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Discussion Starter #1
my close friend's DD is almost 7. i have known her since she was 2. she is a very verbally gifted kid. she has a tremendous memory and vocabulary and reads many years above her age.<br><br>
but she has a serious mean streak. i have never seen a 6 year old talk abut ranking her friends (man is this hurtful to some of her friends), do such splitting (pitting one kid against another), threaten others if she doesn't get her way, and be so quick to verbally squash anyone she disagrees with. every time we get together it's something with her. she needs to dominate and control most social settings. (admittedly, in our group we have 4 alpha kids... in four families of kids... kids who are used to being in charge in groups and used to not taking bullshit from anyone) but here's the problem, when she acts up with my DS, he doesn't want to see her for a while. she just shrugs this off, but it really affects him. he will cry and hide and be really upset with the way she is acting. and she always blames others for her aggressive behavior. if she blows up, she blames the kids for making her mad. i am very firm with her that she may not intimidate my children and it's her responsibility to go somewhere and cool off. but she gets really angry with ME when i tell her this. she is 6!! she tries to intimidate me!!<br><br>
anyway, i am wondering if this is something seen in gifted kids. 'cause it certainly doesn't come from her parents. they are both quakers and the kindest, most loving and gentle parents. they have both tried really hard to set limits with her and make her understand how harmful her behavior is, and i'm sure they have curbed a lot of what might be really problematic behavior, but it still affects my kids. i especially hate it when she splits my kids when she is angry one of them. she can also be really verbally cruel to my 3 year old... which also gets me going. i spend time with my GF at least twice a week. (we are close friends and writing a book together) sometimes my DS doesn't want to see her because of how she acted the time before. and i find sometimes i don't want them to spend time with her either.<br><br>
anyone have any suggestions, insight, etc....
 

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Well I think you find meanness in kids without giftedness as well. However, a highly verbal gifted kid with a mean streak is hard to deal with - they have a lot of power at their disposal. I know many highly gifted kids who are extremely empathetic and sweet, I don't think meanness and giftedness go together any more than any other personality trait and IQ.<br><br>
With my friend's son with this combo - we really did have to limit contact for some time. The mom was always willing to remove him from the situation when he had difficulties. As a teen, he still has some of these tendencies, but my dd is also older and it is easier to talk over why he behaves the way he does. He also will respond to another adult telling him to cool it. I don't think he would have at 7.<br><br>
Good luck - it is a really tough place to be. Have they considered any counseling? She needs other kids to work on her social skills, but you can't sacrifice your own children if she is so hurtful. I would encourage your friend to seek help with dealing with her daughter and helping you find tools to keep your kids safe with her as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
yeah, i guess what i mean is she seems like she is acting like a teen, but coming from the place of a 7 year old... if that makes sense. reacting to things a 7 year old reacts to, but in the way a much older child would.<br><br>
maybe that doesn't make sense?<br><br>
i guess maybe i mean social difficulties due to very uneven development.
 

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It's certainly something we've experienced though I'd say the child mentioned is an extreme case that would be more a personality issue exacerbated by the giftedness.<br><br>
My DD's GATE peers has been a constant frustration for her over the years. Most in that class are just not nice. Many are innapropriately argumentative as opposed to using debate to learn. Many have poor work ethics despite our district being extremely flexible with gifted children. Many feel above their peers, their teachers, their work even when it's a true challenge for them. There are 3 boys that bully my DS. 2 of which are also in his gifted class. I would say that most of these kids are just poorly parented though. Many parents of gifted children are too quick to excuse poor behavior on intelligence. Many put up with disrespectful attitude because they mistake it with a healthy dose of questioning authority. A child is well within his rights to ask why, to debate the merits of certain rules, ect. No one should belittle another to get their point across. Unfortuantely, I see many parents of gifted children fall into this trap and end up with kids who treat them and everyone else terribly!<br><br>
My own kids prefer the company of other high-achievers (gifted or not) or kids who share their passions (gifted or not.)
 

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Well, based on my limited experience I have not found giftedness to correlate with mean behavior. I've witnessed a lot of kids act like that, and they have typically been ND kids. They have often been poorly (not gently) parented, but not always.<br><br>
In your situation, it might be more helpful to think about ways to help your kids deal with this behavior than to wonder about why she acts like that. Perhaps that might mean that they really needs to spend less time with her. I understand that might be hard, but perhaps if you all need to get together your son could bring a book and tell her that he wants to read instead of playing. Perhaps you could promise your kids that you will leave immediately if she is mean, and then stick to it. I really don't think it is fair to force your kids into her company twice a week if she is going to be verbally abusive to them. If your son is saying that he doesn't want to be with her, I would respect that.
 

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I went to an elementary school that was highly selective and for gifted kids. There were all types in there are some seriously mean girls. I don't think its a gifted thing, per se, but she may be more effective at playing mind games b/c of her intelligence.<br><br>
I second the idea that you help coach your kids on how to respond- or, protect the younger child and coach the older one. I've had to do that with a very mean and smart neighbor girl who is 2.5 years older than my son. She has mellowed some (her parents are the nicest people, and they *have* worked hard with her setting limits, etc) and what is really interesting is that the more my son has figured out how to stand up to her, the more she actually seems to like playing with him. I also found that with this neighbor girl, being extremely clear and direct with her was helpful (like, call her out on stuff. Not in a mean, retaliatory way, but just really clear. Tell her what the boundaries are. Now, this may be hard if you are in her house, but kind of let her know you know what she is doing, and you are the boss, not her?)<br><br>
Our mean neighbor still can cause a lot of strife if she gets going with a group of the kids, and if the adults aren't available to put out fires as they happen. But she's gotten much better.
 

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I think her behavoir sounds so over the edge that it could be a personality disorder.<br><br>
I wouldn't force my child to spend time with a child like that, and I would be clear (though kind) with the parents.<br><br>
She needs help. This isn't going to get easier for her parents as she gets older. Imagine her behavoir in a 12 year old who is your height and hormonal. I'd suggest the parents get a professional involved.<br><br>
It's NOT a gifted trait. Both my kids are sweeties. Giftedness, however, makes it more difficult to deal with it. She capable of being far more manipulative because she's smarter.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
that's quite a leap... a personality disorder. in a 6 year old.<br><br>
sheesh.
 

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I don't experience meanness w/my kid-really the opposite, actually. I wouldn't label this as acting like a teen either-my pre-teen and the teens I know are really nice kids.<br><br>
It sounds as though this child could benefit from some social skills training.
 

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I don't like mean kids and I don't like mean adults...and no, I don't think it is related to giftedness, but I do think genetics plays a role in some kids. It's funny, but I can often tell which adults used to be 'mean kids' even though they have learned how to appear nice. I don't know if it's the body language they give off or what, but even when they are seemingly nice I get a mean vibe off of them. They also tend to be more cliquish than others although they probably see it as being 'involved with the community and their church'. Not coincidentally it is these very same people whose kids are suddenly becoming the clique forming bullies. If there are genes that code for this behavior I'm sure they had some evolutionary advantage which is why they persist to this day, but boy, does it get me mad. And now my kids have to deal with it.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>karne</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15422504"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
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It sounds as though this child could benefit from some social skills training.</div>
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i agree. i wonder what might be helpful.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
connie,<br><br>
i believe that kids (like adults) do well if they can. if they aren't it's for a reason. they are struggling, usually with some deficit.<br><br>
if my friend's DD is struggling with being kind, it's because something is happening she needs help with. it doesn't matter if it don't like it. i don't like it when my 3 year old chooses to poop in her pants. but i help her with it. that's my whole point of this thread. to get sme ideas about what i can do to help.
 

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seems like the child is using their powers for evil, not good.<br><br>
My gifted daughter is super quick-and can hold her own in any debate with an adult (she's 13) and sometimes she lets her 'ability' override her common sense...she can seem relentless and I have to talk to her about considering the other person, that the person is more important than winning the debate, you know? SOmetimes she needs to work at a little more consideration...but outright meanness-no, and not in her gifted friends as a rule.<br>
Seems like there needs to be some empathy developed in the child mentioned.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
anyone have any suggestions for empathy development in children?
 

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Ok, please no <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/tomato.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="tomato"> but I remember going through a pretty mean streak when I was a little older than that girl you described. For me there were a ton of crazy things going on in my life. We just went through a move, I had a less than stellar home life, and I was in a SUPER strict religious school/church where I spent most of the day practicing my handwriting. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/irked.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="irked"> (something I am STILL horrible at)<br><br>
Anyways, I went through a stage where I was picking on one girl in particular (I thought she was my friend and I thought we were making jokes, I didn't realize it was hurting her). It really took someone nicely calling me out on my actions (and it wasn't my parents who did it). At the time, it was somewhat related to giftedness because it was in a program where I was really bored and instead of accommodating for me, they taught to her level so I think I was blaming it on her (I can see that now but I definitely didn't realize that was what I was doing at the time). Some of the leaders there just really didn't seem to like me and I couldn't figure out why.<br><br>
So I guess, what I'm trying to say is that even with the nicest parents there are external factors that can cause meanness and that can be related to giftedness. I'm not sure that's what's going on with her but I do appreciate that lady who called me out on my behavior because at the time I just didn't realize it was harmful. She came to me very gently and said it (but also very clearly). It probably also would've helped if I was in a more accommodating program but I guess you can't have everything in life...
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>umami_mommy</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15422415"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">that's quite a leap... a personality disorder. in a 6 year old.</div>
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It is a leap, but her behavoir is manipulative, controlling, and cruel and nothing her parents have tried is helping.<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>umami_mommy</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15421110"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">but she has a serious mean streak. i have never seen a 6 year old talk abut ranking her friends (man is this hurtful to some of her friends), do such splitting (pitting one kid against another), threaten others if she doesn't get her way, and be so quick to verbally squash anyone she disagrees with. every time we get together it's something with her. <b>she needs to dominate and control most social settings</b>.</div>
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">she always blames others for her aggressive behavior. if she blows up, she blames the kids for making her mad....... but she gets really angry with ME when i tell her this. she is 6!! <b>she tries to intimidate me!!</b></td>
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">she can also be really verbally cruel to my 3 year old....</td>
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I wouldn't have my children around her. At all. And if I liked the parents I would gently suggest they seek professional help with her -- a counselor who works with children.<br><br>
Empathy generally develops naturally in children if they are treated with empathy and gently encouraged to be empathetic. That's totally lacking in a child with nice parents who are trying to set limits sounds to me like something is off.<br><br>
And none of this is "acting like a teen." I have older kids (12 and 13) and they are very nice.
 

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My 4 yr old is going through something similar... she's especially controlling with DS1... but then, she has a 2 mo old brother, so I think she just feels like she needs more control over her life. We're working on it...<br><br>
It's hard because she's extremely good at knowing exactly which buttons to push to get the best response. She generally doesn't try it with me, though, but she *has* been having tantrums...<br><br>
Anyway, i'm interested in knowing how to help her understand what's socially acceptable and what's not, beyond just brute force from me.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
linda, do you have any evidence that children as young as 6 can be actually diagnosed with personality disorders? i was under the impression that since young children are still developing that PD were for ages 16 and above.<br><br>
this very gifted little girl is also very imaginative, engaging, caring and sensitive. she is sometimes fearful and overwhelmed with social and new situations.<br><br>
if i had to pin point what was happening with her i would say that there were some very real deficits with social skills, cognitive flexibility skills and empathy. she is not evil, disordered or needing to be isolated. she needs understanding and compassionate adults who can guide her and provide her with good modeling.
 

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<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>umami_mommy</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15422617"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">anyone have any suggestions for empathy development in children?</div>
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I am hesitant to really get into this, simply because she's not your kid. As close as you are, you really don't know what's going on with her as well as her own parents do. There could be many different issues at play, and how her behavior should be dealt with depends on the reasons for it. In dealing with my friends' kids, I see my role as simply helping my own children articulate their own feelings. The rest is up to the parents.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
her mom and i had a discussion today and she is totally willing to look at any resources i send her regarding empathy skills training. i am also interested for my kid, who struggles with this too. (he is impulsive and can be explosive)
 
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