Dealing with the Difficulties of Giftedness - One Day at a Time




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We started homeschooling our gifted 2e daughter when she was three. Along the way she encountered some of the typical issues associated with giftedness: including sleep issues, intensities and excitabilities, sensory issues, and anxiety, etc. We tried a variety of strategies to help her.

This article includes a discussion of the things that we found to be most successful and helpful to us. As many of you know, my "kiddo" is now a junior in college, studying honors global leadership, political science and communications. Today, I am looking back to the earlier years, when the difficulties of giftedness were more apparent.

Let's start with the number one issue that came up in our house, during the toddler, preschool and elementary years....that of helping our daughter get to sleep.


1.  SLEEP

My kiddo took hours to get to sleep as a little one.  Learning to settle her excited intense mind was  a challenges for sure.  Our bedtime routine helped some, with bath and story-time, but each night she often took more than two hours to settle down and get to sleep. Things gradually got better, and we tried a number of approaches to try to help.  Around 6th grade, getting to sleep was much less of an issue.

Things we did that helped:

Bedtime Routine -

Following a similar bedtime routine, with a fairly well set bedtime, helped.  We set things with lots of books and favorite quiet activities, so that she could play on her own, in her room.

As a preschooler, she learned to stay in her room at bedtime, after her storytime, and usually played herself to sleep.  This gave us some time to relax from the hectic day, while we were in the next room, available to her if needed.  Gradually things improved.

Breathing exercises and Relaxation Tapes -

Breathing exercises, kid oriented relaxation tapes, or favorite music cd's also helped some.  We taught our young one how to breath from the diaphragm, but making it a game and doing it together, laying on the floor. We each put a toy on our stomachs and practiced making the toy go up, and then back down, using the diaphragm.

Also, learning to accept that this was our normal.  It just took more time for our daughter to get to sleep for many years.

Now, let's talk intensities.

2.  INTENSITIES

Having lots of intense feelings and needing tons of attention, along with lots of questions to be answered, led to a very worn out mama, especially when my daughter was young.  We both needed naps, lol!

Things that we did that helped:

Homeschooling -

Learning at home helped a lot with, as our daughter could delve deeply into things intensely or be quite active, as she was at home, instead of being in a classroom setting.  Having lots of books, crafts, supplies around, available for her use, was also a help.

When she was a preschooler, we went through tons of cardboard and tape.  Practically everyday. that was such a joy, to see her creations!

My daughter's art project, after going to a fair.
Having a Routine or Daily Schedule -

Structuring her time as a little one, with a predictable schedule, helped her to learn to manage her intensities. Things were predictable, and that helped a lot. Our daughter could anticipate what was going to happen next.

We also used time outs, or quiet breaks, such as a quiet reading time, or a favorite video from the library, when she needed to settle things.

Afternoon Naps or Room Play -

Having naps in the afternoon were essential.  I needed that rest time for me in the afternoons.  When my daughter no longer needed a nap, we  switched to a quiet play time in bedroom.  That helped her settle out, and gave me the important time to put my feet up and de-stress.  And an adjusted mama was essential to my daughter's functioning, too!

Taking Quiet Breaks When Things Got Intense

Sometimes during our homeschool day, we used some calming down techniques, especially when she was little.  Quiet time with the cat, watching favorite videos from the library, listening to audio tapes, all of these things helped.

Using Blankets - 

Blankets are great for deep pressure, to help calm the nerves. Have you ever heard of "making a burrito" with a blanket?

Making a burrito - 

Place a blanket on couch, and spread it out.  Then ask your child to sit on it, and help them to wrap each side of the blanket across their lap, in effect, making a burrito, with your child all snuggled into it.  This was a favorite way for my preschooler to help calm herself.  We just used a regular blanket for this, not with a weighted blanket and it was not tight.  We only did this for short periods, like a few minutes, when my child felt like it.  Sometimes she even liked being rolled up gentle into a blanket.  Awe, the comfort of blankets.

Baths - 

Long baths - As a young one, we had lot of toys for play in the tub, with things to play with and stick on the wall, etc.  This kept her in the bath longer and she calmed so nicely to the warm water.  And had tons of fun!

Baths were not just for the kiddos in our house. I often tried to find time in the evenings for a long bath for me, as my hubby took over the bed time routine most evenings.  I needed my calming time, too!

Intensities also meant that we got to share in our daughter's intense joy, feelings, passions all along the way.  Much joy was had by all of us!

Watching our daughter's love of learning blossom, in Cat School.
Another concern that came up for our daughter was her sensory issues.

3.  SENSORY ISSUES

Sensory issues are quite common among gifted kids.  My daughter was a sensory seeker, always wanting vestibular input, spinning, running, twirling, jumping, doing headstands off the couch, etc.  I have an O.T. background (Occupational Therapy) so I was comfortable finding the sensory activities that she needed to do.  And our couches have lasted all of the hand springs and tumbling!

Our kiddo needed lots of vestibular and deep pressure input. She also reacted to any tags on clothing or any restrictive clothing. Tactile defensive, too.  Also loud noises bothered her.  Sometimes just achknowledging the issue helped.  Oh, that was a siren.  I know your don't like noises like that.

Things that we did that helped:

Gymnastics -

Well, she was a natural gymnastics kid!

So we used Parks dept toddler play, tumbling classes, and these were very helpful.  Preschool gymnastics led to more, through the years.  Having these gymnastics skills meant that she could use them to take active breaks whenever she needed to, to calm or just to by physical, such as tumbling on the living room rug.

She would do cartwheels in the living room and I encouraged that, and headstands, etc. We also made a simple gymnastics floor in her bedroom.  Gymnastics became a favorite activity all the way through high school and that led to good self esteem.

I loved watching her gymnastics meets and seeing her on the balance beam, doing her routines.
But paid classes are not necessary, that is just what we chose to do.  Any traditional playgroup, with swings and merry-go-rounds to push can work very well, too.  Some families look for a pediatric O.T.and use them for sensory integration therapy.

Gymnastics and dance were great outlets for our kiddo.
Stuff that helped -

We bought a simple plastic spinner, which my young one could sit on, and spin around in,
Later a desk chair to spin in was a hit.
Small inside trampoline for winter.
Big exercise ball to bounce on across the room
Outside - swing, big trampoline.

Out to the park a lot, especially for the swings.  Lots of that.

Clothing Issues -

Avoiding jeans and instead using sweatpants, sweatshirts, tee shirts, comfortable clothing
Taking tags off.
By middle school, jeans became popular in our house, and the sweat pants not so much anymore. Oh, the fun of shopping for jeans for the first time, with my daughter!

At the park nearby.
The next issue I'd like to touch on is anxiety.

4.  ANXIETY

Our kiddo had some struggles with anxiety, and often wanted to know what was happening next, such as where we were going, on a ride, etc.  

What we did that helped:

Predictable routine
Gave her as much control as possible, or choosing from two or three options when she was little
Playing, lots and lots of playing
Taught her self calming
Audio books
Breathing exercises
Built in down time, quiet reading
Baths
Reinforcing developing independence
Sometimes we limited access to tv news
Going to the park
Goofing off
Being silly
Being there for her

Using figets, small items to play with, were a great help when homeschooling, especially when verbal directions or explanations were given. As our daughter became more confident, her anxieties have lessened. a lot.


And lastly, let's talk about competition and perfectionism.

5.  COMPETITIVE TENDENCIES and PERFECTIONISM 

We let her win board games a lot as a young one!  Then we got her a lot of thinking, cognitive games like chess.  She was often distracted by the thinking process, that she forgot to focus on winning.
Still, I have so many good memories of my daughter and my hubby playing all sorts of games together.  We had a lot of fun with it!

We often used humor.  Competitiveness has become a positive thing in my daughter's college life. She has learned to balance it out with other things, like self care, and yet, to push herself towards her dreams.

As far as perfectionism...Well, I am a perfectionist, too, so we have worked together on this, through the years  When my kiddo was young, we had fun practicing making mistakes, and made it a game.
Making mistakes on purpose helped!  It lessened the power of goofing up.

SUMMARY

Many of the concerns mentioned above were pretty well worked out by 6th grade or so.  We honored our daughter's achievements and, at the same time, tried to help her to find a balance by following her own heart, building in self care, and giving her permission to make lots of mistakes.  And us, too.

 Isn't that what we all need?

I just had to add this last picture.  My now, college student daughter was asked to make a publicity shot for Admissions on her campus.  She works there as a college tour leader, between classes.


Check out all the other great posts from the other Gifted Homeschool Network bloggers in this month's blog hop - Difficulties of Giftedness Blog Hop.

Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting and text

What are some of the issues related to giftedness, that have come up at your house?  I would love it if you shared those or any comments that you may have, in the comments section below.  It is a joy to hear from you.

I also helped my gifted 2e daughter prepare for and get nto college as an always homeschooled student.  Here are my best tips for college prep and homeschooling high school, in my recently published book:


My daughter got into each college that she applied to, with her homemade homeschool transcript.  I wrote this book to encourage others who are looking at the college option.  It is also available in print, also at the link mentioned above.


Thanks for stopping by,

Betsy


Betsy is mom to her college junior whom she homeschooled from day one.  She blogs at BJ's Homeschool about the early yearshigh school and college, and is the author of "Homeschooling High School with College in Mind".  She offers free homeschool help through messages at BJ's Consulting.

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10 comments:

  1. Oh, the cardboard creations! We went through that stage as well. For a couple of years we had a huge bin of cardboard of every kind as well as plastic containers, etc. She got so much mileage out of that bin!

    The sleep issues are so tricky for 2e kids. My daughter found an app she downloaded that will play crickets/summer sounds and that helps a great deal now that she's a bit older. For a long time, I sang her to sleep with Christmas carols (year round!). :-)

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    1. Sallie, we never had enough cardboard and tape, and were always running out to the store to get more! It was so fun to watch her be so creative with such simple supplies. Oh, the sound of crickets...Sometimes we would go out as a family, on a ride, searching for crickets. It was a great way to get some quiet time together, as it required us all to be silent, so as to hear these little guys....and it was relaxing for my daughter, too. Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. I love that photo of your daughter with the balloons. She sounds so very much like my son. Our sofas also get daily gymnastics workouts! He loves his twice-weekly gymnastics sessions too. My son's about to turn 12. It's always so inspiring to hear of 2e kids like him that have turned out well.. Thanks for sharing your stories.

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    1. Oh, the gymnastics all over the couch....It was not hard to see that my little one needed preschool gymnastic classes. She loved those, and went on to take classes for many years, like your son. It is so fun to see her in college, and enjoying it! Of course, I worried about it, when she was a senior, but I really didn't need to...homeschooling prepared her well for that next adventure. Thanks for stopping by, Lucinda!

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  3. This is so thorough, Betsy! The competitiveness and perfectionism is a sticking point in our house, especially because my husband refuses to let our girls win ;)

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    1. Oh, the letting the child win...That happened here for awhile, then my hubby started to challenge her a bit, lol! I know what you mean about the perfectionism issue. I am that way, too, so my daughter and I worked on that together, and now she is so much less that way, and I hope I am, too! Thanks for stopping by, vkochis!

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  4. So much wonderful advice here -- thank you! I will bookmark this post for future help! I think it really helps parents to see that things will be okay eventually... despite the struggles. I love your photos, too. :-)

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    1. Thank you, Emily! That is so nice to hear! It is fun for me to look back and share some of our experiences, and especially to throw in an old photo of two....It does my heart good, as a mama. I hope that this post is a help to you in the future, and thanks for stopping by!

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  5. The trouble falling asleep was a big issue at our house for our youngest. For him, not falling asleep immediately caused a great deal of anxiety, and sometimes tearful anger. Making sure he had plenty of exercise, no screen time within one hour of bedtime and even having him snack on foods which were said to help with falling asleep were all tools we used. By far, the hardest part was to help him over his issue of expecting to fall asleep immediately.

    Thanks for sharing your many wonderful tips for the issues many gifted children have!

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    1. Thank you, Celi Trepanier for stopping by and sharing your helpful ideas re falling asleep. That will be a help for sure to other families who have kiddos like ours, who struggle with sleep. By middle school, sleep came so much easier to my daughter, which was such a relief! It was my pleasure to be a part of this month's GHF blog hop!

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