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Why does my gifted child lag in social skills?
Q: My 6-year-old son is in a gifted education program. He is academically bright but very impulsive, especially when he sees other kids his age. He forgets what he is doing and gets very excited. How do I control this?

He is a very good reader and can add, subtract and multiply. But he hates to play outside, ride his bike or do anything that makes him work hard. He gets totally excited and hardly listens to us when he sees his friends. He forgets to eat, go the bathroom, etc.
A: If your son has been placed in a gifted education program, he is obviously developmentally advanced in academics. However, in other areas he may not be gifted but may actually be a bit behind where you think he should be. To me it sounds as though neither his social skills nor his motor skills have kept up with the academic area. I don’t know whether that has happened because these aspects of his development have not received as much attention and encouragement from you and his father as the academic area, or whether his intrinsic social and motor skills are simply not as outstanding. But don’t be too perturbed. This type of uneven development is very characteristic of young children. Most do not proceed at the same level in every area of development but show ups and downs just as adults do.

In relation to his interactions with other children, I’d start by finding out from his teacher whether he shows this excitability in school. If it were a problem at school, I believe you would already have heard about it. Maybe it occurs mainly at home. If so, I would try to give him more opportunities to play with other children at home when you are there to supervise. You should position yourself near the children so that you can quickly step in if things begin to get out of hand, or if he begins to do things of which you didn’t approve. As far as motor development goes—things like riding his bike—give it time. Try to find activities that the whole family can do together. That might make the “extra effort” he has to expend seem more worthwhile to him. In the meantime, do not be so concerned about these behaviours that you forget to reward him for his outstanding academic behaviour.