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Gifted children are often teased. They not only appear different to their peers, but they perceive themselves as different — and at a very young age. Not only are they interested in different activities than other children their age, but they also tend to have a longer attention span and a more intense way of approaching problems and situations. At the same time, young gifted children are highly sensitive; in fact, heightened sensitivity is one of their characteristics. They may seem more mature than their age-mates, but they do not have the coping skills to ward off the slings and arrows of life.
If your 5- to 8-year-old child is being teased, you can:
• Sympathize with her hurt feelings. Comments such as "That must have felt awful" make your child feel as if she has your full understanding and support.
• Adopt a problem-solving approach. You can say, "I'd really like to understand what happened." Ask for specifics so you see under what circumstances the teasing occurred. If you know the context, you can help her to find a solution.
• Initiate a brainstorming session. Gifted children love brainstorming. Say "Let's figure out what to do if that happens again." Ask her to come up with a list of ways she can react in the future, ranging from the completely silly to the very reasonable. You could start with a game called SCAMPER. Ask your child to use each letter in that word to find a solution. For instance, "Send for my triceratops" or "Create an inflatable bicycle to ride away on." The sillier the better. By seeing that she has options, your child will feel reassured that she doesn't have to passively accept the teasing, but can defend herself.
If these strategies don't work and the teasing becomes more relentless, you may have to ask your child if she wants you to intervene by talking to the children or to other adults who are around when the teasing occurs.