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Friendship and Giftedness

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: I am writing about my son Cyrus. He is 4, turning 5 in February of 2006. He recently began pre-school. The pre-school teacher has said she believes that he could be gifted. Also, during Cyrus's pre-school check-up, the P.A. mentioned to me about having him tested for giftedness. He said that Cyrus's thought process was so much more advanced than what a 4 year-olds is. He said something about his quick sense of humor. Cyrus is fascinated with anything to do with numbers - time, dates, counting. He can count to 1000. Instead of being read smaller, younger-aged books, he would prefer to be read big chapter books or informational books. He knows the names of the planets, states, and some of their capitals. He constantly wants to know "why" about everything. Last night he asked how much blood does your heart hold!!

At pre-school, he doesn't want to sit during circle time. The pre-school teacher says that it took Cyrus a while before he warmed up to the other kids. She asked if he spends time outside of school with kids his own age. He doesn't.

At home, he has a 3 year old brother, but they don't really play together much. He would rather be with his 14 and 16 year old brothers playing video games or football with them and their friends. I am not real sure if he is gifted, or what to do next. Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

A: Cyrus is already 5 now and I am sure that he has advanced much more by now. From your description, he does sound above average especially with his thirst for knowledge. I do wonder if he is in a regular pre-school or have you had him enrolled in a pre-school that is not very academically based. Gifted children need environments where they are able to explore and do lots of hands-on activities.

Generally, children choose friends based on the similarities of mental age, which means friends of gifted children are usually other gifted children. In this case, Cyrus’s similar ability peers of his age are not readily available at home or at school, therefore he seeks company of children who may be a few years older than him with whom he is able to relate comfortably. These are children/adults who resemble him somewhat in mental age, or whom he enjoys their company as he feels challenged, which is exciting for a gifted child.

His teachers may have misunderstood this and assumed that Cyrus does not easily form friendships with his age-peers and assumes that he is "emotionally immature", which is in fact the very opposite. You may want to talk to his teachers about his gravitation towards mental age peers. As he grows, he may feel "different" and perhaps even get worried. As parents, you may want to consider discussing the chronological age/mental age/emotional age discrepancy with him. He must be reassured that individual differences are a part of life.

Depending on where you live, you may also want to join any parent support group for gifted children or associations. Support is important and even if there is no direct support, there is a lot of information on the internet that you may find useful. Good luck!


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