Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted
www.sengifted.org is a wonderful website for many resources
offered to parents raising gifted children and recommended by
Boulder Valley Gifted & Talented
What do gifted and twice-exceptional (2e) children have in common? The bulk of my private practice is focused on the gifted or 2e population of children and teens. For clarification, twice-exceptional simply means a child posesses both giftedness and a disbility, which could include a learning disability, dyslexia or an attention difference, for example. Some 2e's are gifted, and also live with high-functioning Austism, Asperger's Syndrome, AD/HD, Bipolar and Oppositional Defiant Disorder, to name a few.
GIFTED: I see gifted children presenting on a spectrum somewhat similar to the attention or autistic spectrum that spans far and includes much variation, individuality and complexity. In some ways it is the other side of the same coin. There are many different types of giftedness: much is measureable, some artistic giftedness perhaps less measurable. There is visual & spacial giftedness, gifted children with supreme auditory processing and expressive language. There is the gifted tween who has a disability in expressive language. There is the Asperger's teen who excels in chemistry but is socially isolated; a gifted middle schooler who has the ability to design 3D software, but cannot express his feelings or is physically clumsy. The classic nerd, the child the bully picks on; or the shy bright girl who has no friends. The gifted boy who may also come from divorce, and struggles with anxiety and depression.
I have seen each and every one of these case examples in my professional experience. The list goes on, especially when we take into account the high level cognitive functioning combined very often with an on-track developing child combined with a mood, attention or autism spectrum disorder. Or a gifted child who is adopted, and athough she has a good and loving adoptive family, she struggles with a deep feeling of isolation, abandonment and feeling different or afraid.
A Parent's Guide to Raising Gifted Children is a very good book.
Waldorf View: What is the Nine Year Change?
The 9th year of life is a critical turning point in the development of the child. Wonderful and great changes begin to occur at around the age of nine*. A child begins to withdraw within to an extent, and also become much more curious about the world around him/her and with more precision and intellect. What is happening is the blossoming of a very curious and inquisitive phase. "At this age an intelligent child can gaze long and silently at an adult/parent/teacher with the unspoken question as to what kind of person this adult really is. The unconscious feeling can arise in the child that the adult has been weighed up and a child is found wanting. In such a situation the child's behavior alters from one moment to the next. All respect has vanished" (paraphrased from Education Towards Freedom)
?The child begins to recognize that s/he may be feeling different about something than a sibling or parent, or peers. The child becomes aware of "outsiders" in a more intimate and emotional way. The child comes to see that where Mommy likes the taste of fish, s/he doesn't. S/he may also begin to watch the parents behavior, decision making and attitudes much more closely and with a bit of judgment. This phase has been described as a second ego experience. The child's individual feeling life begins to awaken. Gudrun Burkhard, in her book Taking Charge: Your Life Patterns and Their Meaning says: "It is important that the child's feeling life should find fertile ground in which to grow. Such fertile soil can be provided by art or religion, but above all by loving authority which comes from parents and teachers." Social and emotional changes abound along with the change in hormones starting earlier and earlier in our culture.??Rudolf Steiner describes what is happening at this time as "a process of emancipation with consequences of greater import than we often realize." It is this change in their relationship to the environment that causes so many children of this age to go through a period of alienation or isolation and 'acting out'. In addition, the cognition and thinking processes to better make sense of his/her world is on the rise.
*A note to parents of special needs children (Uniquely Brilliant!). I find this ‘Nine Year Change’ to occur later, into years 10-11. With all children, the change described above can generally occur between the ages of 8-10 and not simply in year Nine. LT