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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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The Strong-Willed Gifted Child

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Strong-willed gifted children can appear oppositional and fail to respond to traditional behavior interventions. They are characterized as uncooperative, stubborn, defiant, rebellious and arrogant. They can also be thought of as passionate, idealistic, and emotionally intense. Due to asynchronous development, gifted children may have a deep understanding of a problem but lack ability to deal with it.

A gifted child’s behavior is often misunderstood and misdiagnosed by professionals. Many characteristics of giftedness may appear similar to mental health and few professionals have training in gifted issues. Misdiagnosis can lead to inappropriate and ineffectual treatments which make matters worse.

Traditional behavior strategies don’t work because the underlying causes for the behavior are atypical for their age. A gifted child’s refusal to comply is often the result of deeply held yet inconsistent beliefs and feelings of injustice.

What info could be shared with teachers to help them understand this behavior as it relates to giftedness? Few teachers have a background in gifted education; basic information is a good place to start. Teachers need to know that gifted students don’t always know what they are good at; guidance may be needed to direct students to a place of understanding.

Scaffolding, a technique used in teaching, can be applied to helping gifted children deal with their emotions. It is a way to provide positive, but temporary support to a child during an emotional impasse; and can foster emotional growth as it leads to a positive, non-argumentative resolution of behavior issues. Scaffolding with gifted children promotes self-esteem and self-efficacy with long-term impact on reducing negative behavior. (Malonai 2016)

What positive steps can parents & teachers take to help strong-willed gifted children thrive? Parents can help their child discover who they are, their strengths by providing opportunities for recognizing personal strengths. Teachers can encourage students to follow their passions through school activities that challenge and validate them. Both parents & teachers need to provide positive supports before issues arise; celebrate good behavior when demonstrated. A transcript of this chat can be found at Storify.

 

gtchat-logo-new bannner

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:

7 Ways to Help Your Strong-Willed Gifted Child Thrive

5 Discipline Tips for When Time-Outs Don’t Work

Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnosis of Gifted Children

Gifted Children: Mood Issues with Gifted Child

Helping Gifted Children Soar: A Practical Guide for Parents and Teachers (Amazon)

Living With Intensity: Understanding Sensitivity, Excitability, Emotional Development of Gifted Children (Amazon)

The Strong Willed Child, Limit Testing & Why Giftedness Matters

Are Strong-Willed Children Gifted?

Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students: Helping Kids Cope with Explosive Feelings (Amazon)

Parenting Gifted Kids: Tips for Raising Happy & Successful Gifted Children (Amazon)

Emotional Regulation and the Gifted Child 

Laughing at Chaos: Real Life Scaffolding 

Sprite’s Site: Columbus Cheetah, Myth Buster

 

Photo courtesy morgueFile  CC BY 2.0   Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

 

Meeting the Needs of the Gifted Family

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Meeting the needs of the gifted family is much more difficult than most people realize. This week at #gtchat, we discussed the many issues faced by the gifted family and strategies for meeting their needs.

Our first question drew immediate responses from participants: What do you wish people outside your family understood about life inside a gifted family?

“Life is complicated inside a gifted family. Gifted kids often have intense reactions to events that upset the family equilibrium; divorce, death, loss of pet.” Lisa Conrad, Moderator

“We don’t sit around solving Fermat’s Last Theorem at dinner (most nights).” Lisa Van Gemert, #gtchat Advisory Board

“A G2e (gifted with twice-exceptional) family isn’t what the media shows; far more nuanced than that. It ain’t all sunshine and roses, and it is HARD with all the intensities/sensitivities bouncing off each other.” Jen Merrill of Laughing at Chaos

“Life in a gifted family is challenging, complex, exhilarating and indescribable. Seamless serenity when in flow. Chaos when not.” Marianne Kuzujanakis, SENG PAC, Pediatrician, Homeschooler

There was also a sense of perspective in many of the comments. Darian of GiftedandTalented.com reminded us that, “A bright 8 year-old is still an 8 year-old …”. Carol Bainbridge, Gifted Kids Guide at About.com, added, “When you’ve met one gifted child, you’ve met one gifted child.” Leslie Graves, president of the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children, told us, “I’m one of 6 gifted and talented children, a number of 2E issues in the mix too; each was uniquely different from the next..my brave Mom!”

Next we considered how families can cope when multiple members display over-excitabilities. Parents need to recognize overexcitabilities in themselves first and then understand them in their children; and be aware that gifted children experience different intensities than age-peers and often earlier than expected. High intelligence creates asynchrony of unusually mature understanding coupled with limited experience. (Robinson) It’s important to talk to young children about their fears and anxieties; treat them with respect and acknowledge their concerns.

How do you respond to sibling rivalry among gifted kids? Parents can draw from experiences of dealing with their own siblings, co-workers, or teammates to deal with sibling rivalry in their children. They can use life experiences to navigate the sometimes bumpy road of “differently gifted” family members. (Isaacs-McLeod)

The discussion turned to discipline and whether it’s any different in a gifted family. Traditional discipline, popular discipline, innovative discipline; all usually fail. It is better to understand the behavior. Depth of knowledge, insightfulness, and the ability to express divergent views on an adult level can make discipline difficult. You should consider the underlying reasons for behaviors rather than the specific behaviors when contemplating discipline. (Caplan)

Where can families turn for enrichment if schools fail to provide appropriate gifted education? Gifted education comes in many forms; online instruction is a good fit for many gifted kids who thrive on stetting own pace. Enrichment can mean providing opportunities for new experiences outside the classroom – nature, museums, makerspaces. Check out the resources in the links below! A transcript of this chat  can be found on Storify.

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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:

Developing Your Child’s Habits of Success in School, Life & Work (pdf) Costa

Siblings, Giftedness, & Disparities – Oh My!

When Your Child Goes Overboard: Fears & Compassionate Concerns

Keeping the Family Balance

Your Learning Path: A Framework for Creating & Considering Learning Environments

With Thing One & Thing Two, Thing Three Must Make Do!

How to Identify & Cope w/OEs, Part 1/5: Emotional Overexcitability

Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students: Helping Kids Cope w/Explosive Feelings (Amazon)

Dabrowski’s Overexcitabilities or Supersensitivities in Gifted Children

Social and Emotional Problems Affecting Gifted Children

Intensities in the Classroom

Getting Over Overexcitabilities: Effectively Managing Family Interactions when Family Members Have Different Overexcitabilities

Sprite’s Site: Beginning the Journey: Gifted 101

Calvin: The Unexpected Gifted Kid

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

Tips for Parents: How Gifted Children Impact the Family

Sprite’s Site: Survivor – Gifted Island

Cybraryman’s Summer Page

On Giftedness and 2E or being ‘Twice Exceptional’

What To Do When Your Kid Is Smarter Than You (Amazon)

How (Not) to Argue with Gifted Children

 

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

The Intensity of Giftedness with Guest, Dr. Lynette Breedlove

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Lynette Breedlove, Ph.D.

Dr.Lynette Breedlove, Director of The Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science and Past President of TAGT, joined us this week to discuss the Intensity of Giftedness. Lynette will be conducting two Pre-Conference Sessions as well as presenting at this year’s TAGT Annual Conference in Fort Worth, Texas in December.

It was immediately apparent when asked what intensity looked like in gifted children that most participants at this chat had extensive experience identifying intensity. It was also noted that asynchronous development played an important role in shaping gifted children’s personalities. Dr. Breedlove explained, “When you are more sensitive and aware than others, you pick up on even slight differences in yourself and others. Most children are concerned about being different and intensity makes it a bigger deal to the child. The interplay between intensity and asynchrony makes things very complicated for students.”

A gifted child’s strong affective memory can cause problems in the school environment. Memories can seem so real that the child may feel they’re re-living painful past experiences; sometimes over and over again. Teachers, counselors, administrators should learn about and understand these intense feelings; not try to minimize them. Lynette reminded us, “Students can have emotional reactions that seem unrelated to what’s happening in the classroom at the moment – tied to a previous experience. You can’t rely on students forgetting something to help them move on or get over it. It is extremely important that parents, teachers, and counselors LISTEN and HONOR the students’ feelings.”

The remainder of the chat centered on how parents and educators can work with gifted children to minimize negative experiences and redirect behavior toward positive outcomes. A full transcript may be found here.

 

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Fridays at 7/6 C & 4 PT in the U.S., midnight in the UK and Saturdays 1 PM NZ/11 AM AEDT 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 Pageprovides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community.

Head Shot 2014-07-14About 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:

Excitabilities and Gifted People (YouTube 7:54)

Emotional Intensity in Gifted Children by Leslie Sword at SENG

Intense Behaviors of the Gifted: Possible Roadblocks to Academic Achievement

Breathing in I Calm My Body: Intensities in the Gifted from the Institute for Educational Advancement

Tips for Working with Emotional Intensity by Christine Fonseca

Emotional Intensity

Emotional Sensitivities and Intensities of Gifted Children (pdf)

Gifted Intensities: Liability or Asset? (pdf) by Lori Comallie-Caplan

Intensity & the Highly Gifted & Highly Sensitive Person

Living with Intensity by Dr. Susan Daniels and Dr. Michael Piechowski

Being an Emotional Coach to Gifted Children (SlideShare) by Christine Fonseca via @Giftedkidsie

Channeling Intensity Through Creative Expression by Douglas Eby

Intensity+Sensitivity+Overprotection=Social Emotional Disaster  from Duke TIP

Lynette’s Breedlove’s Bio

Intensity in Gifted Children (YouTube 16:39)

“Is There a Dimmer Switch for the Memory Elephant?” from Sprite’s Site by Jo Freitag

Cybraryman’s Asynchronous Development Page

Intense Like Me by Jennifer Marten

GT Kids and Behavior: Seven Strategies to Help Kids (and Parents) Cope by Christine Fonseca for SENG Gifted

Gifted: Overexcitabilities and Asynchronicities by Amy Harrington

Cybraryman’s Yoga Page

 

 

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