Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

Parenting Gifted Children

Sunday, May 4th, 2014

Lots of gifted kids are, well, intense. Parenting them is a rollercoaster and some days, especially the ones when you feel outsmarted by them, can be downright exhausting! So, what can you do to help the journey become a little simpler? Hopefully some of these tips may help.

1.) Stay below the emotion presented – Chances are that if you live in a gifted household there may be more than one of you who is a little on the intense side! As hard as it may be, try to resist entering into an argument with your little lawyer. Be firm but calm when trying to get your message across – even if that means temporarily removing yourself from the situation before re-engaging with your child once you have calmed down. Once their emotions are in overdrive it can be hard to bring a gifted child back down!

2.) Be consistent – Gifted kids often have memories like elephants. If you say that you are going to do something then do it. This includes when it comes to discipline. If their behavior is unacceptable and you decide on a consequence ensure you follow through on that consequence. Banning screen time or saying you are going to cancel a play date but then giving in demonstrates to your bright spark that they can wrap you around their little finger. The rollercoaster can be a whole lot harder when they’re running the show!

3.)  Let them feel involved – Consistency is important but so is compromise. If your child is partially responsible for their own discipline there is a fair chance   that they will be more likely to comply when their behaviour starts to go a little pear shaped. In a quiet moment, why not sit down and discuss what your child believes may be a reasonable consequence for poor behavior. Even at a young age it’s possible to have a discussion and throw some ideas around. Once you reach an agreement, write it down. It’s much easier to be consistent when you have a plan in place, and much more likely to work than losing your cool and yelling unreasonable punishments. It’s also much harder for kids to argue against a consequence that they have already agreed is fair.

4.)  Teach self-monitoring skills – Regulating emotions is a big deal for many of these children. They just think more, feel more – everything is more. Sometimes a self-monitoring system may help. So, you could teach a child to label their emotions and learn to recognise them before they reach fever pitch. You could try a colour scale, or even a tornado scale, running from a gentle breeze to a full scale Wizard of Oz twister. Gifted children are often remarkably capable of learning to recognise when their emotions are taking over, and subsequently learning techniques to calm themselves down.

5.)  Stay aware at parties and social gatherings – If your child is intense then take them outside to calm down at the first sign of them losing their calm, or even better just check in with them at regular intervals to gauge how they are coping. Become aware of certain triggers that you know may cause them to become over-stimulated. Take earplugs to a party if your child becomes agitated by loud noises for example, or pack your own snacks if you know that party food will likely result in your already spirited child becoming completely unruly. And if you have a little introvert, take a book and some paper and colouring pencils. Then approach the host about a quiet place that your child can go if things become too much and they can feel a meltdown coming on. Knowing there is a place they can escape to can ease an anxious or introverted child’s worries immensely.

6.) Try treating your child as if they are their intellectual instead of their chronological age – Imagine being 14 and someone talking to you as if you are 9. Of course, there needs to be a balance, but don’t forget – these kids are asynchronous. Parenting books aren’t generally targeted at helping to raise kids who are ‘many ages at once’, so may be of limited use when it comes to gifted kids. A bit like the milestones in baby books!

7.)  Listen, listen and then listen some more – Poor behavior is often a sign that something is not right in your child’s world. Frustration and anxiety can be hard for a child to articulate and what you may see may only be the acting out. Tantrums by overindulged kids are not a result of giftedness but if your child’s behavior seems out of context according to the child that you know then consider whether it could be a response to their environment, not simply them being awkward or manipulative. If there is no material gain to be had, chances are they could be feeling emotionally overwrought. Also, be aware that gifted children can also be masters at masking learning differences such as dyslexia, to name one of many. Unidentified learning disabilities can also be the cause of frustration and resulting tantrums.

8.)  Practice self-awareness – Be aware of your own emotions. Gifted kids are often perceptive. Really perceptive! Chances are if you’re anxious or frustrated you may be unconsciously projecting your own concerns onto them and they will return them in kind. Be positive and consistently demonstrate problem- solving abilities in front of your child. Try not to set-up a co-dependent relationship, and be aware of feeding each other’s worries or anger. Sacrificing yourself to focus 24/7 on your child is not healthy. Taking care of your own needs is one of the best things you can do to demonstrate the importance of self-love and acceptance to your child. A friend of mine likens this to putting on your own oxygen mask first. No matter how intense your child, you can only be an effective parent if you can breathe yourself!

If you’d like more information on parenting intense kids then Michael Piechowski’s Mellow Out They Say, If I Only Could is worth a look. For parenting ‘spirited’ littlies, Mary Sheedy Kurcinka’s Raising Your Spirited Child is a useful guide to calming down and working with emotional little people without squashing their spirit. Finally, Living With Intensity (edited by Daniels and Piechowski) is a fabulous resource to help understand and work through how it feels to be different due to being gifted.

11 Things I Have Learned About Giftedness

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

Sooo, I thought it was time that this Mermaid got her blog on :) . There won’t be regular posts – the world is way too chaotic right now, but I figured that as gifted ‘stuff’ runs through my head for much of every day that I may as well get some of it down on paper! So welcome, come for a swim – and hopefully you’ll find something that resonates with you and your journey :) .

11 Things I have Learned About Giftedness:

1.) Much of the world knows absolutely nothing about giftedness, including many gifted folk. Gifted is wiring pure and simple – regardless of school results, learning difficulties, or behaviour.

2.) Untangling the knot that is a 2E child can be more painful than giving birth!

3.) You are your child’s best advocate. And if you live in an area where giftedness is not a part of teacher training, chances are you may also be the person in that IEP meeting  who has the most knowledge about gifted kids and their needs.

4.) I can home school my children without being arrested for physically abusing my kids, or suffering a complete nervous breakdown – just.

5.) A child’s behaviour may be symptomatic of the child’s learning environment and not necessarily a result of lax parenting or a disorder like adhd. However, tantrums by overindulged kids are not a result of overexcitabilities, and gifted kids can have a co-existing issue such as a learning disability,  disorder, or syndrome.

6.) Gifted and hormones equals a whole new rollercoaster ride. Just when you think you’ve got things sorted along comes puberty and your child displays a whole new underground basement of exciting  quirks and completely bizarre thought processes.. Oh, and this may be considerably earlier in gifted kids than their age peers. So, buckle up!

7.) You are the expert when it comes to your child. Not the school. Not the paed. Not the OT. Not the speechie. As much as it may feel like paying a professional will give you the answers you need for this journey – there is no quick fix. Sure, assessments and testing may help you get a picture of where your child is at but what really works is observing and listening to your child – and then reading. LOTS of reading. So, get googling or visit the library and soak gifted info up like a sponge – then ensure you act on what you learn!

8.) Feel like you’re all alone out there in that big old universe? Online communities are GOLD.  Try googling ‘gifted support group’ and your town and/or country. Connection is merely a click away!

9.) Like everyone else gifted people come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. The more gifted people you connect with the more likelihood there is of finding someone who has the same values and belief system as your own family. Gifted kids need access to like minds in order to thrive.

10.) The grouping of kids in classes according to chronological age may be just enough to blow your, or your child’s, noodle – and more likely both, if appropriate differentiation isn’t provided.

11.) A padlock on the bathroom door if you would like to pee in peace can be a sanity saver! It provides two minutes free of questions from small people with very curious minds. Be warned: once said padlock is installed you may like your new ‘place’ a little too much!