The Gifts of Gifted

As I am writing this, I am exhausted.  Not only this morning did I help at my daughter’s school for their holiday party where I had to keep up with 15 six to seven year-olds, but I had to keep up with my own kiddo.  For those who don’t know, Kari is what most term “gifted” in the education system.  The kids had about seven crafts to do.  With each craft, Kari would become frustrated if it didn’t look just as she wanted and would begin to cry.  I tried to field the tears so the other moms didn’t have to juggle her tantrum and help the other kids at the station as well.  After each instance, I would approach her, tell her, “I think it looks great.  If you spend too much time making this craft and trying to make it exactly how you see it in your head, you will not have time to do all of the crafts.” I would then walk away. She would stop crying and move on.  At the end, I was very proud of her.  She did not get to make one craft because she ran out of time.  She looked like she was going to cry, so I told her about my warnings and maybe she could be allowed to make one later if she finished her schoolwork.  She changed her expression and agreed that was a good plan!

Chris and I were both “gifted” in school, but it is rather different dealing with it from the other side.  And, frankly, she’s a mix of how we were in school so we have to combine forces to understand.  She won’t do school work she knows and has to be bribed to do so, because “what’s the point?!” This is very Chris. She wants everything to be just so and will cry if not perfect.  This is so me. And, in some cases, it takes the two of us to logic it out against her.  We try very hard as parents to not say, “because I said so!”

Many people don’t understand why I suck in a breath before I tell people she’s gifted.  They think gifted is great and parenting a smart kid should be a cinch.  Yes, gifted is great, but like any other child, they have their challenges and that is hard to explain to people who think gifted equals easy.  It’s like trying to parent a child with super logic skills and intense emotions.  It’s hard having such intense feelings for such a small kiddo.

What many don’t know unless you are an educator or a parent of a gifted child yourself is that the giftedness applies to more than just school work. Many days it is a challenge to keep up with them.

Sure, they hear you, but they might reason that what you’re saying isn’t a priority for them right now and continue on with their project. Also, just because they are in deep concentration doesn’t mean they cannot hear you.  They are like little absorbant sponges sucking up all the stimuli around their environment.

For Kari, the everyday challenges we battle involve her fixation, perfectionism and reasoning.  Getting her to brush her teeth isn’t just, “Kari, go brush your teeth please”, rather, “Kari, go brush your teeth right now. We need to XYZ and we can do ABC later. Go now please.”  Otherwise, she’ll reason in her noggin she can do XYZ later because it’s not what she is fixated on right now.

Like with anything, most of us want to do our best.  With gifted kiddos, it is this perfectionism that drives them to frustration and it can be very hard to talk them down off the ledge of a tantrum.  Kari’s frustration with her perceived inability to do the activity perfectly drives her concentration further.  This is often where my patience is tested!

Vivid Imagination
Daydreaming is a great activity, but it sure can be disruptive if something else should be occurring at that point in time.  All of these ideas and thoughts inside can be very distracting, and sometimes gifted kids need their daydreaming or introspective time.  Many gifted

Fairness, Rules and When Injustice Happens
Gifted kids often understand the rules, why they are important and they fail to have patients for when the rules are broken.  Kari is a stickler for the rules.  She would constantly correct other kids.  It wasn’t until I had a conversation with her about when she corrects the kids at school she is doing three things:  being what the other kids might see as bossy, depriving the other kids from a learning experience and not following the rules herself.  Once I laid it out for her like that, she stopped her outbursts of frustration.  She will still come home and vent her frustrations about how the kids didn’t listen and it affected the class’ day.

There are emotional challenges too.  This is where Living with Intensity Living with Intensity was particularly helpful for me to help me go back in time to recall those feelings.  It can be frustrating for gifted children as they are dealing with all of these ideas in their head, their tendency toward fairness and rules, and then their logic when working out social issues with other kids.  They also sometimes have conflicts with listening to the adult or their logic.