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Successfully Parenting Your Gifted Child Using the SENG Formula Presented by Lori Comallie-Caplan, MA, LMSW.

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Presentation on theme: "Successfully Parenting Your Gifted Child Using the SENG Formula Presented by Lori Comallie-Caplan, MA, LMSW."— Presentation transcript:

1 Successfully Parenting Your Gifted Child Using the SENG Formula Presented by Lori Comallie-Caplan, MA, LMSW

2 What is the current social and education climate? Much ignorance, misinformation, and bias still exists about talented, able learners. Parent of gifted children are often criticized as exaggerating or being pushy. Parents of gifted children have very few resources for information. The research indicates that parents are extremely important, but may not be included by schools in developing programming or services.

3 Social-Emotional Issues for Parent Understanding Asynchronous development Communication issues Motivation and Underachievement Discipline and self-discipline Understanding Intensity Perfectionism and Stress Idealism and Depression Sibling issues Perfectionism The potential for misdiagnosis of gifted children

4 Starts early…

5 Never ends…

6 Asynchronous development means a child may: Be physically six years old –Have the reading level of a 12 year old –Have math capabilities of a 9 year old –Have writing abilities of a 6 year old

7 “Giftedness is asynchronous development in which advanced cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm. This asynchrony increases with higher intellectual capacity. The uniqueness of the gifted renders them particularly vulnerable and requires modifications in parenting, teaching and counseling in order for them to develop optimally.” (The Columbus Group, 1991)

8 Communication: The Key to Relationships “The worst part about being gifted is the loneliness….I struggle with difficult issues like religion, morality, philosophy, and politics, and there simply isn’t anyone I can talk to. I have to deal with things all by myself.” (A Parent’s Guide to Gifted Children, “Communication: The Key to Relationships.” p. 37).

9 Communication Tips Find a Way To Say Yes Just Listen, Actively listen – Special Time “I” Statements Be Curious Rather Than Confrontational Be aware of what you model –We say things we would not say to another adult (“killer statements”) –We often model yelling, lack of acceptance of others, poor problem-solving –Avoid sarcasm; ridicule; gossip

10 Motivation School is a place where I am forced to go every day for 13 years and told to sit quietly while an adult repeatedly teaches other kids things which I already know or don’t ever care to know. I am expected to rote- learn all manner of trivia in order to get good enough grades to be allowed to go to another place called “university”--which to me just looks, sounds and smells like more “school”…. And you ask me why I’m not “motivated”?

11 Motivating the Gifted Child Start where the child is Anticipatory praise Recognize the child's needs; goal-setting Encouragement, not criticism Importance of personal relationships Praise the process, not the product Frequency of praise is more important than amount or duration

12 Discipline and Self Discipline Set limits, but avoid power struggles Give choices wherever possible (Freedom within limits; the “V” of love) Set the fewest limits needed, but enforce those you set –Be realistic and consistent (difficult in blended families) –Check signals with your teammate (family huddles) –Try not to overreact (“doomsday limits”) Use “natural consequences” wherever possible –It can be difficult to do, but… –Allows you to be sympathetic & supportive –“The school of experience is a hard one, but…”

13 Discipline and Self Discipline “Take the wind out of the sail”(It’s better than the alternative!) Remember that discipline is not the same as punishment –Punishment only tells you what not to do –Punishment harms the relationship Don’t over-control and don’t get over-involved (confluence and enmeshment) –When do you push? How do you know when to step back? –Don’t value the child only for achieving and producing result

14 Discipline and Self Discipline Expect competence and focus on success –Children live up, or down, to our expectations –Create success experiences, but be like a good coach –Use “I admire” –Catch them doing something –Start with their areas of interest; then branch to yours –Use anticipatory praise

15 Intensities - Overexcitabilities "The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To him... a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create -- so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating.“ Pearl S Buck

16 Dabrowski’s Theory of Positive Disintegration Posed the hypothesis that in order to achieve a state of self- actualization, self- realization, or self- understanding, it would be necessary to experience a state of cognitive and emotional dissonance, or…

17 Overexcitabilities, Personality Traits, and the Gifted Person “Overexcitabilities are inborn intensities indicating a heightened ability to respond to stimuli. Found to a greater degree in creative and gifted individuals, overexcitabilities are expressed in increased sensitivity, awareness, and intensity, and represent a real difference in the fabric of life and quality of experience. Dabrowski identified five areas of intensity-Psychomotor, Sensual, Intellectual, Imaginational, and Emotional. A person may possess one or more of these.” (Lind, 2002)

18 Psychomotor OE “…a heightened excitability of the neuromuscular system. This Psychomotor intensity includes a "capacity for being active and energetic" (Piechowski, 1991, p. 287), love of movement for its own sake, surplus of energy demonstrated by rapid speech, zealous enthusiasm, intense physical activity, and a need for action (Dabrowski & Piechowski, 1977; Piechowski, 1979, 1991).

19 Strategies to help the Psychomotor OE Child Allow time for physical or verbal activity, before, during, and after normal daily and school activities- these individuals love to "do" and need to "do." Build activity and movement into their lives. Provide time for spontaneity and open-ended, freewheeling activities. These tend to favor the needs of a person high in Psychomotor OE. Provide a fidget.

20 Sensual OE “Sensual OE is expressed as a heightened experience of sensual pleasure or displeasure emanating from sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing. “They have an increased and early appreciation of aesthetic pleasures such as music, language, and art, and derive endless delight from tastes, smells, textures, sounds, and sights. But because of this increased sensitivity, they may also feel over stimulated or uncomfortable with sensory input. When emotionally tense, some individuals high in Sensual OE may overeat, go on buying sprees, or seek the physical sensation of being the center of attraction (Dabrowski & Piechowski, 1977; Piechowski, 1979, 1991).

21 Strategies… Whenever possible, create an environment which limits offensive stimuli and provides comfort. Provide time to dwell in the delight of the sensual and to create a soothing environment. Avoid the use of fluorescent lighting in the home Ask for input about clothing, fabrics, toiletries, and cleaning products. Any one or more of these things may cause your child to act out in frustration Choose your battles!!! –Arguments about the seams on socks, the color, style, or fabric of a pair of slacks, or the way “the tag drives me crazy” are not worth the frustration they can cause for a child with sensual OE

22 Intellectual OE “Intellectual OE is demonstrated by a marked need to seek understanding and truth, to gain knowledge, and to analyze and synthesize (Dabrowski & Piechowski, 1977; Piechowski, 1979, 1991). “Other characteristics may include relishing elaborate planning and having remarkably detailed visual recall. People with Intellectual OE frequently love theory, thinking about thinking, and moral thinking. This focus on moral thinking often translates into strong concerns about moral and ethical issues-fairness

23 Strategies… Show how to find the answers to questions. This respects and encourages a person's passion to analyze, synthesize, and seek understanding. Provide or suggest ways for those interested in moral and ethical issues to act upon their If individuals seem critical or too outspoken to others, help them to see how their intent may be perceived as cruel or disrespectful. Carefully monitor the television shows, including the nightly news, your child sees Support your child’s intense curiosity in a topic with trips to the library, yard sales, book stores, museums, talks, etc., but within reason according to the needs of other family members Be understanding and supportive when your child’s interest suddenly shifts to an entirely new topic.

24 Imaginational OE “Imaginational OE reflects a heightened play of the imagination with rich association of images and impressions, frequent use of image and metaphor, facility for invention and fantasy, detailed visualization, and elaborate dreams (Dabrowski & Piechowski, 1977; Piechowski, 1979, 1991). “They find it difficult to stay tuned into a classroom where creativity and imagination are secondary to learning rigid academic curriculum. They may write stories or draw instead of doing seatwork or participating in class discussions, or they may have difficulty completing tasks when some incredible idea sends them off on an imaginative tangent.” (Lind, 2002)

25 Strategies… Help individuals to differentiate between their imagination and the real world by having them place a stop sign in their mental videotape, or write down or draw the factual account before they embellish it. Help people use their imagination to function in the real world and promote learning and productivity. For example, instead of the conventional school organized notebook, have children create their own organizational system. Teach mental discipline with regular study times and regular play times. Stick to them Ask for accommodations that allow your child to show his or her learning in alternative ways Be consistent and insist on accountability –If your child ‘embellishes’ too often and inappropriately, draw their attention to it so they can learn when embellishment is okay and when it is not

26 Emotional OE “Emotional OE is often the first to be noticed by parents. It is reflected in heightened, intense feelings, extremes of complex emotions, identification with others' feelings, and strong affective expression.” (Piechowski, 1991) “Emotionally overexcitable people have a remarkable capacity for deep relationships; they show strong emotional attachments to people, places, and things.” (Dabrowski & Piechowski, 1977).

27 Strategies… Accept all feelings, regardless of intensity. For people who are not highly emotional, this seems particularly odd. They feel that those high in Emotional OE are just being melodramatic. Teach individuals to anticipate physical and emotional responses and prepare for them. Emotionally intense people often don't know when they are becoming so overwrought that they may lose control or may have physical responses to their emotions. Be straight up and honest about your own struggles with emotional OE if you have it

28 Perfectionism and Stress “Parents of perfectionist gifted children may worry that they have created the perfectionism by expecting too much. … Perfectionistic children show an inclination quite early in life to compare themselves against the high standards they set…For these children perfectionism seems to be an inborn temperament.” A child’s inborn tendency towards perfectionism can be reinforced by parents who model perfectionism. As parents, we have great influence over whether our children’s perfectionism will be healthy or unhealthy.

29 Stress Management Some perfectionism is healthy Teach positive self talk Model positive self -talk Confront “stinkin’ thinkin’” Teach stress management skills outside of crisis times Teach Children to ask “is this my problem?” Teach children to say NO. Use humor to induce perspective

30 Idealism, Unhappiness and Depression Gifted children are often frustrated in their idealism and vision of how things should be. High ideals result in feeling of obligation (pressure) to make contributions to the world Sense of time pressures/limitations (can’t fit in everything they want to do). They are exposed to internal and external stresses that could make them more at risk for unhappiness and depression. Some are unhappy and depressed. But on the other hand, gifted children are resilient and often are better at coping.

31 DEPRESSION (EXISTENTIAL) According to James Webb, Ph.D. in A Parent’s Guide to Gifted Children, “This kind of depression is not a single-occurring event; it does not go away after a person experiences it. Once existential issues are brought into conscious thought, they must be continually addressed; you cannot return to a time when concerns did not exist.” (Page 161).

32 Three essential ingredients Help them –feel that someone else truly understands their feelings, –feel that their ideals are shared by others and that they are not alone, and –join efforts with other idealists in ways that can impact the world.”

33 Peer Relationships Needs like minded peers with similar interests. May require several different peer groups May not have many friends, but the friendships they have are long-lasting and often intense Bright children have high expectations; may lack tolerance for others Leadership or bossiness?

34 Strategies Provide structure Avoid over-scheduling Change bossiness into leadership Avoid comparisons Use bibliotherapy

35 Sibling Rivalry Use special time Set limits Foster a safe environment Describe rather than compare Minimize your involvement Don’t take sides Teach sharing and problem solving

36 Tradition Breaking Most traditions fall somewhere between habit and meaningful purpose. Traditions signify our values and provide comfortable predictability, because of this traditions have strong emotions associated with them and we dislike it when they are challenged.

37 Strategies Help your child understand the costs Confronting or leading, avoid the push back Help your child be true to himself Recognize your own beliefs, evaluate your own traditions Keep communication open Be prepared for your child to challenge traditions

38 Lessons From People Who Became Eminent From Cradles of Eminence: Childhoods of More Than 700 Famous Men and Women(Goertzel, Goertzel, Goertzel, & Hanson, 2003) Homes usually were full of books and stimulating conversation Their families valued learning, and the children loved learning As children, most of them disliked school and school teachers

39 People Who Became Eminent Findings from Cradles of Eminence(continued) These children learned to think and express themselves clearly All had learned to be persistent in pursuing their own visions and goals Many had difficult childhoods –Poverty –Broken homes –Physical handicaps –Parental dissatisfaction –Controlling or rejecting parents

40 People Who Became Eminent Findings from Cradles of Eminence(continued) Their parents held strong opinions about controversial subjects Their parents, particularly mothers, were highly involved in the lives of their children, even dominating The parents often were pressured by others to have their children conform to mediocrity

41 Wrapping it up… The goals for your child should be that they have: The capacity to work and to love An ability to set their own priorities, goals, and directions A tolerance for frustration; tolerance of ambiguity; future mindedness Achieved a sense of values for humankind, including honesty and courage Resilience and the ability to relate to others in a give and take way Discovered their learning passion and have a commitment to explore them

42 Remember…. Remember the importance of your relationship Remember that there is a long time between when the seed is planted and the tree bears fruit. Remember that you must take care of yourself. When your battery is run down, you have nothing left to give.

43 Final thought… Try to see difficulty and challenge, at whatever intensity, as an opportunity for DIS- integration and growth. Ask, “What is causing this conflict?” before reacting in anger or frustration

44 Recommended Readings A Parent’s Guide to Gifted Children(Webb, Gore, Amend, & DeVries, 2007) Children: The Challenge(Dreikurs& Soltz, 1991) Cradles of Eminence: Childhoods of More than 700 Famous Men and Women(Goertzel, Goertzel, Goertzel, & Hansen, 2003) Dr. Sylvia Rimm’s, Smart Parenting: How to Raise a Happy, Achieving Child(Rimm, 1996) Guiding the Gifted Child: A Practical Source for Parents and Teachers(Webb, Meckstroth, & Tolan1982) How to Behave So Your Children Will Too(Severe, 2003)

45 Recommended Readings The Optimistic Child(Seligman, Reivich, Jaycox, & Gillham, 1995) The Resilience Factor(Reivich& Shatté, 2002) The Shelter of Each Other: Rebuilding Our Families(Pipher, 1995) Siblings without Rivalry(Fabert& Mazlish, 1998) Smart Boys: Talent, Manhood, and the Search for Meaning(Kerr & Cohn, 2001) Smart Girls: A New Psychology of Girls, Women, and Giftedness.(Kerr, 1997)

46 Web resources SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted) NAGC (For parents) - Council of Exceptional Children Gifted Talented and Gifted Division HOAGIES Gifted Education Page (for parents)


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