Prior to implementing any strategies to support your gifted child with social skills it is important to examine the behaviors and motivations. For example, many gifted children play alone. There are several possible causes for children choosing alternate activities and separating themselves from the group. Some of these might include:
Depending on which of these are the cause, your support for your child would be significantly different. Barbara Kerr’s research found that gifted girls who later became eminent adults shared a common trait…they all seemed to need large amounts of alone time to read or think or follow other pursuits. It is important for parents to ask themselves which of these four possibilities might be why their child is choosing to separate themselves from the group so that the support you provide will be the right match for solving the issue.
While some gifted children genuinely prefer being alone, it is important for them to have the option of being social by learning specific social skills. For example, saying no gracefully when asked to join a game they don’t want to join.
In lieu of simply memorizing a set of social behaviors such as knowing the appropriate distance for a conversation or learning to use eye contact; I have found that tapping into gifted kids’ interests and analytical skills can be a way to support their social minds.
Here are a few examples:
Artistic Kids – Draw contrasting cartoon characters that represent the flip side of behavior:
Theatrical Kids – Role play complex scenarios using age appropriate props: action figures, stuffed animals or siblings. Improvisation and Mime are wonderful tools as well.
Linguistic Kids – Read and discuss the inventions that were created as a result of mistakes…such as post it notes. Read Great Failures of the Extremely Successful as a prelude to examining how black and white thinking/all or nothing thinking, can impact the way we see our friends. (Many kids are hyper-critical of their friends and see them in all or nothing terms).
Analytical Kids – Observe and interpret the behavior of television characters, You Tube characters, book characters or simply by people watching. Ask them to think about a math problem: first you see the problem, then you think about the problem, and then you do the problem. Make a Venn diagram that displays the relationship between bragging and sharing OR controlling and listening OR bossing and leading.
And for all kids – help them remember, it is more important to connect then to impress.
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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