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The Gifted Family – Transforming Chaos into Calm

When I asked Jen Merrill, author of If This is a Gift, Can I Send it Back? and the popular Jen Merrill Head Shotblog Laughing at Chaos, to co-moderate this chat; she seemed to think that we might be attempting to discuss the impossible. Her exact words were “And then we’ll be discussing the Loch Ness Monster and Sasquatch!”


If you’ve raised gifted kids, family life can often seem chaotic and not just because of the kids! The parents’ intensity plays a greater role than many of us like to admit. The term ‘multiple personalities’ takes on a whole new meaning when applied to the members of a gifted family. Attempting to bring calm to a world of chaos when you aren’t sure who is in charge can prove difficult.

Undaunted … we went ahead with the chat and were pleasantly surprised not only to see many new faces, but several folks we had not seen in years. It seems that chaos rules in many households where ‘apples haven’t fallen far from the tree’ and now reside under one roof! And participants had a lot to say … nearly 600 tweets in one hour … about a tweet every 6 seconds! A list of the questions posed at this week’s chat may be found here. A full transcript is at Storify.

Our first question addressed the issue of how asynchrony, when developmental levels of gifted children collide, affects family life in terms of sibling relationships and extended family. One of the first responses, “How does it NOT affect all of life?” from Mona Chicks, set the tone for most of the chat.

Life is indeed chaotic in the gifted family and most participants agreed, ‘calm’ is a refuge rarely achieved. As Jen noted, “It’s hard to plan when you don’t know what age/behavior will appear. Extended family may only see one ‘age’ or only see the kid outside his comfort zone. I think asynchrony causes the most pain with extended family that doesn’t ‘get it.’ Sometimes [you get] judgement when you most need acceptance.” Amy Harrington added, “Asynchrony is pervasive with no off switch. It is all consuming and mixed in with Overexcitabilities [OEs] can be entirely overwhelming at times.

We next considered, “What strategies can parents use to calm their own emotional intensities while dealing with their child’s OEs?” Pamela Price of Red, White and Grew, recommended that “Honestly? They need to IDENTIFY their own intensities and seek separate support for them, including their own counselor.” Angie French from TeachaGiftedKid added, “You must take care of yourself so you can be the best caretaker of the ones you love.” Susanne Thomas, new Online Education Director at Gifted Homeschoolers Forum, had some sage advice for the group, “Finding your tribe. Hands down. Anyone that ‘gets’ it even in concept needs to be cultivated and cherished.

Additional questions included dealt with:

  • the added pressures that parents face as mediators for their child when behaviors don’t match cultural norms
  • how discrepancies in a child’d development affect educational options
  • what effect gifted parenting has on marital relationships and increased financial burdens due to such things as homeschooling and/or early college entrance

Our final question of the chat was meant to allow participants to express some of the unexpected joys they had experienced with their gifted child. Jen shared a recent newspaper article, Moving Picture: Libertyville Computer Whiz Has Big Plans, about her son and his intense interest in computers. Comments shared were truly inspiring!

  • It’s that moment when someone who had low expectations figures it out and is in AWE of his ability. Seeing the connections happen in his brain. Amazing!” Mona Chicks
  • I get to school him here, and help him make connections, and watch his face light!!” Care M. 
  • Knowing that if there’s more spirited, divergent and creative thinkers out there like her, humanity might have a hope!” Celeste of Oz
  • Saying ‘my kid can code in 4 languages!'” Susanne Thomas
  • An off the wall sense of humour. Watching them think – the brilliant leaps from go to OMG where did that come from???” Gluten – Free Mum
  • His humor and original jokes! Oh, the jokes he spontaneously makes up!” Celi Trépanier
  • Beyond joy about rediscovering his “old”, happier self. Proud of us for stepping up to plate as parents. Flip side of public judgment–enormous appreciation 4 strangers who genuinely like your kid.” tedra 
  • Constantly impressed with their insight, creativity, kindness, seeing new patterns.” Justin Schwamm 

Have you found your tribe? People who ‘get’ giftedness and how it affects your life? Consider joining us at Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented on Twitter and find your tribe! Each week we discuss timely topics related to gifted children, adults and education. Questions are posted the day before and an edited transcript is posted after each chat.

gtchat thumbnail logoGlobal #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 byTAGT 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:



Life in the Asynchronous Family” by Kathi Kearney

Off the Charts: Asynchrony and the Gifted Child” Neville, Piechowski & Tolan, eds.

Off-the-charts cover

Educating Exceptional Children Chap. 10 Exceptional Gifts & Talents” (Excerpt – Google Books)

A Review of Research on Parents & Families of Gifted Children” (1983)

How Gifted Children Impact the Family

Parenting Strategies for Parents of Gifted Children

Family Counseling with the Gifted” Linda Silverman” (pdf)

Parenting a Gifted Child: Lessons from the Andrakas” (video)

An Interview with Therapist for the Gifted Family, Mika Gustavson” by Suki Wessling

The Burden of Raising a Gifted Kid

A Year of Small Gratitudes” from Jen Merrill

Serving Highly & Profoundly Gifted Learners”  (pdf) in the Gifted Education Communicator Winter 2009

Growing Up Gifted: Developing the Potential of Children at School and at Home (Amazon 8th Edition) by Barbara Clark

Facing the Challenges of Growing Up Gifted (audio) on NPR

‘Mellow Out’ They Say. If I Only Could Intensities and Sensitivities of the Young & Bright by Michael M. Piechowski, Ph.D. (book)

Mellow Out Book Cover

Coping When Extended Family Doesn’t Get Giftedness by Lisa Conrad

Cybraryman’s Asynchronous Development Page

Sprite’s Site Post for New Zealand Gifted Awareness Week Blog Tour


De Bono’s Action Plans with Special Guest Jo Frietag

Jo Freitag

This week’s special guest was Mrs. Jo Freitag of Gifted Resources in Australia and author of Sprite’s Site (blog). We discussed the use of De Bono’s Six Action Shoes Program as applied to gifted programs and in particular to Twice-Exceptional children. A full transcript of the chat may be found here.



Gifted Programs Planned Using De Bono’s 6 Action Shoes as a Planning Tool

Sprite’s Blue Formal Shoes

Sprite’s Grey Sneakers 

Sprite’s Brown Brogues 

Sprite’s Orange Gumboots 

Sprite’s Pink Slippers 

Sprite’s Purple Riding Boots 

Building Gifts into Talents: Overview of the DMGT (pdf) 

Sprite’s More Shoes

Sprite’s Plaster Cast

Sprite’s One Size Shoe Cover System

Gifted Resources Blog

Gifted & Creative Services Australia

Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page

Feetspeak: 2E Shoes Project 

The Psych-Owl-Ogist

Nest Ed

Dabrowski Dogs

Black Dogs

Memory Elephant

Columbus Cheetah Myth Buster


De Bono Six Action Shoes

Cybraryman’s Socratic Seminar Page

Book Lists for Gifted Learners

In this chat, we discussed the issues surrounding the task of finding appropriate reading material for gifted children. Questions prompted participants to consider bibliotherapy and how reading selections can promote intellectual development and higher order thinking skills. A full transcript can be found here.


Using Bibliotherapy with Gifted Children

Royal Fireworks Press

Great Potential Press

Free Spirit Publishing

Reading Lists for Your Gifted Child from @HoagiesGifted

Resources for Bibliotherapy

Bibliotherapy with Gifted Students

Read All About It: Using Bibliotherapy with Gifted Children from Round Rock ISD

Seney’s Literature for Gifted Young Adults Thanks to @HoagiesGifted

Scholastic Books’ Book Wizard

A Unique Reading List for Gifted Students in Grades 6 – 12 via @HoagiesGifted

Stephanie Tolan’s Lists of Books and Plays via @HoagiesGifted

Minding the Gap: Engaging Gifted Readers

Book List for Pre-Teen Gifted Readers

Challenging Gifted Readers

Horrible Histories

Cybraryman’s Socratic Seminar

Psychology or Philosophy for Kids from Debbie Smith

Reading Lists from Jo Freitag’s Gifted Resources

Journals for Kids

Info 101: Book List for Pre-Teen Gifted Readers

Some of My Best Friends Are Books: Guiding Gifted Readers (book ~ Amazon)

Book Lists from Armadillosoft

The Gifted Reader’s Bill of Rights (pdf)

#gtchat: “Helping Gifted Kids Understand What It Means to Be Gifted”

During this chat, we explored ways to help gifted kids understand what it means to be gifted. A full transcript of the chat may be found here. This week, we welcomed many new  participants as well as lurkers and requested that ‘side-conversations’ among the regulars be kept to a minimum to provide a more welcoming atmosphere for our new guests.

The first question we discussed was which definition of ‘giftedness’ should be used. A number of definitions were mentioned and can be found in the transcript. Also discussed were strategies to help gifted children become self-aware, how others’ expectations can have a negative impact on children, and how parents shared their understanding of giftedness with their children.


Giftedness: The View from Within” from @DavidsonGifted

The Emotional Needs of the Gifted Child” Annemarie Roeper

Intellectual Giftedness” Wikipedia

Helping Your Highly Gifted Child” Stephanie Tolan

Helping Adolescents Adjust to Giftedness

Giftedness and the Gifted: What’s It All About?

What Does Gifted Mean

What Does it Mean to be Gifted/Talented” (pdf)

Characteristics and Needs of the Gifted

101 Success Secrets for Gifted Kids (Amazon) by @chrstinef

Are We Redefining the Wrong Word?” from Stephanie Tolan

2010 Definition from the NAGC

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