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Where’s the ‘OFF’ Button? Helping Parents of Young Gifted Children

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Parenting young gifted children can be a challenge! This week we looked at the intensities these kids bring into the world around them. It’s often lamented that they do not fit into society’s notion of how children should act or react. Parents describe them as ‘more’ in every aspect of their lives and it can be exhausting for everyone involved. So … where is that ‘off’ button and do you really want to push it?

One of the first telltale signs of giftedness is a child’s extremely early proclivity to ask questions; a lot of questions. And not just simple questions. Oftentimes, asynchronous development leads to highly intuitive and complex questioning of practically everything. Parents quickly realize that the age-old argument of nature vs. nurture is a false dichotomy. The best way to foster their child’s giftedness is to nurture nature and provide them with an exceptional learning environment in which those questions can be answered; no matter how often or how many. As author Christine Fonseca tells us, “we must remind ourselves that they are curious; and that’s a good thing!”

 

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In their book BLOOM, authors Dr. Lynne Kenney and Wendy Young compare intense children to flowers in a garden. Consider the quote below from the introduction when thinking about your gifted child.

 

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The intensity experienced by young gifted children extends beyond their insatiable curiosity and unfortunately can affect their relationships with adults as well as age-peers. The fact that they are labeled as gifted cannot be an excuse for bad behavior. One of the most important lessons we need to teach our children is how to optimize interpersonal relationships in a way that benefits all involved.

To nurture the qualities necessary to succeed in relationships, adults should explore the concepts of empathy, high expectations, emotional intensity and social justice with the child. Discuss emotional intensity in a positive light. Don’t minimize the child’s feelings; respect them.

A characteristic such as bossiness is viewed as highly unfavorable; especially when directed towards teachers or other adults. Young children who are highly intelligent may not yet understand the nuance between being bossy and  qualities associated with leadership.  Gifted children often have a wide breadth of knowledge leading them to be criticized as a ‘know-it-all’. It’s important to guide them to know how to temper their approach to those around them. Gifted kids need to harness their abilities and learn to appreciate others’ viewpoints.

Navigating age-peer relationships with kids who don’t understand their intensity can be a source of angst for a gifted child. To nurture the qualities necessary to succeed in relationships, adults should explore the concepts of empathy, high expectations, emotional intensity and social justice with the child. Discuss emotional intensity in a positive light. Don’t minimize the child’s feelings; respect them.

Sleep is often a major concern for parents of gifted children. Some research suggests that gifted children need less sleep; but they still need sleep and so do their parents! As with most advice on parenting, it rarely works for gifted kids. It is usually a case of trial and error to find what works best for each child. And sometimes; nothing works. If and when it begins to affect everyday life … inability to complete school assignments, being habitually late to school, displaying inappropriate emotional responses … a parent may need to consult a professional who is familiar with giftedness for help. Otherwise, the risk of misdiagnosis can lead to inappropriate interventions.

Talk to your child about giftedness. Explore ways to co-exist in a world that doesn’t always appreciate being gifted. Emphasized to them that being gifted is not being better than someone else; it’s simply about being different.

It’s important to not assume that young gifted children understand the nature of giftedness. It’s more than just being smart. Talk to your child about giftedness. Explore ways to co-exist in a world that doesn’t always appreciate being gifted. Emphasized to them that being gifted is not being better than someone else; it’s simply about being different. It is experiencing life in a way that doesn’t always conform to social norms.

Does it ever get better? Is there light at the end of the tunnel? Gifted kids do grow up. They will probably continue to be intense, but they have the maturity to deal with it. Yes, it does get better. There is hope for a good night’s sleep. You may eventually even miss those early years! A transcript of this chat can be found at Storify.

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Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Tuesdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Wednesdays at Noon (12.00) NZST/10.00 AEST/1.00 UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Head Shot 2014-07-14  About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered        by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at  Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: gtchatmod@gmail.com

Links:

Giftedness & Emotional Intensity

Don’t Ride the Wave 

The “Up” Side to Being Intense

The “Up” Side to Being Intense (Part 2)

Tips for Working with Emotional Intensity

Dino Obsession: Intellectual Overexcitability In Action

Channeling Intensity Through Creative Expression

Living With Intensity (Amazon)

Gifted Children: Emotionally Immature or Emotionally Intense?

Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students (Amazon)

101 Success Secrets for Gifted Kids (Amazon)

If This is a Gift, Can I Send it Back? (Amazon)

BLOOM: 50 Things to Say, Think & Do with Anxious, Angry & Over-the-Top Kids

Tips to Help Your Gifted Child Fall Asleep

Sprite’s Site: Memory Elephant in Overdrive

Sprite’s Site: Talkfest

Sprite’s Site: Perchance to Dream

Sprite’s Site: Stories of the OEs

Cybraryman’s Dealing with Children Page

Cybraryman’s Sleep Page

Cybraryman’s Parenting Gifted Children Page

Strategies for Dealing with Overexcitabilities

Young Gifted Children

Laughing at Chaos Blog

Storynory (Free Audio Stories)

Living and Learning with Dabrowski’s Overexcitabilities OR “I Can’t Help It – I’m Overexcitable!” (pdf)

Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page: Young Gifted Children

Davidson Institute: FAQs about Extreme Intelligence in Very Young Children

Picture courtesy of Pixabay  CC0 Public Domain

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

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Guest: Dr. Lynne Kenney, Author of BLOOM

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Our guest this week was Dr. Lynne Kenney, a nationally recognized pediatric psychologist and author of BLOOM: 50 Things to Say Think and Do with Anxious Angry and Over-the-Top Kids. You can learn more about Dr. Kenney’s work at her website and Author’s Page at Amazon.

The basic Bloom Parenting Method is about building cognitive, social and behavioral skill sets instead of using consequences and punishment to manage behavior. A key feature of the Bloom Parenting Method is getting out ahead of a persistent challenge by empathizing with your child’s feelings and experience before the escalation evolves into an eruption. The success of your child’s ability to self-regulate later in life is related to their experience of clear, consistent and responsive mutual regulation in the early years. It’s an amazing, delicate dance that parents and children engage in. (BLOOM)

Mornings can be one of the most hectic and stressful times of the day for both our children and ourselves. As Dr. Kenney reminded us, “It’s easy to feel rushed, and twice-exceptional and over-excitable kids pick up on that. Involving the kids in planning the routines, exercise in the morning, and using mantras [found in BLOOM] to help us think more mindfully can all help.”

BLOOM Match feeling with behavior

Helping children deal with aggressive feelings and actions is important for the well-being of the child and the entire family. Lynne suggested, “Tying the feeling to their actions helps, “You were mad, so you hit.” Humor and silliness help with some kids. When my kids are angry and I don’t take it personally, things go better.” We cannot punish children out of undesirable behavior. We must teach them into more pro-social behavior. (BLOOM)

What are some ways to help a little ‘mover’ slow down, calm down and be more successful at home and school? A healthy diet and exercise is the first step. According to Dr. Kenney, “Sometimes, we have to be thinking one step ahead, “What is my child needing next?” It is interesting that sometimes we want kids to join our pace, but we are best joining theirs; then re-pacing.” Children learn how to solve problems through play. Ten to fifteen minutes of floorplay each day can make a world of difference. (BLOOM)

Neurotransmitters are largely responsible for behavior, attitude and energy. What factors influence neurotransmitter function in the brain and why is this important? When we are slow to get going, distracted or resistant; it’s often NOT simply a behavioral choice, it’s biochemical. (BLOOM) Leticia of Academia Oportunidad explained, “Neurotransmitter function is influenced by food (sodium, calcium, potassium, etc.), exercise, mood and environmental conditions.” Lynne pointed out, “Before we medicate kids, we need to feed them whole food without pesticides; that matters a lot.”

We then turned our attention to why kids don’t just behave at school and what can be done to intervene in such behaviors. “In BLOOM, we have about 200 reasons why kids misbehave,” Lynne told us. Many reasons were given by chat participants such as boredom, lack of challenge, pressure to conform to rigid classroom standards, or a poor fit between the child and teacher. Classroom tips from the book can be seen below.

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Finally we looked at how trauma affects a child’s brain and how can adults ease the effects of trauma. Dr. Kenney said, “Trauma comes is so many forms now [that] we have a chapter on it in Bloom. Dr. Gail Post of Gifted Challenges added, “Sadly, trauma is often overlooked, minimized by adults who feel too overwhelmed, guilty, etc. to address the child’s needs.” A transcript of this chat can be found at Storify.

Congratulations to our winners of an electronic version of BLOOM (compliments of Dr. Kenney): Care M. @NaturallyCare, Yomaida England @Englandk_1, and Leticia @Academia Oportunidad.

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Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented and sponsored by GiftedandTalented.com is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Fridays at 7E/6C/5M/4P in the U.S., Midnight in the UK and Saturdays 11 AM NZST/9 AM AEST to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Head Shot 2014-07-14  About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered    by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at  Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: gtchatmod@gmail.com

Links:

Brain Insights

The Coffee Klatch

Zero to Three

Relax Kids

National Association for the Education of Young Children

Building Moral Intelligence (Amazon)

Cool Down & Work through Anger (Amazon)

Hands Are Not for Hitting (Amazon)

Parenting Made Easy: How to Raise Happy Children

Kidlutions (Intense/Angry Kids)

A Moving Child is A Learning Child (Amazon)

Stress Free Kids (Amazon)

The Center for Trauma and Loss: Parent Resources

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network

Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise & the Brain (Amazon)

Smart but Scattered: Revolutionary ‘Executive Skills’ Approach to Helping Kids Reach Their Potential (Amazon)

The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding & Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children (Amazon)

Raising a Sensory Smart Child: Definitive Handbook for Helping Child w/Sensory Processing Issues (Amazon)

The Dyslexic Advantage: Unlocking the Hidden Potential of the Dyslexic Brain (Amazon)

Misdiagnosis & Dual Diagnosis of Gifted Children & Adults

Relaxation: Free MP3 downloads from Dartmouth University

Brave: Be Ready & Victory’s Easy, a Story About Social Anxiety (Amazon)

If I Have to Tell You One More Time: The Revolutionary Program That Gets Your Kids To Listen Without Nagging, Reminding, or Yelling (Amazon)

Lynn’s Blog

Increasing Communication Collaboration and Cooperation (Slideshare) and audio

Are You Unintentionally Bullying Your Child?

Still Quiet Place Recommended Readings and CDs

BLOOM Teacher Tips

3 Easy Steps to Enhance Your Brain on Vacation

Kids Eat Clean Printable

Cybraryman’s Communicating with Children Page

Family Resources

Note to Educators: Hope Required When Growing Roses in Concrete (pdf)

BLOOM videos

Understanding the Effects of Maltreatment on Brain Development (pdf)

 

Special Guest: Dr. Lynne Kenney, author of BLOOM

Global #gtchat welcomed Dr. Lynne Kenney to our chat to discuss her new book, BLOOM. The book is available in digital form on Dr. Kenney’s website (see link below) as well as at Amazon for the Kindle. Much of the information in the book is relevant for parents of gifted and twice-exceptional children. One lucky chat participant won a copy of BLOOM during the chat! A full transcript can be found here.

The first question to be considered was how parents can move from a punishment-reward paradigm to a more positive type of parenting.  Dr. Lynne explained that focusing on the connection between desired behaviors and attachment is key with gifted kids. She also stated that we need to think beyond rewards and into relationships building, collaboration and thinking skills. The moderator noted that if reward-punishment systems worked, we wouldn’t be seeing the increase of poor behavior in kids that we do today.

Other issues discussed included the importance of having an organized home for the atypical child, how parents can help children to build communication skills, and how to stop ‘setting off’ our children with the ‘tell, don’t yell’ strategy. Please check out the links below.

Links:

BLOOM at Dr. Kenney’s website – Full graphical version & stream-lined graphics version

BLOOM Kindle Edition (Amazon)

Co-author, Wendy Young’s website Kidlutions

DrLynneKenney on Blog Talk Radio from TheCoffeeKlatch

Play Math from @DrLynneKenney

The Family Coach Method (Amazon) from @DrLynneKenney

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