Mind Over… Emotion?

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This word perfectly describes the gifted childs not-so-strong point. So many gifted children have so many things going on in their head all at once, and sometimes that causes trouble on the outside. Sadly, as a nation, we have a problem with name-calling. We label these children and teens as “problem kids”. I’ve heard it done and I’ve seen the emotional toll it can take.

Now we have a child who already has difficulty expressing him/herself and so acts out because he feels he/she is being called names. What does that do? It makes more emotions. Which he can’t express well. Which leads to negative actions. Do you see the negative train? It’s a vicious cycle that will continue throughout his/her life. Unless parents/teachers/educational helpers, etc. help derail it and merge onto a more positive line. Because everybody can help, not just the parents or just the principal. It takes a team effort.

I myself still have trouble vocalizing my emotions. And when I say trouble, I mean I don’t do it barely at all. Gifted children, as stated in an earlier article here, don’t always like being asked how they feel. We can be almost analytical and would rather be asked “what happened”. After which, you’ll probably have to wait quite a bit to get the whole story but during which you can clearly see their emotions on their sleeve. And this is something not many people realize.

I’ll cover more later, but giftedness isn’t all about being smart. It’s an emotional thing as well. We tend to get overstimulated by certain”triggers” so to speak. We have what some would think are the “silliest” quirks. But to us, they’re the world. So, when they are put down or misunderstood or ignored, etc. we become emotional. And sometimes it shows. And not in a good way. A lot act out, leading to the previous stated situation. But what can you do to help your child or student?

Get them to tell you what happened. Don’t talk. Listen and nod. When their hearts are emptied, commend them. For anything and everything they did good. Thank them for telling you. And then, reason with them about what they should have done. Don’t tell them. Have them analyze how a different behavior or reaction would have worked out. Appeal to their intellect but not their ego. In this way, you’re teaching them to slow down, think, and then react. This also can help with overstimulation. When there’s a hundred things going on in our heads, we don’t often “slow down”. In most cases, that’s ok. But in others, not so much. More on that later. For now, help your child or student feel comfortable expressing him/herself and teach them how to. And overall, love them and watch them grow!

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To Be or Not to Be? Is There A Choice?

Giftedness; it’s not something you can choose or really hide very well. It’s not something you can make up or pretend either. Yet many children have a bit of a problem with it. No, I’m not talking about the kids who aren’t gifted, I’m talking about the gifted kids. Our society has a problem with pride. They’re so proud if a child grows up to be the next big star, or a leader, or an athlete. But heaven forbid if a child is gifted and their comprehension level is higher than average. So they teach those kids about shame. They shouldn’t be proud about that. They should be proud of normalcy, with some talent thrown in in a certain area. I disagree. This pride of normalcy is telling gifted children they aren’t normal, they can’t be like other kids. But they can. It’s ok not to be a cookie cutter mold.

The above average comprehension skills of gifted children can throw many people off at first, and many times can make the child or teen feel isolated. As a three year old, I was reading at a twelfth grade level, with the comprehension of a tenth grader. Needless to say, my parents were careful what they spoke about. No, but really, many children or teens with this level of comprehension can be (I hate to say it) outcasts, loners in the big world of public schools and growing up. They are small bodies with the mind of an adult. Therefore, as they begin to interact with other kids, as groups start to form and circles of friends, and, sadly, as cliques start to build, a child will be accepted and rejected. Why? Because their logic is not the same as that of the others. They automatically analyze the situations they’re in and any ideas and probably totally dismiss them as, well, stupid. For an age group, the ideas are not stupid, but as adults, we see the flaws in them and so can most gifted students. Hence the importance of finding gifted programs. When I first started schooling, I was in a normal kindergarten, and most of the kids probably couldn’t stand me. To fix the problem, every week, the teachers and principal would try to place me in another grade. The fifth week, I was in the fifth grade. I was irritated and bored. I knew everything they were teaching or at least understood it quicker than the kids in the class. I was tutoring fifth graders. I couldn’t stand homework because I though it was pointless. To me, and even through (actual) fifth grade in a gifted program, I thought school was stupid. Mainly because I could comprehend things outside school quicker. My point is that gifted children often get pushed to the edges by other children because they are so unafraid to be different and express that.

This can also cause problems with adults though. In the school system and out, when a gifted child shows blatant disrespect for the system, it won’t go over well. I know what you’re thinking. But my child loves to learn and he loves his teachers and he’s an angel, he would never do such a thing! Good. But this is general. That’s wonderful if it never happens, but don’t be surprised if it does. However, the situation can be diffused. Gifted programs are designed for them and provide them an environment where they can talk about whatever their heart desires. I really enjoyed it myself because all the kids thought like me, were interested in school and learning, etc. Otherwise, outside of school, a gifted child just needs stimulation. Give them a hobby, try to pique their interest. Many love music, the arts, reading, writing. By focusing them on that, you’ll help them grow and give them something to talk about in a group. You know, other than the formulaic expression for salt or politics.

I’m not saying that the above isn’t ok. I’m merely suggesting that some help should be provided and an explanation given why some kids might be overwhelmed by their normal conversation, or how to express oneself, or how to start conversations and make friends. Because their comprehension is so great and they’re mini adults, you’ll be happy to know that this should go over well. If not, just tweak how you’re presenting yourself, try presenting the notion at a different time, etc. Do what works for your kid. These are just general. But overall, teach your kid it’s ok to be. To be gifted, to be smart, to be talented, to be different. To be them.