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When DD was younger, I would have said “no”-she was just fine with a range of friends, none of whom were her age. By about age 11,the need for same-age friends, as well as peers, got stronger, and right now, at 13, having those same-age friends is extremely important, even if they are not on a similar level academically. I imagine that will fade as she gets older and developmental differences are less intense. 

 

So, short answer-“it depends”.

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8 minutes ago, dmmetler said:

When DD was younger, I would have said “no”-she was just fine with a range of friends, none of whom were her age. By about age 11,the need for same-age friends, as well as peers, got stronger, and right now, at 13, having those same-age friends is extremely important, even if they are not on a similar level academically. I imagine that will fade as she gets older and developmental differences are less intense. 

 

So, short answer-“it depends”.

Thanks for your response.

Is the need coming from her? Why do you think it's so important to her? And how does she connect with age-peers? What do they do together?

Thanks heaps for sharing. This is something I'm just trying to get my head around at the moment and I really value the input and experiences of you wise folks.

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It seemed to coincide with the start of puberty-yhat she needed someone who understood the physical and emotional changes she was dealing with. Most of her friends at that point where enough older than she was that things that were new for her were no big deal for them, or they were younger and weren’t to that point yet. We handled that by starting to do Summer programs and things like that where she had age-peers, which gave her some people who text with her who don’t think it’s weird that she’s in college or going to conferences. She also hangs out at the cheer gym a lot between practices and gets to spend time with girls her age there, and has made a few friendships. They aren’t talking about the same things she talks to her graduate and adult Herpetology friends with, and it hasn’t changed her relationships with the range of kids in our homeschool group. It just adds a few more friends who she can complain about menstrual cramps and annoying teachers with :). They seem to spend a lot of time sending pages of emoji’s and drawings and photos back and forth, too. 

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I say yes.  As it turned out my ds had only older friends.  I tried to get him connected with friends his age, but couldn't.  It was mostly fine, but the two friends had/have strong personalities and I think he was so used to letting them call the shots when they were younger that it was hard to change the dynamics as teens and it caused some stress and tension.

Dd gravitates to older friends(like a lot older--her brother's older friends), but she is more herself and happier when she has friends her own age.  This didn't matter until the teens.  When she was in the midst of wanting to just be with much older friends, she discovered her closest online friends were her exact age.  I think this shocked her. After that, I definitely saw a change in her putting effort into develolping friends with her age-mates.

So, yes, in the end, I think kids need friends who are developmentally on their own level. Ideally, they have some older and younger friends (or siblings), too, so they can explore those dynamics. (I am not saying they should ONLY have friends their own age,at all.  I am also aware that we can't always control friendships.)

 

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I would echo what dmmetler said above, except for us it’s our oldest DS14.  DS has several different groups of friends or schoolmates or teammates.  He floats between the various groups.  His schoolmates/mathgeeks/robotics kids are mostly older, his sport teammates or buds are mostly his age...a couple years ago he was spending more time with his “schoolmates”...now it’s about even as the teen year begin/progress and all that comes with it are upon us...any co-ed gathering are with the kids his age...as that group is going thru their teen years (and drama) at the same time.  I believe he needs both and knows it.  Any extended time with one (either academic or age) and he will miss that connection. It’s been a lot of intentional effort to insure he has access to both groups.   

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Yes, peer friendships are important to both of my 11yo daughters.  They are at a stage where the way of thinking is getting weird to people of other ages - stuff only a middle-schooler would relate to.  They also like to have someone to share secrets / grievances with as they do the developmentally appropriate work of pulling away from their folks.  And just learning to get along with all kinds of people is important IMO.

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Thanks for your thoughts, folks. 

I find it quite interesting that several of you mention that your child is more comfortable or more themself when with age-peers, or that age-peers are who they can relate to.

We just haven't had this experience yet. I'm wondering if it's maybe just around the corner? My daughter has just turned 12. 

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DD never had friends her own age for most of her childhood, except for two years when she was friends with a girl. She always preferred older friends. As a preteen, she made friends at her riding stable with college students. She found her real soul-mate-best-friends when she took DE courses at the university; at age 15, her two closest friends were college seniors.

Some kids do not have much in common with same age peers.

 

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I think it is extremely important for kids above age 8 to have people they can relate to, and age may irrelevant for some but very relevant for others.  Also, there’s a difference between say having a friend 4 years younger than for which you take on a maternal/paternal dynamic, or having a friend 15 years your senior with whom you can discuss certain things, and a friend you can relate to in a broad way.  For gifted, and especially 2e, kids true friends are difficult to find.

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For DD, it helped when we started spending time every summer in Reno, where she got to meet kids she knew from online classes in person. Once she knew she could talk to kids her age, she became more comfortable with finding common ground with kids who perhaps did not share the same academic levels, but were peers in other ways. 

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It was after 12 that this became evident for my dd. Late teenagers are in a different place emotionally than 13 year olds and she was trying hard to keep up. When she made friends her own age, I could see her relax. For awhile she would have told you she felt closer to the older kids (and in some areas maturity wise she was-- she is very bright and has extraordinary executive functioning skills). But she was still emotionally young. And the "power" dynamic was off. She was always the one looking for favor--keeping up as it were. She still has these friends, but it has been so important in her teens to have friends her own age as well. 

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11 hours ago, dmmetler said:

For DD, it helped when we started spending time every summer in Reno, where she got to meet kids she knew from online classes in person. Once she knew she could talk to kids her age, she became more comfortable with finding common ground with kids who perhaps did not share the same academic levels, but were peers in other ways. 

This is a good point.

My daughter hasn't experienced an age-peer that she can really talk to yet. She instead gravitates to the adults and chats with them. 

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On 4/6/2018 at 1:54 PM, chocolate-chip chooky said:

Can you all share your thoughts on this?

Do you think it's important for our kids to have friends their own age?

And if so, why?

 

Yes.  On the one hand, I think having a range of friends/ages is a good thing (mine has friends younger and older and adult).  But recently I ran into a situation where my son who is 14 was invited over to watch movies with some 16-18 year olds he knows through an non-school activity (where he is the youngest in his group), and they were choosing to watch a rated R movie.   We declined, but it was a definite freak-out moment for me.  I realized how lucky we are that most of his friends are

a) closer to his age

b) primarily want to play board games when they're together

c) have parents who I feel comfortable will keep the situation age-appropriate.

I think that he has a healthy social life, so declining was his choice and he didn't mind at all, but I also think that if he didn't have a healthy social life, he might have felt bad about not going.

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On 6/4/2018 at 10:54 PM, chocolate-chip chooky said:

Can you all share your thoughts on this?

Do you think it's important for our kids to have friends their own age?

And if so, why?

 

No.

People need friends, though.

Maybe when dd is in college she will find some age related friends.

 

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On 4/8/2018 at 7:23 PM, chocolate-chip chooky said:

My daughter hasn't experienced an age-peer that she can really talk to yet. She instead gravitates to the adults and chats with them. 

This was my DD for most of her childhood/teen years. She only found like minded same age peers once she was in college.

I think the emphasis on same age is very overrated; just because kids are of same age does not mean they have anything in common.

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My oldest son (nearly 14) has friends his own age, as well as older friends in their late teens/early twenties. I don't think that every child needs to have same-aged friends, but the friendships my son has with other kids are important to him and have been since he was 8 or 9. He is goofy, extroverted, competitive, and has a high level of energy that only seems to be matched by other boys his age. His closest friend is only one year older, and I love that they have the experience of growing up together. 

My 9-year-old is quirkier and more introverted. He gets along well with girls of all ages, but his only close friend is his slightly older cousin. 

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For my DD, she has always been very social, but didn't have super close peer friends until middle school.  She preferred adults and older kids.  In 6th she moved to a school with many kids who were both age & academic peers.  Its been a very positive experience, that I only really appreciated in hindsight.  Now she has friends in a wide range of ages, and a wide range of academic abilities.

My DS has always had good friends his own age, and they have always found common interests.  That said, he has been gravitating towards friendships with math/academic peers in the last 2 years.  He still has his old friends, but needs this "special-interest" group now.

I think each kid is so unique, it really just depends whether they need similar aged friends.  But I do think there is value in ensuring gifted kids have access (online, camp, etc.) to other kids with similar age & ability, if possible, even if they don't become BFF's. 

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Close same age friends would be a No. Friends would be a Yes. 

DS13 does need similar age friends once he started his growth spurt. He likes having friends whom he can chat about teen fashion, food, movies and basically non-academic stuff. He is talking about wanting to gel his hair to make it neater and wanting me to look out for suitable daily use kind of hair gel. He gets his teen friends in Saturday german class as they have kind of grown up together over the years. It’s his 6th year there.

DS12 has always had a higher social need than DS13 and he has always prefer friends his age because he is small size for his age. So older peers would just make him feel even worse about his height unless they are also small for age. He is also not into academic discussions as a need compared to DS13 so age peers is more important than academic peers to him. His choice of an ideal college is one he can semi-cruise through.

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My kiddo is not in a place where I think he needs friends his own age although he has some... but reading "Hold Onto Your Kids" book has been interesting. Not done, so I can't give a review, but it has made me think a lot more about our cultural focus on same aged peers and how that can be a real negative. 

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For my daughter, yes. She has friends of a range of ages, but it’s been important to her to have friends within a year or two of her age. When she was a bit younger (5yo?), I talked with her about how this desire/need meant that she may have to learn how to categorize - the friends she had from gymnastics were likely to have great fun running around on a playground with her but were unlikely to discuss books and math with her, for example. Once it was pointed out to her, she was able to sort through this well and it made things easier on her.

We had lived in a relatively small town, and she had no same-age friends who were intellectual peers.  We’ve since moved to an area where it’s been easier for her to find friends who are similar to her in age and also gifted. She continues to have friends in a range of ages and also a range of intellectual abilities.

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I did think it was important but I am not so sure now.

My dd(15) often says people her own age do not have the same interests or worries she has (usually when I am suggesting or asking if she'd like to hang out with people her own age). She has one friend who is a year older who she sees rather regularly (though not as often now that we've moved) and a couple people who are 3-4 years older who she communicated with mostly online (people she's met through her music who live too far away to see often but who she sees when we travel near them). She tends to take on the "mom"/voice of reason role when with groups of kids around her age to 3-4 years older than her. Dd is well-adjusted, mature, social, and she gets along with everyone but she rarely feels people her own age have a lot in common with her or really "get" her. 

Most of the people she talks to, hangs out with, and feels are on her "wavelength" are very much older than she is...though often I think those people think of her as older than she is. This worries me when I consider her beginning to be of an age where she might wish to date. I guess we'll just have to see what happens with that when it begins. 

 

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