Gifted Sibling Rivalry and Bullying: Part 1

Deborah Ruf, PhD
7 min readJun 11, 2024

Within-family Bullying or Teasing Has Predictable Outcomes

The most prominent finding on this topic from The 5 Levels of Gifted Children Grown Up 2023 longitudinal study is that the younger gifted children in the family who are teased, bullied, or looking for love and respect from their older gifted siblings (but who don’t get much of it) suffer depression, anxiety, and insecurity in their familial relationships.

Overview for the Gifted Sibling Rivalry and Bullying Series

This post addresses whether or not the subjects were bullied by a sibling or were themselves the bullies within their family. Often a parent sets the stage for verbal teasing or abuse, too, but subjects were not specifically asked about their parents’ overall treatment of them. (1) Subject responses are from the research interview question “Was there any rivalry or bullying between you and another sibling?” Subjects were also asked questions about how the now-adult gifted subjects saw their social skills when they were younger and their self-concept and self-esteem now as adults. Many people already mentioned some forms of bullying in their earlier answers. We see a pattern here in some subjects who have anxiety and depression in their adult lives that may be related to sibling interactions that were abusive.

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Deborah Ruf, PhD

High Intelligence Specialist & Writer, Dr. Ruf writes about highly intelligent people from birth to very old age. www.fivelevelsofgifted.com