Monday, December 17, 2012

Finding the Gifts in Your Gifted Child

by Samantha Sawyer
You're proud of your gifted child's achievements, but whenever you hear the words from other parents' lips, "You are so lucky," you inwardly cringe. They have no idea how hard you work to do simple things like run errands, go to events and eat a peaceful dinner. It's hard reconciling the "gift" of a highly intelligent child and the challenge of every day life with one. Read on for ways to outsmart your smarty-pants and enjoy more peace and calm in your home.
Despite providing your gifted child every possible opportunity to succeed in life, he throws fits and has intense outbursts of anger. Your positive parenting attempts don’t seem to matter when he’s caught up trying to entangle you in a power struggle. Parents want the best for their child, but when it comes to gifted, intense children it can be tricky to know exactly what is best. There’s a pot of gold at the end of this rainbow (or so you’ve heard) but what about right now?
When a child’s intensity spills over into their social-emotional interactions it tests our nerves, to say the least. It takes all the control we, as adults, can muster to stay calm and logical when the little one is yelling, fussing and demanding that we follow his rules instead of the other way around. How can you shift this behavior so that he learns to get along with others, a true prediction of success and happiness in life?
We mistakenly assume that children born with intense, sharp minds come wired with the corresponding social skills. However, a child born with muscles isn’t born an athlete. Skills develop when they are targeted with intention, consistency and repetition. Let’s shake up this super-serious “me” behavior by giving your child large doses of “we.”
  Set the rules of your household along with your child
  Post the rules at your child’s eye-level in a common room
  When a rule is broken enforce a short 30-second break (this applies to all family members, grown-ups included)
  Catch moments when your child is obeying a rule he doesn’t usually follow (e.g. no yelling) and provide heartfelt appreciation

Setting house rules allows your child to know what the limits are within your family, which gives him internal security, especially since he had a voice in creating the rules. Providing deep, heartfelt reinforcement for good behavior floods his brain with intense happy chemicals, which makes him more likely to repeat the behavior you praised and less likely to lash out in anger.

Your intense, gifted child is well on his way to developing a strong self-identity so use the best platform you have available – your family - to nurture his sense of unity and cohesion. Being intentional and consistent about house rules allows you and your child to respond in more predictable and peaceful ways. So grab hold of the tail end of that rainbow and ride it high into the sky! Let the opportunities you provide nurture your child’s emotional skills as much as his academic skills, and he will successfully mature into his natural giftedness.
You can believe this!
Samantha Sawyer, M.A. CCC-SLPOwner, Brightening Connections

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