I'm not bragging.
My kid is gifted. We came to this conclusion after speaking to a child psychologist who gave him several tests, but what led us to the psychologist in the first place had nothing to do with academics.
Since my child was about two, we knew his mind was different than his peers. Not better, not worse, just different, and because we homeschool, we were able to watch and help his brain develop in a fashion suitable to his individual needs. But as he got older, we noticed him holding himself to impossible standards, and melting down when he couldn't achieve them.
I thought it was me. I thought I was doing something, maybe even subconsciously, to push him too hard, but I couldn't pinpoint anything specific. I started talking to more mothers whose children function differently, and I realized a few commonalities:
1. Our kids are subject driven. Or rather, subject obsessed. When they like something, they jump into it 110%, whether it's cooking, or bugs, or art. While other kids have interests, our kids have obsessions which last anywhere from a few months to a few years.
2. Socially, they're on the fringe of peers. They have friends, probably even a best friend, but when put into a group of twenty (like a classroom), they'll eventually find themselves drifting toward the outer circle of the group.
3. Generally, they don't seem to mind that they're on the fringe. They have a rather beautiful inherent self confidence.
4. They talk to adults, sometimes with more excitement than they talk to their peers.
5. At one point, some adult or peer has called them "odd", "abnormal", "weird", "not typical", and has suggested they need counseling or medication.
When I sought a psychologist, she suggested some testing. When she got the results, she explained there is nothing wrong with my child, he's just gifted.
By this time, my child was having meltdowns on a regular basis, typically when he couldn't do something he thought he could. Also, when he couldn't understand an emotion, whether it was one he was experiencing or one he witnessed, he'd have a melt down. Lots of kids do this, but for my gifted kid, it was worse. Way worse. And while I was glad to have some sort of name for his behavior, I wanted a solution, a way to help him.
Here's what I was told : Gifted children have minds that are more advanced then their bodies and emotions. They're brain may be on overdrive and they have trouble sorting through everything. They'll see adults acting in a certain way and want to emulate it. When they can't, because they're too young, they truly won't be able to understand why they failed.
Well, that explained the melt downs. But how do we help? What do I do to calm my child and help him when his emotions become too big? Between the psychologist and my friends with gifted children, I came up with a list:
yoga, a sensory friendly corner of the house, journaling or drawing, art therapy, playing outside, bubble baths, making a "family sandwich" (you and your spouse are the bread, you're child is the meat. This is a sensory activity), pray, keep a worry box (whenever you're worried, write it down, put it in the box, meditate.
There's more suggestions, but I learned to figure what my own kid likes to do to relax (video games) and encourage that when he gets overwhelmed.
I've also learned that gifted isn't what most people think. For some kids, it means reading at two years old or doing long division in second grade, but it's more than academics. It's the way a mind works, and it can be frustrating and difficult for a child and their parents.
When I became more aware, and started reading more about gifted children, I began to see similarities between gifted and medical conditions like OCD, ADHD, anxiety disorders...I began to wonder how many "problem" children were actually gifted, but couldn't express their advanced thoughts due to their young age. I wondered how many other moms were struggling to communicate with their gifted children, or teachers struggling to keep a gifted student engaged while their mind wonders off.
Yes, being gifted often means high scholastic advancement, but there's more. If we only focus on academic success, are we doing a gifted child justice?
I'm not bragging. I'm just trying to help my gifted child navigate his emotions, the stimulates electrifying his young mind, and make him feel safe and secure while doing it. And to help him realize that a different mind, while sometimes perceived as "odd" from those who don't fully understand it, is a beautiful thing.