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Too Much Worry – How do we help our gifted kids?

 

How do you distinguish anxiety from everyday worry? It’s extremely important to understand the difference between everyday worry and anxiety because this knowledge affects how we react to each one. Everyday worry is more generalized and prompts a problem-solving reaction. It is how we think about something rather than how we react to it. General worries, once solved, tend to go away. It doesn’t interfere with daily functioning. Anxiety equals an irrational fear. It provides a physical response that may last for long periods of time. It can affect school, work, and personal lives. Anxiety may require a diagnosis and psychological treatment.

Anxiety in gifted children may inhibit them from pursuing dreams or developing talents because it can drain their energy, cause them to be insecure, and to be absorbed by doubt and self-criticism. (Peters) When dealing with anxiety, gifted children may be faced with unreasonable high expectations from adults, bullying and social rejection due to the gifted label, and the tendency to focus on deficits. (Mendaglio) Research suggests that gifted individuals may possess traits such as coping strategies and high self-efficacy to reduce anxiety and this can help gifted children if they learn to effectively use these abilities. (Amend)

Gifted children are still children. Anxiety may manifest as ongoing worry, irritability, sleep issues, avoidance, or seemingly inexplicable changes in behavior. They may experience anxiety in the face of parental/teacher criticism or react inappropriately to being misunderstood by age-peers.

What unique sources of anxiety may be seen in gifted children? Gifted children may experience anxiety when moving from an inclusive classroom to a self-contained gifted classroom of intellectual peers. After many years of unchallenging classwork, gifted children often experience anxiety when they suddenly face challenge at the secondary level without necessary study skills. Gifted students often face criticism when they question adults, challenge authority, or display resistance to conformity; and the consequences can lead to anxiety.

Teachers can help GT students deal with anxiety at school. Helping any student at school is best done when built on a positive teacher-student relationship. Students are more receptive to teachers they trust and believe have their best interests in mind. Difficult conversations concerning the reasons for anxiety can often be made easier with bibliotherapy. Feelings may be addressed indirectly by using literature to explore the student’s needs.

How can parents help their gifted child cope with anxiety and worry? Parents should always be alert to the signs of anxiety in their children and know the difference between anxiety and worry. Introspection is a quality parents should cultivate in themselves. Overreacting to childhood behaviors, expecting too much, or failing to mind their own behavior may be the cause of anxiety in their child.

A transcript of this chat may be found at Wakelet.

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Thursdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Fridays at 2PM NZDT/Noon AEDT/1 AM UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Wakelet. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news and information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Resources:

How to Help Children Who are Highly Susceptible to Stress

Living With and Managing Intensity

Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students with Guest, Christine Fonseca

Anxiety-Free Kids: An Interactive Guide for Parents and Children (2nd ed.) (book)

Letting Go: A Girl’s Guide to Breaking Free of Stress and Anxiety (book)

Stressed Out!: Solutions to Help Your Child Manage and Overcome Stress (book)

Make Your Worrier a Warrior: A Guide to Conquering Your Child’s Fears (book)

The Warrior Workbook: A Guide for Conquering Your Worry Monster (book)

Make Your Worrier a Warrior (pdf)

The Gifted Kids Workbook: Mindfulness Skills to Help Children Reduce Stress, Balance Emotions, and Build Confidence (book)

4 Ways to Support Gifted Children with Anxiety

Management of Anxiety Begins at Home

Tips for Parents: Anxiety, Sensitivities and Social Struggles among Profoundly Gifted Kids

Why Gifted Children are Anxious, Plus 4 Ways to Help Them Cope

Anxiety in Gifted Children: 3 Simple Steps Parents and Educators Can Take

Monitoring Anxiety in Your Gifted Child

Understanding the Link between Empathy and Anxiety in Gifted Children

Managing Anxiety in Gifted Children

Do Gifted Children Struggle with Anxiety?

Taming The Worry Monster – Anxiety In Gifted Children (YouTube 1:32)

How to Help Your Gifted Child Cope With Anxiety

Tips for Parents: Worry and the Gifted: How Much is Too Much?

Hoagies’ Blog Hop: Perfectionism, Anxiety, and OCD

Why Smart Kids Worry: And What Parents Can Do to Help (book)

Worry Says What? (book)

Gratitude: The Short Film by Louie Schwartzberg (Vimeo 6:20)

Anxiety at School

Cybraryman’s Anxiety Page

Cybraryman’s Coping Strategies Page

Cybraryman’s Counseling Page

Cybraryman’s Yoga and Meditation Page

Cybraryman’s SEL Page

Generation Anxious

Depression, Anxiety, and the Mismanagement of Aliveness

Sprite’s Site: Dystopia

Disclaimer: Resources from Prufrock Press include affiliate links.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay CC0 Public Domain

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

Guest: Christine Fonseca, Author of ‘Raising the Shy Child’

gtchat Fonseca Shy Child

This week, #gtchat welcomed back our friend, Christine Fonseca, Prufrock Press Author, to discuss her latest book Raising the Shy Child: A Parent’s Guide to Social Anxiety. You can check out her website and blog, follow her on Twitter, like her on Facebook, and visit her on Goodreads. You can also preview her book at Google Books.

According to Christine, Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) can be recognized by physical, cognitive, and behavioral symptoms. Physical symptoms may include headaches, nausea, palpitations, or choking. Paralyzing fear of humiliation, embarrassment by peers, excessive worry, negation, and avoidance are possible cognitive symptoms. Behavioral symptoms of SAD can include avoiding eye contact, avoiding being in the spotlight, avoiding social events, or school phobia.

Social Anxiety Disorder is more than being anxious for a moment. It can be a lifelong struggle if not dealt with early on. Kids who use excuses – constantly going to the nurse’s office, for example – to avoid certain tasks may be experiencing SAD. Because it may mimic other conditions, adults need to be responsible when dealing with a child’s anxiety!

Not all children with underdeveloped social skills will develop social anxiety. However, lacking social skills can set the stage for social anxiety. Christine told us, “SAD happens when a combination of things occur. This combo is different for everyone. Behavior inhibition, parenting style, and a traumatic event can all contribute to the development of SAD, as well as poor social skills.”

Practicing particular social skills can help any child. It sometimes helps lessen some anxiety. Acting out behaviors seem to follow anxiety. Parents and teachers need to stop and think before reprimanding a child. Kids who may be afraid of an activity may exhibit a behavior they believe will help them avoid the situation altogether. However, Christine reminded as that it is important to support giftedness before assuming SAD.

The conversation then turned to the role of perfectionism, sometimes associated with giftedness, in potential Social Anxiety Disorder. Christine believes that “perfectionism has a bad reputation.” [She] sees this as “task commitment – something that is ultimately good and necessary, but when perfectionism turns to paralysis and avoidance; THEN it is a problem. And yes, this can lead to SAD in some cases. With a mild case, you can teach social skills, work with the school to provide in class strategies, and employ CBT approaches.”

“For students experiencing SAD, support can include increased sensitivity [to the] anxiety, teaching calming techniques (deep breathing, etc) and developing safe zones at school,” Christine explained. “It’s Very important to NOT allow child to develop a habit of skipping or avoiding school or social events. This doesn’t help. [For] severe cases, use a counselor or therapist to assist. CBT and exposure methods are highly effective.”

Some behaviors come out of no where. Learning calming strategies beforehand; even practicing can be valuable. earning the triggers to anxiety can prove invaluable in the classroom as well as at home. For a more extensive review of the chat, a transcript may be found at Storify.

Raising the Shy Child Cover

Congratulations to Mr. Gelston, educator in his Virtual One Room Schoolhouse in Lexington, MA, who was the winner of a copy of Raising the Shy Child courtesy of the author!

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 NZDT/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 Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our new Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

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:

How to Raise Shy Kids with Confidence

Publisher’s Weekly Select 2015 Parenting Titles

Shy Kids: Do We Really Need to Change Them?

Social Phobia at Medscape

Infant-Parent Attachment: Definition, Types, Antecedents, Measurement & Outcome 

Social Anxiety Disorder Fact Sheet DSM-V (pdf)

Social Anxiety in Children: Social Skills Deficit, or Cognitive Distortion? (pdf)

Use of Differential Reinforcement & Fading with Separation Anxiety Disorder

Promoting Adolescents’ Prosocial Behavior (pdf)

When Your Child’s Exceptionality is Emotional: Looking Beyond Psychiatric Diagnosis via SENG

What is Social Anxiety?

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

Why Smart Kids Worry with guest, Allison Edwards

Our guest this week was Allison Edwards, author of Why Smart Kids Worry: And What Parents Can Do to Help. Allison began working with gifted kids 15 years ago as a school counselor. She was responsible for identifying, placing and coordinating resources for gifted students. Allison had to learn very quickly what gifted students needed and how they functioned inside the regular classroom. 8 years ago, she started a private psychotherapy practice where she specializes in working with gifted and anxious kids.

Our first question was to ask why smart kids worry. Allison told us that smart kids worry because their minds take them places they aren’t ready to go emotionally. They have the ability to intellectually understand things they can’t emotionally process thus creating anxiety. The ability to think about advanced topics is an asset inside the classroom but can be a detriment outside of it.

What signs should parents look for if they suspect their child is unduly worried? Parents will want to look for changes in behavior. These include: resistance to participate in previously enjoyed activities, stomachaches, headaches or loss of appetite. Kids who process anxiety outwardly will talk incessantly about their worries and/or ask repetitive questions about fears. Kids who process anxiety inwardly will withdraw, pull away and be resistant to talking about their feelings.

What advice did Allison have for parents to help their children to not worry so much? She would advise parents to acknowledge their child’s feelings and resist the urge to rationalize the anxiety away. When parents try to rationalize with an anxious child, children feel devalued and will become defensive and resistant. The best way to help kids handle anxiety is to teach them anxiety-reduction tools. The tools will empower them to handle anxious moments and learn to self-soothe. A partial transcript may be found here.

Allison Edwards Pic

Allison Edwards will be speaking at the 2014 TAGT Annual Parent Conference in Fort Worth, Texas on Friday, December 5th at 12:30 PM. You can register for the TAGT Annual Parent Conference 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:

Why Smart Kids Worry: And What Parents Can Do to Help (Amazon) by Allison Edwards

Why Smart Kids Worry Book Cover

Allison Edwards’ Bio

Allison Edwards’ website

“4 Anxiety-Reduction Tools” for Children from Allison Edwards @CounelingBits (video)

Anxiety Trapper App for iPhone (iTunes App Store)

Allison Edwards’ Blog

12 Traits of Anxious Children (free download) from Allison Edwards

Allison Edwards ‘Why Smart Kids Worry’ (YouTube)

Why Smart Kids Worry on Facebook

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