By Cheryl Maday, published on November 1, 1999 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016
Everyone knows that academic achievers in high school are often
resented or taunted for their smarts. Ann Swiatek, Ph.D., assistant
professor of psychology at Lafayette College, has discovered ways gifted
students make friends despite their nerdy reputations.
Using the Social Coping Questionnaire, a series of 35 questions
that assess thoughts, feelings and behaviors related to being gifted,
Swiatek has found that boys tend to fend off negative reactions with a
"class clown act," while many girls deny being "gifted" altogether. Some
of their healthier social coping strategies are: helping students with
schoolwork; highlighting similarities between themselves and other
students such as interest in sports or movies; using wit and humor to
make people laugh; and getting involved in activities.
When all else fails, Swiatek discovered that kids cope with their
gifted stares by denying the value of social ties. But she warns that
belittling intelligence or blowing off loneliness can prevent them from
living up to their potential.
Swiatek encourages parents to find places for their children to
interact with other exceptional kids, such as special classes or
extracurricular activities, "allowing them to see there's nothing wrong
with being gifted."