So… it has been quite a while since my last blog post. The new decade presented many obstacles between me and my writing, including a move to a new house, a death in the family, the flu, oh- and now a pandemic. As a person who consistently takes on too much, finding time to write for fun sometimes feels impossible- especially, it seems, in 2020.
However, what I am writing today is important because there are some of you out there with gifted children who are freaking out. Yep, freaking- I used the F word and I mean every bit of it. When a morning run is interrupted by no less than 2 panicked phone calls and 3 texts by an 11-year-old who is receiving news about the latest coronavirus update- you know that things are getting real. The problem is- we can’t keep them in the dark about this one. Our kids are highly aware of the seriousness of this pandemic. Stores are low on necessities, favorite parks are closed, sports are cancelled, you can only take out from restaurants, no movie theaters, no beach parking, and most importantly- SCHOOLS ARE CLOSED!
For some kids, this is big- but not Earth shattering. They are looking at it like a long vacation with a few hiccups and less toilet paper. This may be the case with your gifted child. They could be that wonderful balance of laid back and brilliant without a care in the world (I have one of those too). If this is the case with your child- this blog post is not for you, but I would love for you to keep reading to understand the behavior of other gifted kids.
For parents of gifted kids who are freaking out, I don’t have a 100% cure- but I can help you better understand their feelings and behavior. In the world of giftedness, there are multiple lists of common characteristics that many gifted children share which include being good problem solvers, creative and/or critical thinkers, natural leaders, etc. In addition to the different characteristics that are typically seen in academic settings, there are also affective characteristics that are seen in social/emotional settings and situations.
Here are some of these characteristics and how they might be affected by the coronavirus pandemic:
Idealism and Sense of Justice– Your child might be frustrated with the politics of the coronavirus and have concerns about how our country and/or other countries in the world are handling medical services, quarantines, social distancing, or job loss.
Unusual Emotional Depth and Intensity– Your child may recognize the emotional effects of the virus and see the potential for negative chain reactions. They may show deep empathy for those affected by the virus as though they are suffering right there with them.
High Expectations of Self and Others & Advanced Levels of Moral Judgement– I put these together because the behaviors of each go hand in hand. Your child might be taking the CDC and coronavirus precautions very seriously. This could include obsessively washing their hands and refusing to go within 6 feet of anyone. They could get very upset when others are not following the same guidelines and might be outwardly intolerant to those not abiding the “rules” (think- kids who cough excessively and act like they can’t breathe when they see someone smoking). They could be very upset over the greediness of people buying all the toilet paper or other necessities. It is important that we remind our kids that we need to just assume that everyone is doing their best, but not everyone’s best looks the same.
Strong Need for Consistency Between Abstract Values and Human Behavior– You child might be upset or confused as to why people are acting the way that they are. The typical social norms and dynamics are completely different right now with changes in social behavior like no handshakes or hugging, it can be upsetting to not have the usual form of connectiveness.
If your gifted child has been exhibiting any of these behaviors, the best thing we can do is to listen. Don’t shut them up or tell them not to worry. Hear their concerns, let them know they are heard, and help guide them to ways they can process what is happening. One strategy is to have them document their day to day coronavirus experience in some way- drawing a daily picture, a journal, a video diary, writing a story, creating a timeline, etc. It is important to let them know that this is history and their documentation will be a part of that.
In the cases of our extreme worriers, starting a daily gratitude practice is a great place to start. Giving thanks for the coronavirus blessings in disguise could be a good way to see this situation from a different perspective. You can also use a strategy that is called “possibility vs. probability” where you hear out all the “what if” worries and decide together if they are possible and then if they are probable. This helps your child see that you are taking their worries seriously and analyzing them together.
I hope that this blog post either makes you grateful you have a laid back child, helps you feel less alone with having a worrying child, and/or provided you with some helpful strategies to deal with this difficult and unusual time in your child’s life. As always, if you ever need to talk about your specific child’s needs, please reach out- I am here as your gifted consultant and your child’s advocate.
Thank you Erin, as always she provides us with wonderful humor and insight. I will be sending out formal communication soon. In the meantime I have set up virtual hours and a office phone. Please do not hesitate to contact me for any reason.
VIRTUAL LEARNING OFFICE PHONE #: (904) 325-6577
VIRTUAL OFFICE HOURS M.W.F 7:30-2:30 ~ T.Th 7:30-12:30/5:00-7:00