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Building Social Skills in Gifted Youths?

Cliff posted more than 10 years ago | from the creating-smart-extroverts dept.

Education 1319

UNOStudent asks: "I'm currently a Biotech undergrad at the University of Nebraska-Omaha and have spent the past several semesters mentoring gifted youngsters and have been presented with a challenge this semester. My student is unbelievably smart, however has very limited social skills, is unable to cooperate with peers, doesn't understand why they make fun of his uncombed hair, etc. Since many of us may have grown up in a similar circumstance, I'm looking for suggestions from my fellow geeks on ideas for how to challenge him mentally, while building essential social skills." How would you build social skills in someone more concerned with math, science and computers?

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Sexual Asspussy (453406) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505510)

How would you build social skills in someone more concerned with math, science and computers?


Re:I HAVE AN IDEA (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8505531)

Hire him a hooker at his young age.

Mod Parent Up, Boner. (-1)

Fecal Troll Matter (445929) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505593)

8=D ~ ~~ ~ ~

Your comment looks too much like ascii art.

Re:Mod Parent Up, Boner. (-1)

Sexual Asspussy (453406) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505669)


One word - Karate (4, Funny)

MrRTFM (740877) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505513)

Then he wont need social skills - he can kick the bully's asses and get back to doing what he loves.

There'll be time for girlfriends later (when he's rich), and who the hell said we all *have* to be open, loving marketing types anyway?

Re:One word - Karate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8505565)

Theres an inherent problem in getting a girlfriend with limited social skills.

Re:One word - Karate (5, Informative)

wankledot (712148) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505567)

As flipant as this the parent is, martial arts might be a real decent way to build some confidence in pysical activity, and get him/her interacting with people. Sports are generally a good way to do it, and martial arts are far more geeky than the usual football/baseball/soccer stuff, plus it can be competitive or not, depending on preference. Seems like all the geeks these days are little japanese culture fanboys who are into anime, and this is a natural transition.

Re:One word - Karate (2, Insightful)

MrRTFM (740877) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505624)

I wasn't being flipant.

I would have loved to been able to scare off the bullys at will, and just get back to what I was doing. And you're right, it does build social, cooperation skills.

Re:One word - Karate (5, Insightful)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505587)

That's actually not a bad idea (not for the reasons you've mentioned).

Martial Arts build self-confidence, discipline and involve teaching as well as learning (since the more advanced students will help the less advanced). This is probably a pretty good list of the things these kids need, especially if physical activity and the like aren't really their forte -- challenges are good.

I'm taking Tae Kwon Do as a 26 year-old, and I just wish I'd gotten into it sooner. I've only been at it a short time, and I already sound like one of the cheesy recruiting flyers.

As to your other point, you really shouldn't minimize the importance of a good set of social skills. Especially in our more complex world, interaction with others is a huge part of getting anything done. Being able to ask for (and accept) things, network, build relationships and function in social situations are damn nifty skills to have.

Anyhow, I think martial arts would be a good way to teach smart kids to be *smart*, rather than just bastions of niche knowledge.

Or... (0)

Sprite Remix (725063) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505684)

Have not the parents exploit the gift their child has and put him in 'special schools'.

fork! (-1, Offtopic)

Talonator (594765) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505517)

uh... put down the mouse. FACE!

Get him drunk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8505523)

'Nuff said

Let's get this out of the way...... (5, Funny)

HoxBox (670161) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505524)

Incoming a million "This is slashdot, what's a social skill" jokes....

Re:Let's get this out of the way...... (3, Funny)

.orvp (208389) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505539)

This is slashdot, what's a social skill?

And your asking slashdotters for advice? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8505526)

you must be new here.... (5, Funny)

chrisopherpace (756918) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505527)

asking slashdot on social skill questions is like asking a factory worker which distribution of Linux is better.

This is a joke, laugh.

Re:you must be new here.... (2, Funny)

jtev (133871) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505696)

When I was working in a factory I would have told you, flat out that Red Hat Linux kicks more ass than anyone else, since I've gotten a different job, I've decided I want out, and will be upgrading sideways at my next opportunity.

Reerooow! Reeerooow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8505699)


I fine you $5.00 for being a karma whore. Labelling your comments as jokes is a sign of karmawhoredom. Or perhaps its a required evil due to humorless mods. Let the courts decide!

Easy... (5, Funny)

ErikTheRed (162431) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505528)

You need incentinves. Simply explain that better social skills lead to more sex.

Re:Easy... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8505589)

Of course, for a gifted youngster, this may have the opposite effect than intended.

Re:Easy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8505590)

and more sex leads to more babies*...

no wait, we don't want more babies.

* and STDs.

anyway, this guy doesn't sound like he wants more sex (or any sex at all).

Re:Easy... (5, Insightful)

KingOfBLASH (620432) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505630)

The parent post should be modded up Insightful and not funny. One of the major reasons, IMHO, geeks and nerds do not develop social skills is because they see no need. Most kids are concerned with their classmates opinions, and being liked. Those that do not care about being liked and just want to do what they want to do -- i.e. learn math -- develop in other ways their peers do not.

Another reason I believe that gifted children do not develop social skills is they lack peers. Think about talking to a child when you're an adult. You don't talk to them on the same level because they are immature and inexperienced. It's the same sort of thing for gifted children, they see themselves as the equivalent of a 20 year old trapped in a group of 10 year olds (or whatever). Solution? Put them with people of their intelligence level in their age group and watch them grow socially. (Not an easy task if they are in the top 1% or less of the population)

3 tips that would have made my life a lot easier (0, Interesting)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505533)

1 - Keep them away from bullies and small minded people who won't understand or accept them.

2 - Once they're older, teach them how to deal with such people in an assertive manner that will be effective in defeating and suppressing anti-intellectuals.

3 - Get them laid early in life.

Re:3 tips that would have made my life a lot easie (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8505633)

Social interaction is very similar to knowing a foreign language, reading, etc. If you don't start early in life, it become increasingly difficult later once you want to pick it up. The fact of the matter is that there are small minded people everywhere and it is an essential part of social interaction. Not knowing how to deal with such people at an early age will tend to make a person antisocial as they grow up.

Re:3 tips that would have made my life a lot easie (0)

bobobobo (539853) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505680)

That's kind of unrealistic advice. I don't think it's possible to keep away bullies. Furthermore I've found it's better to deal w/ them at a younger age rather than suffering in jr. high. Get them laid early in life? What kind of advice is that? They can barely talk to girls as it is, why force the pressures of sex on them at such a young age? Remember you must walk before you can run!

Re:3 tips that would have made my life a lot easie (4, Insightful)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505689)

How did this get modded insightful?

Isolating children from peers and reality is not a good way to impart social skills. Communicating to them from a young age that they're special and better than other people is a negative towards producing functional adults.

Social skills are built through experience, now from memorizing a set of strategies for coping with the stupidity of other people. If part of that is learning to deal with people who don't like you (for any reason), well, that's life.

I see this sort of idiotic reasoning as crappy self-justification, sort of an "I'm better than everyone and that's why they hate me". People who adopt this sort of view are walking down a dangerous road towards more isolation (and probably the things that go with it, like depression or other psychological problems). It's the wrong way to go.

And I know of whence I speak -- I got my ass kicked on occassion in grade school. I had to deal with all the names and other bullshit. But hey, that's life. Learning to deal with advesity is what makes a person who they are.

Work in Teams (5, Insightful)

Grassferry49 (458582) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505534)

Divide up the project so that he only has a piece of the puzzle and will fail unless he is able to interact with the other team members to get it to work. Also play lots of games where social interaction is involved to solve the problem, human knots, simple ball games, you know those group building games we all hate.

Role-playing games. (5, Funny)

Discopete (316823) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505535)

This did wonders for my social skills.

Get him into dungeons and dragons. Find a group at a local shop or a campus club that will allow him to join as a newbie.

Most experienced DM's enjoy seeing new players grown and mature while learning and playing the game.

Re:Role-playing games. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8505566)

This did wonders for my social skills. Get him into dungeons and dragons.

Christ, we're trying to HELP the kid, not condemn him to being a virgin until he dies!

Re:Role-playing games. (3, Interesting)

Discopete (316823) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505573)

Didn't give me any problems, been married for 10 years.

Re:Role-playing games. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8505612)

Which has been married for 10 years; you or your character?

Re:Role-playing games. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8505637)

have any kids?

Re:Role-playing games. (1)

Discopete (316823) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505670)

Nope, wifes on BC. Don't want kids at this point in life.

If I cant support them I wont make them. More couples should seriously follow that rule.

Re:Role-playing games. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8505577)

You must be fucking kidding... That'll only earn him more (well-deserved) beatings.

Re:Role-playing games. (2, Insightful)

SlamMan (221834) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505580)

Wait. We're trying to foster social skills here. Knowing a rule book backwards and forwards did far more damage to my social skills than an sport I've ever played.

Just take him out in the sun and have him play ball with the rest of his age group.

Re:Role-playing games. (1)

Discopete (316823) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505623)

You were obviously playing the wrong game.

It's a Role-playing game not a Roll-playing game.

Games that are based more on the acting and roleplaying are how the game is supposed to be played.

Re:Role-playing games. (1)

SlamMan (221834) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505656)

Sorry, I was a DM. Comes with the territory.

But my point is more that he needs to learn how to socialize with real people, not just us geeks.

Re:Role-playing games. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8505597)

what are you? an idiot?

Re:Role-playing games. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8505608)

You THINK it did wonders for your social skills.

In reality, you talk too fast, as if in a hurry to get to the next round, ending every sentence with a whiny upward turn of the voice as if asking a question, and wrinkle your nose and show your teeth and bob your head instead of smiling.

Re:Role-playing games. (1)

irhtfp (581712) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505667)

This did wonders for my social skills.

Get him into dungeons and dragons. Find a group at a local shop or a campus club that will allow him to join as a newbie.

Most experienced DM's enjoy seeing new players grown and mature while learning and playing the game.

You know, I have a feeling you didn't write that intending to be funny... ...which is funny so I modded you Funny.

Last mod point so now I get to post too!

Funny that.

Re:Role-playing games. (1)

ZackSchil (560462) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505700)

Even after your mod points run out, you cannot participate in the discussion. Come on, it even told you this when you posted.

Social Skills (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8505536)

I think that people tend to either develop those skills on their own because they realize that they're not really fitting and they want to, or they never do and they have very few friends. I don't think they'd be very receptive, especially if they're teens.

how bout (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8505538)

Go outside.

-- paper

ummm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8505540)

you can teach him what to do in society...

Work = People (4, Interesting)

SillySnake (727102) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505543)

Get him a job dealing with people, and offer some sort of deal for him to get new tech toys to play with as a result. I was once much the same way but after working with people, and being able to reap the rewards, I am now a lot more functional in public than my peers. I've come so far as to hold a fairly decent sales job for my age and location, where I deal face to face with people constantly. Just like getting over your fears of anything else, confrontation is the easiest way to solve the problem. Granted, your student isn't AFRAID of social situations exactly, but I think more interaction would have the desired results.

Agent Nigan says: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8505544)

"He does fit the profile perfectly. He's intelligent, but an under-achiever; alienated from his parents; has few friends. Classic case for recruitment by the Soviets."

Incentive (1)

Phezult (729465) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505545)

There needs to be incentive. If it isn't worth his while, he won't bother. Also, for many, math and science are far more interesting and exciting than people. That's why we're on this page, isn't it?

Re:Incentive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8505561)

So you are saying he needs to be taken to a strip club and gotten totally wasted ?

Teach him about Asperger's Syndrome (5, Insightful)

TerryAtWork (598364) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505546)

I mean it. Tell him he might have to wind up running human emotions under emulation if necessary.

Not knowing what the hell is wrong with him will stress him a lot more than having something, anything, he can deal with.

Good luck with this.

Natural Geek Development (5, Funny)

Ayandia (630042) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505547)

There's the natural course of geek development and we should mess with it as little as possible.

New young geeks should have to wait for beer to develop social skills just like we did.

Obligatory Simpsons Quote (5, Funny)

dancingmad (128588) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505552)

Comic Book Guy : Someone has mixed an "Amazing Spiderman" in with the "Peter Parker - The Spectacular Spiderman" series. This will not stand.

Woman: Pardon me, but I wish to tender a serious cash offer for this stack of water damaged Little Lulus.

CBG: Huh, "A" that is not water, it is Diet Mr. Pib, and "B" I... (CBG turns to look at the woman) Ohh... Err... Tell me, how do you feel about 45 year old virgins who still live with their parents?

Woman: Comb the Sweet Tarts out of your beard and you're on.

CBG: Don't try to change me baby.

sho them my peep (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8505554)

LAN parties and such (3, Insightful)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505557)

of course. And the poster above is right about D&D or other role playing games. Heck, there were THOUSANDS of people to socialize with at GenCon!

Surely You're Joking (5, Informative)

evilad (87480) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505559)

Give the kid a copy of "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman."

He comes across as an arrogant bastard, but I sure did enjoy the chapter about the intellectual challenge presented by learning how to pick up chicks.

N.b.: Feynman's technique was probably valid in the 50s, and is definitely not useful now. The valuable part is getting this kid to treat "learning social skills" as an intellectual exercise.

I.e., what makes these stupid apes TICK?

Re:Surely You're Joking (4, Interesting)

AMystery (725537) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505691)

I haven't actually read Feynman yet, but he is on the list. However, I have to say that the intellectual approach is the wrong one if done exclusively, I tried it and all it does is lead to further ostrization. It finally resulted in me asking this girl if I could "study" her. No, you don't want to enable that type of humiliation.

Getting the kid involved in any social skill is better, intellectual observations tend to be solitary. Team sports are of course good, but as most geeks are completely ungifted there, something like the science olympiad or governors academies are great. I learned a lot from each, how to work in a group, made some good friends.

If you have it in your area, JETS (Junior Engineer Technical Society or something like that) is a wonderful competition. A group of people that work as a group to solve some hard engineering problems and think outside the box. Get 100 young geeks together in a large room, they compete, they break for lunch and massive studiest of the aerodynamic properties of paper, then some more competition. Wonderful memories.

Play to the geek skills of random knowledge and challenge, but avoid the solitary activities and also downplay the sex angle unless they bring it up, let him do what he wants, just give some direction and motivation.

Most of all, let the kid have fun!

What makes them Tick? (2, Funny)

Jareeedo (217038) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505698)

A pulse.

sexx (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8505564)

Get them some softcore porn, get them interested in the opposite sex. Then talk to them about sex, tell them your first time was when you were about their age, they'll realize that even their loser parents could get their grove on with a little help and they'll start to build social skills for the most important thing in life, getting ass.

Have him watch "Queer eye for the straight guy" (1)

slash-tard (689130) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505572)

Next take him to the strip club to show him whats hes missing, follow that up with a trip to your local trendy clothing store.

Finally sign him up for a sport like football, baseball, or soccer, and have him start lifting weights. The macho social interaction will do him good plus he will probably get laid. Once a nerd gets taste of a women he forgets about chess clubs and linux.

Re:Have him watch "Queer eye for the straight guy" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8505666)

... take him to the strip club to show him whats hes missing

what, drug fucked runaways who will suck cock for $2? nice way to turn a young-un OFF women. You'd be better buying him a copy of a glossy porno mag that has women who - while airbrushed and made up and everything - aren't hanging off a pole wanting you to throw $$$ at them, but do look stereotypically beautiful.

and naked.

Just an idea... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8505579)

Have him go and fix the other kids computers, so then they realise he's good for something while challenging him with day to day tasks. Sure he'll be being used, but atleast he'll get some interaction -- and he'll feel wanted! question... (3, Insightful)

gears5665 (699068) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505584)

Tell him he's just fine the way he is and that the rest of the students will be working for him in 15 years. Those of us on Slashdot with jobs realize that it's more important to be comfortable as yourself than meet someone else's perception of who we should be. In fact, it also works for dating...confidence in yourself is a bigger turn on than a flashy car, big wallet, or "social skills". So, leave the kid alone you schmuck...stop pushing your skewed world view on this poor impressionable youngster. question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8505678)

Yeah, I remember when everyone told me "Oh, they will be working for you in 15 years."

"They" are all in unions at the car plant making $50 an hour, and I am laid off from a major telecom company.

Thank god I DID take the time to get some social skills. question... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8505688)

Without adequate social skills and the ability to community ideas effectively, all the brainpower in the world will not help you.

Get him a girlfriend... (1)

Roger Keith Barrett (712843) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505588)

No... seriously... there are girls that find gifted guys a REAL TURN on. The best girls are able to look beyond such things... at least for a little while.

She'll say at first that she wouldn't want to change a thing... but she'll either change his ways (taste in clothes, hair, etc...) or he'll want to do it himself.

Try it out... it'll work!!

Asberger's Syndrome (5, Interesting)

squozebrain (742576) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505592)

I'm not a psychologist, but there is a lot of information on the web concerning Asberger's Syndrome, a social learning disability which often occurs in gifted children. See this site [] , for example:

Asbergers syndrome is a severe disorder typified by difficulties in social interaction, restricted interests, and unusual patterns of behavior. Like autism, boys are more likely to suffer from Asbergers syndrome than girls. Although the children often have well-developed verbal skills, they are severely lacking in social skills. Their ability to interpret social cues is impaired, as is their ability to empathize with others. Even though they can describe the emotions of others and the gists of conversations, they are unable to act upon this knowledge in an intuitive, spontaneous fashion. They often have clumsy, stiff body language, use inappropriate facial expressions, and may speak in a monotone. Some talk incessantly, but usually about a topic of interest only to themselves, so they bore the listener.

Although they may appear to be rude, this is a neurological disorder and not insensitivity. In fact, children with Asbergers are keenly aware of others around them, and become anxious in social settings. Because they tend to be "nerdy," these children often are subject to social rejection by their peers. This, in turn, frequently leads to anger, depression, and withdrawal, compounding the problem even more. Like their peers, children with Asbergers syndrome want to be accepted, but their disability makes this difficult. These children do well with logical, sequential thinking, so they tend to be successful academically and even have superior skills in an area of interest to them. However, holistic thinking is different; they often cannot deal with metaphors, puns, and creativity. Holistic thinking is required to be successful at reading social situations and responding appropriately.

Since the child with Asbergers syndrome primarily has problems with social skills, especially relating to peers as opposed to adults, the diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis are very different than for classical autism. Psychotherapy and treatment in a program for the emotionally disturbed tend not to be helpful. (In fact, one school of thought regards Asbergers syndrome as a nonverbal learning disability as opposed to a mild form of autism.) One therapy that has been effective is Computer Aided Emotional Restructuring (CAER), which greatly reduces the anger, anxiety, and depression brought on by the social rejection these children usually experience. As they become more relaxed in social settings, these children become free to learn to effectively read and respond to social cues, and social skills training becomes more successful.

Zero social skills (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8505595)

I had absolutely no social skills until way past high school and I'm still lacking in that area. What changed? Nothing really. I'm still very much as I was in high school except that in college I didn't have to associate with folks who mocked me for my haircuts or bullied me because they could (I was the smallest kid in high school until my senior year).

In college I found people with my interests (math, computers, English, guitar, rpgs, chess). This did more for my social life than anything else.

Hookers, lots of hookers (3, Funny)

sumac (714320) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505596)

Get him interested in the booty and he'll clean up his act...or become a mass murderer.

its easy (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8505603)

Step One: Comb Hair

Acting lessons (5, Interesting)

esnible (36716) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505604)

Acting lessons, especially improvisation (comedy or drama).

Acting teaches how to communicate intentions and how to show interest when listening.

Acting can also provide a second social network (with people just as interested in role playing as you, except without silly costumes), with few social interconnections to the tech social networks (so you get to be a social hub.)

Sports! (3, Insightful)

SlamMan (221834) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505605)

Have him play a team sport! Get him outside and away from the text books for a change.

A bit of advice... (5, Insightful)

dancingmad (128588) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505606)

Being a genius is one thing and it can get you ahead in life, but it's nothing if you can't deal with people (look at Jobs and the Woz, for example).

Even in modern programming, no one man can tackle enormous projects - we break things into functions and into parts and put them together.

Being ethnically different, "smart" (so said my K-12 schools, but college makes me doubt it), and by nature and culture alternately shy and arrogant, I've had to work to A) get to know people and B) work with them instead of going off on my own.

I say you give him group assignments where he has to work with other people (programming seperate functions in a larger program). Also, for kids, the great equalizer is video games - I've been playing Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles for a while and that game really emphasizes team work and people talking together.

Not much you can do for him... (4, Insightful)

DaveJay (133437) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505610)

...because ultimately it's up to him to do the learning. Unless he's asking you for help (which I doubt; this isn't an episode of "Saved by the bell") he's going to have to figure it out for himself, which includes him figuring out that there's something to figure out in the first place.

Ultimately, the motivator for him to learn social skills will be other kids interacting with him in a positive way, and you can't force that. What you CAN do, however, is get him in social situations where his brains will be considered an asset.

For instance, set up class lab activities that require teams of four, and make sure these activities require serious brains to complete. Sometimes, he should be in charge of picking people for his team; sometimes he shouldn't. Does this mean he might get chosen last? Sure, until a lazy and popular kid decides it's better to have this smart kid doing his work for him. Once your smart kid is selected by the popular kid, and they get an 'A' AND get done early because of it, he'll be considered an asset.

The flipside to that, of course, is that the other kids will initially be using him. The thing is, learing that you're being used and learning how to deal with it is as important a social skill as any other, so while it's painful in the short term it's beneficial in the long term.

Also, you'll be giving popular and lazy kids a reason to view him in a more positive light, which is a good lesson for them. :)

Outdoors Groups (2, Informative)

toxic666 (529648) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505611)

See if you can get him or her to join a group outdoors activity like camping. Not necessarily something as formal as scouting. In fact, the less formal, the better.

Nature offers some fun science and a chance to develop other areas of interest. Being a part of a camping group is a good way to learn to interact, because everyone has a responsibility (get water, collect wood, etc.) and kids learn their individual responsibilities contribute to the groups well-being. Good adult guidance is a must.

Worked great for the English as a Second Language class that joined my high school outings. And most of them came to the midwest from much warmer climes.

It's quite simple, really... (1)

rasafras (637995) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505613)

1. Talk to girls
2. Show off with some math.
3. ??? (chloroform?)
4. Profit!!!!

On a serious note, I think it's important to make sure they realize the value of relationships (of all kinds). I know people that have felt and I have certainly felt myself at times that the world is hopeless and friends aren't worth having, but the truth is, it's always a good thing. Whether you feel you may need help or not, it's always good to have somebody to turn to and sometimes you need a boost to get ahead in this world.
In summary, it's not always that they aren't able to interact socially, but that they don't feel the need to.

intelligence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8505616)

i dont care how many spoiled egotistical american brats you feel are right to raise, and army of team oriented indians,chinese,germans,koreans or japanese will always do better.

americans are impatient and mainly wrong in the way they act.

Ask these people (1)

3cents (741537) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505617)

Why don't you send a message to the people on the top of this list [] . Apparently everyone here loves 'em. :)

This will be my daughter in 10 years..... (0)

Sovern (631825) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505618)

She is so far ahead of children her age that she can't connect with them. If she withdraws, she will only find solitude but will never learn to interact.

Speaking from experience... (5, Insightful)

oldosadmin (759103) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505620)

The best way to build social skills is to get them involved in a group of people who actually -care- for them as a friend. The rest is easy.

(sad story, warning)
When I was a kid, I was the fat, alkward kid who nobody liked. I was never able to get over my alkwardness until I found a friend, Melissa (Mel) who accepted me as I was.

Most of the time, these "socially enept" people are only socially enept because society has turned them away.

If you want these people to be socially acceptable, try accepting them first.

Not that I'm cool or anything now, but I do have friends, people who I care about and care about me. Popularity isn't everything. Friendship is. Thank God for friends.

THC (2, Insightful)

H20 (9901) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505627)

Honestly, the best thing to do is wait until high school and then get the youngster into smoking pot. Nothing relieves tensions and motivates social interaction, especially among the gifted, like a good old fashioned bong hit.


An article, The Outsiders (1)

dsplat (73054) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505632)

There is an article , The Outsiders [] , that explores the social adjustment of extremely intelligent people. I'm not sure that it will provide the answers you're seeking, but it gives some insight into the nature of the problem.

Finite time, you can't. (2, Interesting)

Kris_J (10111) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505634)

"Gifted" people are often gifted because they focus their time on science and math rather than "social skills". However, since "social skills" appear to involve mocking people that are different to you, you're better off without them. Just teach the kid how to be polite, particularly teach them that they can be wrong and they're always best to ask why something is occuring before they try to change it.

Remember, if they were like everyone else they wouldn't be gifted.

Don't know if you can... (4, Insightful)

tekiegreg (674773) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505636)

Recalling from personal experience, I am by most definitions a dork and have been one since I picked up my first book in life.

As a general rule I was more inclined to read books than socialize granted that was all I knew. Everyone would want to talk about the latest fad or trend and I just simply was never interested. Whenever company was over, I'd just simply ignore all that and go to my room and read. I had few friends in my life, mostly those I could relate to. Aside from the occasional bully, I was happy socially.

However my stepmom couldn't stand that being a social giant. I was to relate to everyone and anyone. She would constantly drag me out of my room and try and get me to talk to people. I never did out of spite, mostly just clamming up or worse being nasty to anybody she tried, until I could get back to my book (and later computer games). I was not a pleasant conversationalist when forced like that. Therefore I question the value of corrective action against a socially dis-inclined person.

For what it's worth tho, I'd like to think I turned out normal. I'm the first of my brothers to get married (well in 2 weeks anyways). Generally people say I relate well to others. However you generally find me talking to people I can relate with intellectually rather than people who are more inclined to talk about the latest "survivor" episode or some other gunk (I didn't even watch the Super Bowl!). However I can BS my way through anything if needed, for exapmle a job interview or performance review, etc.

Your turn to rant!

two words (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8505642)

naked twister!

Queer Eye (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8505652)

Queer Eye for the Geeky Guy

Smile. It goes further than you think... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8505654)

I graduated from one of the top schools in Computer Science. Needless to say, the majority of students were male and it was "difficult" to find a girl. I was working as a 'Desk Attendant' (which meant that I checked IDs as people entered a dorm) and I realized that it was the PERFECT opportunity to meet women. Everytime a girl passed that I didn't know, I simply smiled. The next time I saw them, I smiled again. If I was feeling lucky, I engaged in conversation. Eventually, it led to completely random women coming up to me on campus saying something as simple as "Hi!". My friends were amazed. "How did you meet her?" they'd say.

The lesson is that social interaction doesn't require a major breakthrough. Slowly build up your confidence and you'll be amazed at the results which follow.

Leave him the Hell alone (2)

gunner800 (142959) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505655)

I doubt the idea of having social skills is new to him. He is who he is, and if you want him to be somebody else maybe you're the one who should change.

tech schools (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8505662)

send individual to tech [] schools [] ; we have LOTS of people that don't comb hair or talk.

i was the same way (1)

jjshoe (410772) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505673)

until a female showed intrest in me :) on went the deoderant and since i wasnt gonna comb the hair i lopped it off!

What about making them negioate? (1)

destro_99 (570923) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505675)

Kids are great at negotiating, how about a drill that makes them negotiate for something they want? I try and dupe my little cousins all the time to teach them not to get ripped off... and let me tell you, after a few times, they cried foul and got the point.

a job at McDonalds (1)

kiwi_damo (700538) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505676)

it'll do wonders for his social skills, manners and skin. Include an intellectual challenge such as hacking the deep fryer or creating a model of a protein from onion rings.

Empathy (5, Insightful)

FunWithHeadlines (644929) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505681)

I wouldn't classify myself as such a geek, but I sure hung around with those types in school and know the mindset very well. I was always the type who thought somewhat like a geek, but not all the way. I was fascinated by tech stuff, but it was not all-consuming for me. I enjoyed writing as much as I did programming, for example. So I served as a kind of bridge for my more geeky friends to the "normal" kids. I could get along in both crowds, and made friends easily among all types. (In fact, I usually would try to befriend the tough kids so as to have protection ).

What I saw missing from my geeky friend's social skill set was empathy. They knew they were different and smarter than the rest, and they liked being smarter. Made them cocky, and they looked down upon the rest. The more they were teased, the more they withdrew, and the more they looked down on their tormentors. So how does empathy help? Look, these are smart kids and they can be reasoned with that they are going to have to spend a lifetime among people not as smart as they are. There is no getting around that unless you become a near hermit. So wouldn't it be smart to try to see themselves as others see them?

Yeah, who cares if you comb your hair anyway? Aren't there more important things in life, and besides people shouldn't judge me by my outer appearance! True, all true. But you know what? They do and they will. So does it make a difference whether or not your hair is combed? If no one cares, no. If people do care, yeah, it causes hassles for you that can so easily be avoided by a 30-second brush with a comb. Not hard, appeases the ignorant. Comes in handy if you ever have a job interview (and you will want one someday, won't you?).

Empathy allows you to think through the other person's eyes. Yeah, they aren't as smart as you, but they can't fully help that (biology and all that) and yet they are still humans with as much right toward dignity and respect as you would want for yourself. Apperances and actions shouldn't matter in a perfect world where intellect was all that counted, but we don't live in that world. We do have to interact with people who judge us for all the wrong reasons. Isn't it smart to spend just a minimal amount of effort to smooth our way in life? If you are perceived as a jerk by others, no matter how invalid the reason may be, it will cause friction in your life.

The smart person sees that friction coming and heads it off with a few simple social tricks that fool the ignorant. It's great as a party trick too!

ok (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8505682)

"doesn't understand why they make fun of his uncombed hair"

Seems to me there's nothing to understand here. You comb your hair from now on. What's the problem? Or just clip it all off. Don't tell me that someone who doesn't care if his hair is uncombed is gonna care about having a buzz cut?
Get the kid off junk food, and eating fruits, vegetables, decent meals, (not decent *males*, mkay) and his brain will start working properly.

I found I was a pretty tough guy to get along with until I started noticing that different foods left me in different moods.

I used to be this kid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8505685)

What worked for me? 1)Get him to shave his head. That's one issue completely out the window.
2)Give him a copy of "Schrodinger's Cat" by Robert Anton Wilson. If he's unable to understand normal reasons for social mores, this gives him another explanation.
3)Punk music
4)An ecstasy addiction

Ok, number 4 prolly isn't a good idea in the long run, which is why I'm a dropout, but fuck me if it doesn't build social skills and confidence

Math Contests (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8505687)

Math contests such as the AMC10/12 are an excellent way for geeks to meet people with similar interests.

- Mike Nolan

He should try some of the HiQ societies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8505692)

There are some really good High IQ societies that maintain online forums, journals, mixers, etc. Several, especially the MegaGuild, have programs oriented toward gifted youths.

These groups include:

There are quite a few others out there, but I can vouch for the quality of these from personal experience.

Remember (1)

MagicDude (727944) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505693)

Don't mention the war.... With appologies to John Cleese In all seriousness, most colleges now have mandatory socialization and team building built into their carriculum for technical majors like engineering and computer science. My university makes you take specific courses in professional development so that you get the basics of team structure and motivation and what not. My brother at Carnagie Mellon says that for computer science majors to graduate, for their freshman year they have to accumulate a certain number of socialization points, which they earn for things like going to movies and even for showering.

Fight for what's right, or cave... (2, Interesting)

Visaris (553352) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505694)

While some social skills are required to work and live, try not to over teach these skills. While I realize that being able to sit down and BS with the boss at work may be helpful to yourself, I think it actually hurts the rest of us. Think about it. If no one had the "social skills" to suck up to management, they would have nothing else to base their impressions on except for work ethic, etc. Teaching a child that making fun of ones hair makes sense just supports the behavior. I don't know exactly how to explain what I'm getting at, but social skills are what create PHBs, politicians, etc. Please spare them this fate. It may be a misrable future, but at least it's one with morals, values, and right on one's side!

haircut (1)

jsilver212 (584955) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505695)

Give him a haircut.

Work out (1)

Gyorg_Lavode (520114) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505701)

Teach him to lift weights. It builds your body physically. Makes you more appealing to the other sex. Puts you in a social position to meet other people and builds confidence.

Age matters (2, Insightful)

Greatwhitepuma (725523) | more than 10 years ago | (#8505702)

How old is the student you are working with? Is he old enough to care about girls and the pleasures they offer, or would karate or some other martial art be more appropriate? Oh yeah, and how well do you think a buch of geeks would be able to answer the question in the first place. If we cared about how not to be a geek, we wouldn't be reading Slashdot.
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