Gifted children are at greater risk for being bullied simply because they stand out from their peers. Many of the same attributes that make gifted learners so unique are also the same ones that bullies use to pick a child out of the crowd. For example, a gifted child might struggle with anxiety or enjoy a hobby that the bullies find different. It is also common for gifted children to be physically smaller than their classmates if they advanced a grade level early. When you suspect bullying might be occurring, use these strategies to intervene and protect them before it damages your child’s self-esteem.
Recognize The Signs Of Bullying
The signs of bullying are often subtle. Your child might complain of physical ailments such as headaches that are stress-related. They may also feign illness to skip school, or they may suddenly stop spending time with their friends. Over time, bullying can manifest in increasingly serious ways such as depression and self-harm. This is why parents should always be alert for signs that a bully is harming their child.
Build Confidence Through Learning Opportunities
One way to combat bullying is to provide your child with opportunities to reinforce their self-worth. Give your child extracurricular activities that help fill their time and keep them away from the bully. Try to find things that your child will enjoy but might not get to do during their ordinary school day such as delving into robotics or learning to play a musical instrument. Building new skills will help your child feel confident in other situations.
Recognize Your Child’s Positive Attributes
Although gifted children tend to excel in everything they do, they tend to be their biggest critics. Unfortunately, your child’s perfectionist personality makes them take a bully’s cruel words to heart. Make sure your child is armed with the ability to see through negative comments by verbally acknowledging the things your child does well. For this strategy to work, it is important to choose strengths that are authentic and mention them at the exact moment you see them occurring. This helps to reinforce your child’s sense of self-worth.
Surround Your Child With Positive Peers
Being bullied makes children feel alone, especially if a crowd of kids gets together to make your child feel bad. Make sure your child has plenty of peer support by enrolling them in a school program that is designed for gifted learners. This reduces issues such as jealousy that contribute to the risk for bullying. It also puts your child in touch with other adults who understand the unique social needs of gifted learners in the classroom.
Seek Professional Help As Needed
It is always important to address bullying with school officials, coaches or other parents who are involved to stop it at its source. However, you may also need to help your child find professional support if the bullying has affected their mental health. Talking to a therapist or even a trusted teacher helps kids work through the pain caused by the bullying they endured.
When a child is bullied, it only takes a short amount of time for a great deal of damage to occur. For this reason, your job as the parent of a gifted learner is to recognize their risk for being bullied so that you can take steps to stop it immediately. Stay attuned to your child’s behaviour, and you can immediately begin working to stop the bullying while preserving your child’s right to live and learn in a supportive environment.
This sponsored post was written by Oak Crest Academy -“Oak Crest Academy has adopted the William & Mary Gifted Curriculum as the heart of our curriculum for core subjects. In addition to William & Mary Gifted Curriculum, we utilize other gifted curriculum and units to create a more customized approach for your gifted child.”