranging in its coverage, this book is essential reading.
This article is provided as a service of the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to supporting profoundly gifted young people 18 and under. To learn more about the Davidson Institute’s programs, please visit www.DavidsonGifted.org.
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