My child has no friends because he is gifted!

Image Description
Prof.Dr. Hanna David 882   -   09-10-2021
A major part of the parents calling me are concerned because of the social situation of their gifted child. In many cases they describe it as: “my 5-year old son has very few friends” or “my 7-year old daughter does not find suitable friends”.  In such cases it is unlikely that I will be able to solve the problem immediately, without even meeting the family, let alone during a telephone conversation. But in spite of these truths, which should have been obvious to everybody, too often what follows is the explanation the parents give me: “because of being gifted […]”, namely, either they start with stating the “fact” of their child’s giftedness, and then add that the result of being “giftedness” is “having no friends”, “not having enough friends” or “not having ‘suitable’ friends” [whatever this expression means…], or they “blame” the situation of “not having any/suitable/enough friends” by the absolute “fact”: “the child’s giftedness”. It is very hard to change beliefs – as they do not rely on facts. Sometimes when you try change a person’s belief you encounter fierce resistance: you can face rejection, or even discrediting of your professional status – which is a real harm in our digital era. Nowadays negative opinions on professionals might be spread on the web very quickly; a therapist might not even be aware of what has been written about her or him while “everybody” already has read that this person is a bad therapist; a professional who thinks “they know it all”; a counselor that “cares only about making money” etc. So once a parent believes that a gifted child is doomed to social loneliness there is almost nothing to be done. Of course, the parents can be referred to the Terman studies which have proved that gifted children were healthier – physically and mentally – than their peers, that their lives were more stable, their marriages lasted longer  and even their lives were longer and healthier than the average, non-gifted who lived in the same time at the same place [see, for example, my interview at and] However, even among the parents who are open to the idea that “a gifted child is not necessarily an outsider, he or she might have friends” they many a time think that it is their task to “help” the child get friends. Too often parents come to me after sending their child to “afternoon activity for socially struggling children” and they usually say that participating in such an activity worsened the child’s situation. Why did they think, in the first place, that a child who finds it hard to connect to “regular” or “normal” peers whose interests he does not share and/or he has not learnt yet to accommodate his vocabulary to their much limited one, would be happy among children much less intelligent than him, who also suffer from various problems? Parents who “survive” the process of setting an appointment with me, and actually come to my office at the end, are usually more ready to change their beliefs – including the one about social popularity. They understand that social standing – of a child, adolescent or an adult -– is determined by their ability to show sympathy, to identify with the “other”. Whether more intelligent or less – a child who learns to listen to friends, to keep quite when somebody is willing to express emotion or just share experiences or knowledge, will make a social success. Listening is precious, feeling empathy, participation in activities because your friend wants you to, giving up, postponing of desires and wishes are the clues not only to maturity but also to social success. Let us look into our own inner selves: who does not want an empathic friend, a friend we can rely on, somebody who will let us speak up without judgement rather than start every sentence with “I” while making everybody else wait for him to shup up?

Dr. Hanna DAVID

Image Description
Prof.Dr. Hanna David Written by

Hanna David received her PhD, "magna cum laude", from Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München and was a college lecturer in Psychology and literature. Dr. Dav


    There is no comment at the moment