Shoreline Hi Cap Parent Association
“Parenting the Gifted Worrier”
October 25, 2018
There were 55 attendees at our first event for the school year. Mary Kate Horwood (elementary co-leader) updated the group on the new name of our organization (Shoreline Hi Cap Parent Association), encouraged parents to become active in our organization through these volunteer opportunities, and introduced co-leaders Megan Menis (elementary), Missy Liu, Linda Tsai (secondary), and Jen Small (elementary--unable to attend). Also present were parent representatives from other schools: Sandy VonHeeder (Kellogg), Katie Schempp (Echo Lake), Susan Campbell (Cascade K-8) and Lanaya Waldron (Briarcrest). This spring we will have a 10-week parent series aimed at parenting the highly capable child. This is a discussion group which will be guided by trained facilitators weekly -- to share ideas, strategies and support in a relaxed setting. This series in Shoreline will begin on Thursday, February 28, 2019, and will conclude on Thursday, May 9. To register visit this page.
Our guest speaker was Denise Anderson, Vice President of the NW Gifted Child Association and a certified SENG Model Parent Group (SMPG) facilitator. Her website is www.discoverbetteroptions.com
Ms. Anderson started with an overview about what the word “giftedness” means and defines it as “asynchronous development in which advances cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm.” Because of these differences, gifted kids can exhibit more anxiety than others.
She also spoke about other trends such as:
- Overexcitabilities (OEs) which could be intellectual, emotional, imaginational, psychomotor and sensual. To see if any of these sound familiar check out this online questionnaire.
- Theory of Positive Disintegration (TPD) which some gifted kids OEs lend to advanced moral development
Ms. Anderson recommended this book: “Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children and Adults: Adhd, Bipolar, Ocd, Asperger's, Depression, and Other Disorders” (2nd Edition)
by James Webb et al. Link: http://a.co/d/4HcLgc7
- Perfectionism which could be high expectations of self, high expectations of others, fear of failure, judge self by what they cannot do, failure to turn in school work for fear of exposing an imperfection, fear that imperfections means that they are not highly capable
Ms. Anderson gave a tip for parents who have kids with perfectionistic tendencies: pose these questions to them “Is it good enough?”, “In the long run, will it matter?”, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?”
Ms. Anderson recommended this book: “A Parent's Guide to Gifted Children” by James T. Webb et al.
The symptoms of anxiety were discussed next, such as: sweating, vomiting, palpitations, avoidance, yelling, repetition, mind-racing, headaches, anger, nightmares, phobias, chills, discomfort, worry, tired, perfectionism, clinging, etc. Ms. Anderson recommended to get to know how you feel when you are anxious as well as how your child feels. Accept their emotions whether they are positive or negative. Listen to them when they speak. They want to be heard.
Ms. Anderson recommended this book: “Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child The Heart of Parenting” by Ph.D. John Gottman et al. Link: http://a.co/d/6zaaYXZ
Recognize your child’s emotions by doing emotion coaching – be aware of your own and your child’s positive and negative emotions, consider your child’s expressed feelings as a chance to get closer to your child by helping them learn emotions. Try to “name it to tame it” – name the emotion you are seeing (anger, sadness, frustration) so they learn what it’s called and they see that you care. We discussed that the tone of voice and how you say it is important. Another way to relate about emotions is by asking them to draw, write or do something with their hands to communicate their feelings. Sometimes it’s hard to verbalize a feeling. These two journals between moms and kids were recommended: “Just Between Us: Mother & Daughter: A No-Stress, No-Rules Journal” by Meredith Jacobs et al. Link: http://a.co/d/fvMkDG0 and “Mother/Son Pass Back-and-Forth Journal” by Shannon Foster et al. Link: http://a.co/d/0dmQMFF
Ms. Anderson recommended this book: “The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind” by Daniel J. Siegel et al. Link: http://a.co/d/fUNrJMu
In this book, Siegel explains the under developed pre-frontal cortex (or emotional brain) fires first when a child is emotional this making it difficult to be logical. The key is to try to calm down before getting emotional. When your child is emotional, get down on their level, and let them know you understand their emotions (even if you don’t agree with that emotion). Let them know you hear them.
Unhelpful thoughts were the next topic. These are the illogical or unreasonable beliefs that we all have that contribute to anxiety and stress. For example, we might be a perfectionist and think “I must do this perfectly” but a healthier perspective would be “I’ll try my best.” Talk to your child about your own personal worries so they can hear you work through your stress and emotions.
Start to develop helpful replacement thoughts such as:
- Talk with your child when you are both calm about their worries. Just listen, don’t try to solve the problem
- Ask what stories they tell themselves and what they would prefer the story to be?
- Consider a specific “worry time” when kids can come to you at a specific time
- Consider a worry jar or journal
- Teach your child to recognize the difference between their problems and others
- Discuss stressful situations in books or movies (the movie “Inside Out” is a great one)
- Share stories from your own experiences as a child and what you did to make things better
Encourage a growth mindset by reading these adult and child books:
“Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” by Carol S. Dweck Link: http://a.co/d/5vR7GYY
“How They Choked: Failures, Flops, and Flaws of the Awfully Famous” by Georgia Bragg et al. Link: http://a.co/d/iAZD9Hk
“Famous Fails!: Mighty Mistakes, Mega Mishaps, & How a Mess Can Lead to Success!” by Crispin Boyer Link: http://a.co/d/3qWmJI0
“Famous Failures: Hundreds of Hot Shots Who Got Rejected, Flunked Out, Worked Lousy Jobs, Goofed Up, or Did Time in Jail Before Achieving Phenomenal Success” by Joey Green Link: http://a.co/d/eJ81jHZ
“The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes” by Mark Pett et al. Link: http://a.co/d/1KHueXG
“Beautiful Oops!” by Barney Saltzberg Link: http://a.co/d/aqnKazv
Ms. Anderson recommended the website www.anxietycanada.com for tools and apps to help work on getting better with anxiety. These are for both adults and kids.
We discussed kids with strong perfectionist tendencies spending too much time on homework and parents trying to encourage them to wrap it up and how the kid will feel that the parent doesn’t value their work. Tips were to say “Do your best in the time available” instead of do your homework until it’s perfect. Suggest that “it’s good enough” and define the importance of the task. Also consider being ok with discussing with your child’s teacher their perfectionism and being ok with stepping it down a notch.
Next unhelpful behaviors were discussed such as: avoidance, procrastination, lying, stubbornness, sarcasm, tantrums, etc. Try to replace unhelpful behavior with more helpful behavior like taking a break to give your body time to calm down, limit the number activities, teach and practice problem solving, teach and practice taking a large task and breaking it down into smaller pieces and celebrate the success of each step, make a plan and focus on following the plan.
A discussion started about how gifted kids with racing minds often have difficulties falling asleep. The parents helped brainstorm some tips such as:
- Deep breathing (could blow bubbles or a windmill)
- Try meditation, even for a short amount of time (Headspace is great app to start with)
- Listen to classical music or other soothing sounds
- ASMR videos on youtube (like a brain massage by visual or acoustic stimuli)
- Body scan (squeeze different parts of your body to help promote relaxation)
- Ask them what helps them relax
- Take melatonin or magnesium powder
Other relaxation techniques were discussed. Ms. Anderson showed the group her relaxation tool kit to use with your child when they feel overwhelmed. It included items such as something that smells good, something with a nice texture (tactile toys, play dough, etc.), something to engages taste (gum, mints), something pretty to look at (photo, scenic image) and something to listen to. The goal is to use these items when your child needs to calm down. Discuss what would be best with them when they are calm.
Environmental impacts can also trigger anxiety in kids. She suggested to tune into our own past trauma, unhelpful family communication patterns/behaviors and try to break the cycle. This book was also recommended: “Extraordinary Relationships: A New Way of Thinking about Human Interactions” Second Edition by Roberta M. Gilbert et al. Link: http://a.co/d/6mb33Su
During the question-and-answer section of the evening, a question was posed about getting kids motivated. A recommendation was made to the group: listen to the Tilt Parenting podcast episode #124 highlighting Seth Perler’s work regarding motivation and executive function.
The event ended at 8:30 p.m.
10/25/18 – Parenting the Gifted Worrier