My 7 year old is going through a tough time.
We were driving home from a BBQ tonight and she said, "Mum I always feel different to everyone else, I try to be like everyone else but I just can't; no one in the world is like me." She went on to say how she practices at home to be like the girls at school.
We refer to her giftedness as being a "deep thinker". She said even other deep thinkers are different to me. She said she always ends up annoying people. She often talks about wishing she was dead because she has a bad life.
I really feel for her, and it makes me feel extremely sad that she feels like this.
I tried explaining that everyone is different but she doesn't buy into that - saying that everyone at school has someone that's like them that they gel with.
She always seems to have someone to play with, and kids that want to play with her (at the moment), but it's more about how she feels.
I think just talking about it helped her, but I wish there was something I could do or say to make it all better.
I realise this is a common theme amongst these kids, but was hoping
some of you may have some advise as to help her - what to say/do????
Me again, Just thinking (some more), I guess I just want her to feel comfortable with who she is - how do I do that? I always thought if I could find her another child in the same spectrum as her that she got along with, then hopefully she'd have a good friend that she could always feel comfortable with, but it has only just hit me tonight that that may never happen - It appears Gifted kids are all feel different from each other as well...............am I wrong?
Is she at a good school? It sounds like she is hitting peer pressure. I would be a bit worried if my (six) year old daughter was saying some of these things. I would look at some professional help if I were you. And I mean that nicely - seven is early for this sort of talk, isn't it?
I wonder if you have gotten involved with any other gifted groups in your area or if she is involved with One Day School or something similar. I think one of the greatest benefits of belonging to these is that these kids get to see others that are different too, they may not be exactly like them, but like you said there may be others close to her on the spectrum.
I think this is why my dh loves being involved with the gifted groups that he is in, he finds other like minds, not necessarily best friends, or exactly like him, but a group that he can for the most part feel a little more comfortable with.
Both of my gifted sons expressed similar feelings of alienation and personal angst and a query as to the point of life and their place in it at this age. I was very concerned at the time, but they both seemed to grow out of it.
I think that around 7 yo is when children become aware of themselves and where they fit in the world, and its a bit difficult to process that they are different and they don't actually 'fit' as well as they perceive that the majority of their peers do.
Just be there for her, listen to her and hopefully she won't feel so alone. One of my sons didn't really find 'peers' until he was in the gifted stream at Intermediate, but he still feels alone because although he might be in a group of gifted kids, none of them are 'like' him. He has now identified that childhood is something that you just have to get through as well as you can, because adulthood is where its at!!
I wonder whether talking about what she's like to do as an adult would help. E.g. doctor, musician, computer programmer, vast array of possibilities. This puts the focus on the role of the individual in the wider world rather than on the individual differences with other children right now. I remember making some choices as a child that turned out to be very good purely because my parents had encouraged me in a career path so I was quite future-focussed.
Biographies of famous people may be helpful. Particularly the loners that went on to do amazing things in the world.
Thank you for all your helpful replies.
We have belonged to the local Explorers club for over a year now which she usually enjoys. After reading your responses I'm thinking it's probably more important than I realised. I was loosing a bit of interest as I was expecting the kids to interact together more and build friendships, but maybe my expectations were too high?
We tried One Day School but unfortunately the timing was out. There was only an older class running which they allowed her to join, but it was too overwhelming for her and she hated it. I'm hoping when she's a little older that she might be prepared to try it again.
I have left a message with the Clinical Psychologist that confirmed her as Gifted & Dyslexic, so hopefully she can help us.
I like the ideas of talking more about what she thinks she'd like to do as an adult and following that lead. She is always saying I wish I was an adult and longing for it to happen.
Thanks again, and look forward to further suggestions. :-)
Dear RM, Those feelings your daughter are hard feelings, yet they also seem quite normal to me. I think what is helping my son at age of ten is having an identity as "the violin player". Having something that he excels at means it doesn't matter to him so much that he's not like the other children in other ways. Is there some interest of hers she could become the local expert on? I realise this could work both ways, but I would hope that being able to revel in the learning that her brain is capable of can lead her to appreciate herself.
In response to Heidi,
We have found this has helped with our DS6. It just sort of happened that he has become accepted that he is an expert in his class in the area of science, and he is often allowed to share and teach his classmates about his science interests. His natural strengths lay in science, humanties and teaching so it fits very well with him.
They had science as a focus last term which really fostered this. Last term was the first successful term of the year where you could see he felt he fitted because he had a role to play, one that was of interest to him, and to his classmates, and also one of importance, as he could help others by teaching them. He aimed to fill his role to the best of his abilities.
Having a role gave him a sense of purpose and feeling of fulfillment as well as having a reason to actually get things done in class. (he hates to write without a purpose so having one makes all the difference!) Having a role took the focus of feeling different or not fitting. Here's hoping that is sustained this term with a new focus on class.
Thought I'd add my tuppence worth! At nearly 40, I still feel a poor 'fit' with many people. I long knew I was 'different' from the majority and wasted many years desperately trying to mould myself to fit in. It has taken me this long to realise that my difference is due to the fact I'm gifted (and even now I'm only on this path retrospectively through realising my daughter is gifted!).
Although my daughter is younger than yours, I'm still talking to her honestly about things. I talk with her (in non-scary ways - I hope!) about how things are for me, about what works for me and what has been less effective. She definitely already realises that she's 'different' and no doubt that will be reinforced over the next few years as her self-awareness increases. One thing that I am *absolutely committed* to, is to myself model that being different is OK. I'm (finally!) happy to be as I am - yes, I'm different from the vast majority of people (which can be challenging!) but I have a fit in the world (my choice of fit - no-one elses!) and I genuinely like who I am. My dearest wish is that by truly and authentically modelling self-acceptance I can help her, in time, do the same.
One other thing, from personal experience, is that I have consciously set 'lower' expectations from friendships. I'm lucky to have a gifted and very supportive husband though have always longed for a gifted, sensitive friend who 'gets me'. I've come to the conclusion that different friends bring different qualities. I have different friends who fulfil different friendship aspects for me. Perhaps I will find all that I'd like in a single friend one day but even if I don't, what I have now is enough.
Our children, especially one of them, M, struggle with similar issues. M is so very different from peers in so many ways. I think as parents we have to find the balance between helping them accept and value their 'uniqueness' (as all parents do of course) but also recognise that they are children who are still learning to negotiate the social world around them, still learning to form and understand changing relationships and friendships. Because of this little girls will have a couple of very strong needs. They will a) want a 'true friend' and b) want to fit in with the group. Children need to feel they are accepted by and are part of the group.
With regards to fitting in with the group, I have to comment on what Heidi wrote. Your child *is* who she is and it is so important to model acceptance of this. If she excels at something, that needs to be valued and not hidden. However, we have also found that one thing that works for us is to also have M in an activity where M does *not* excel or where there is not such an opportunity for differences to be revealed. A sport for instance, where all kids are taught skills and your child's skill level is the same as everyone else ... your child doesn't even necessarily need to be that keen on the sport but our experience is that if there is such a desperation to fit in, the activity will be *loved*...because she will be "just like one of the others" even for just one hour a week. We need to accept that our children are 'different' but also acknowledge that there can still be a motivation to be just like everyone else.
I think that also relates to what Anon wrote. Different friends bring different qualities. Doing an activity where your child does not stand out may not bring that deep friendship a little girl can yearn for, but, it may help fulfil (at least partially) a desire to be accepted by 'the group'.
With regard to finding that true friend...it will come....your child is not the only 'different' or quirkly child out there. She may not immediately find a child that is "just like her" but she could well find another child that is also 'different' and so there will be an understanding of 'where not like the others'. Having that bond in common can be huge for children. Perhaps instead of focussing on trying to befriend a child that it 'just like her' you could other child who may be different to her but still dealing with similar issues. Believe me, your daughter is NOT alone in dealing with this and it sounds as if she desperately needs to know that. Can the teachers give advice on anyone else who may be feeling similar?
Our younger child (a little older than yours) took a long time to find anyone....now it has happened.
Going back to what Heidi says...again, I do agree that valuing and accepting who they are is so important. Your child clearly knows she is a 'deep thinker' and it sounds as if you have been teaching her an understanding and acceptance of this. However, do be careful to remember that your child might want to be *more than* what makes her different/what she excels at. The balance between valuing what makes them so very special and acknowledging their need to not be alone and fit in with the others is very difficult. Good luck.
Growing up I was never short of kids who wanted to hang with me at school .... it didnt matter any that I was a central figure in the "in crowd" ... it was still the same story, I was different in ways their minds couldnt even conceive ... how could they be "friends" if they couldnt even know me?
To me, kids my own age and even a few years older seemed like such - well children! Much of my differentness was attributed by older folk to the fact I was effectively raising myself and parenting my sister - in hindsight I beg to differ, if anything it allowed me to find something I likely would not have had the opportunity to otherwise - real companionship that was meaningful to me.
Quite ironic really - the one place where I would have likely APPEARED most "out of place" .... at theatre hanging with a bunch of guys 6+ years older (when I was 11-12 years old myself) was my "home" - and you know what, returning home after all these years .... I discover I still have those some friends ... and some of them even love deep meaningful discussion that requires a level of thinking that is, IME a rarity in the general population.
Actually, I think lack of parental concern served me very well, as counter-intuitive as that may seem ... but I had no one to "reinforce" my own feelings of being "ill at ease" .... no one sending the message that there actually WAS "something wrong with me" that I was such a fish out of water in so many environments - perhaps it was the next best thing to having a parent that actually had true confidence in me?