I am new to this forum but not new to the gifted scene. My daughter is 7 and was assessed at 4 as being in the 99.99+ %tile. She has always been extremely smart and done everything very early. She is the eldest of 4 girls, all whom are gifted too but as we all know everyone has different strengths and not all are the same. I have always made individual time for each child as I can understand how hard it is to have to share your parents after growing up in a big family.
My daughter is across the board, it seems everything she picks up she masters, although she has some difficulties with physical things. The problems that we are facing lately as a family is that she *thinks* she is better than EVERYONE at everything and is all in all pretty selfish. This is despite our best parenting efforts her whole life instilling kindness and setting good examples, it seems that this isnt something she has 'got'. She CAN be kind, she CAN be thoughtful, but not very often. It seems to be getting worse, it is affecting her siblings who all think that they are dumb because that is what she tells them, or she tells them that she can do it better. This is behaviour we jump on pretty quickly but I am not her shadow and of course she can say these things when noone is around eg when playing outside etc. She also has a need to always be first and always win at games, we mix it up and with games sometimes she does get the first turn and others she doesnt, we have always done this to be fair (with 4 children fairness and kindness are big values we enforce alot), she gets very upset, throws the game, packs a sulky when she loses the game, but extremely cocky when winning, it turns out terribly if she is winning most of the game and then one magical stroke of luck puts one of her sisters in the lead LOL.
We are also having an issue, my eldest two are close in age and have similar friends. I have always thought it is important for them to have their own friends and allowed them to do that but also that its ok to have friends that are both of theirs. They have this one friend who is so lovely and wants to be both their friend, she comes over and wants to play with both of them but as she was miss 7's friend first she has 'claimed' her and packs a sad if the friend plays with her younger sister (who is only slightly younger) this sparks an argument infront of said friend about whos friend she is, making the friend feel uncomfortable. It makes me feel terrible, I try really hard to sort out the quarrel, talk about it with my daughter but nothing has worked. I really need to knock this on the head, friends are not possessions and they have feelings and choices they can make too, if they chose to play with both girls, why can't they all play together??
Please help me, I am sure many of you have been through similar things with your children. I feel like these behaviours are becoming more obvious and frequent as she is getting older.
Here's some thoughts that helped in our family. Since your daughter is very bright, it will be especially important to maintain the upper hand in discipline, or, as you see, she will run rough-shod over everyone and get the mistaken impression that it's her right to do so.
So, create a board--dry erase works well--that is big enough to write down specific Do's and Don'ts/rules, not just for her, but for the other kids too. Also write down very specific consequences for disobeying the rules, and ALSO, rewards for getting it right.
When a rule is broken, no arguing, no negotiations, just the already established and agreed upon consequences.
I learned about his method from a book by Monty Roberts--he and his wife raised 3 kids plus 47 foster kids! Look him up on the internet for more about his method of disciplining kids effectively and with dignity.
This is surprisingly common amongst the gifted, particularly the verbally able. Betty's advice is fabulous and should help a lot.
Keep in mind that intelligence alone is insufficient for making good solid decisions - you also need life experince and an understanding of why showing pro-social skills is a good idea. However gifted a youngster is they are still a very young person and 7 short years just isn't long enough to accumulate all the life experince and skill sets required.
Don't get sucked in by great verbal skills - stick to your guns as a parent [you DO still know better and ARE still in charge for a few more years yet]. As a rule of thumb have a benevolent dictatorship for pre-teens [you set the parameters and provide choices within those] and move to apprentice adulthood model for teens [ begin negotions around choices and decisions more].
Often very bright youngsters can inadvertently pursuade people that they should have more control than is always a good long term idea. It can then be more difficult for them to learn to deal positively with fruatration [we all have to learn this sometime or another] and to bother with other people's "lesser" opinions when you see yourself as more clever than them.
You could try letting her know that there is an earnable reward for showing the behaviours you are keen on seeing [ being thoughtful to others, sharing and using inclusive leadership skills] and then praising and or rewarding her specifically for each occassion you see this happen. That doesn't mean there should be no consequences for mis-behaviour - but keep the consequences separate from the rewards for good behaviour and avoid one sliding scale of earnings and fines for both.
It might be worth checking that she feels valued for all the other strengths she has and is not just seeing herself as intelligent and academically valuable only. Focus on her other abilities [sports, music, art, positive leadership, making friends, watching out for others who need help etc]. Ask her to find the strengths in her siblings and to try to let them know she can see this in them and values it.
Thank you both for all that! i have taken it on board and will write up the rules nice and clear so that the kids can all see them. We have rules but they aren't actually written up anywhere and perhaps having that will work as a subtle visual reminder of them.
I can see what you are saying Alison about being sucked in by their verbal skills, they seem to be able to talk their way out of many things, usually I am onto it but occasionally I can see that I get sucked in.
I am still worried about having her friend over, I have talked about the friend thing with her and suggested that her and her friend have some time to play by themselves BUT if her friend wants to play with her and her younger sister then its important that they try and find something to do together otherwise her friend will feel sad. I can totally see why she is upset that her friend likes her little sister but I think she needs to learn that her friend isnt HER possession. Have tried to have some joint playdates, so miss 7 has her friend over and miss 6 has hers over but it just hasnt worked out time wise for the other parents, but I will keep trying with that.
I have a daughter exactly the same, although she is nearly 9 now, with the same issues - argumentative, unco-operative, needing to win, joint friends with her younger sister an 'all!
Just wanted to tell you that her behaviour has improved since she was 7, and to keep up the reward for good behaviour, consequences for bad behaviour structure because it does work. I use computer time/loss of computer time as her reward/loss as she is obsessed with Moshi monsters!
With the friend thing, I have found the easiest thing to do (which works for us, but may not for you) is to send my youngest daughter away on a playdate with another friend when the joint friend comes over to us. Then when youngest comes home, they all have a quick play together, before joint friend goes home. That seems to keep everyone mostly happy - and I think thats all you can ask really!
It is certainly challenging at times, and I am hoping the behaviour thing will improve the older she gets. I certainly am having less and less issues with her! So good luck!
You know, as a grandmother, I look back and wish I had done a lot less stressing about what I believed was "wrong" with my kids and spent a lot more time actually enjoying the good stuff.
With my grandson (who lives with me), I focused more on 'creating an alliance' where we are infact "partners in his growth and development" - this is my counter-reaction to what I regard to be an irrational burden of responsibility being thrust upon parents to turn each and every child into a "golden child".
I would be inclined to focus on strengthening the "desired behaviours" that are evident occassionally with a child like that and try and minimise the risk of modelling the behaviour that is not desired (especially with GT children) and actively seek opportunities that will enable the child to actually USE the more 'rigid' traits in a useful and purposeful way (redirection).
The strengths of the gifted often exhibit themselves in problematic ways when there is little opportunity to "exercise" them in a constructive way - eg those VERY strong in problem solving often create all manner of complex "problems"for themselves (and others) when there is insufficient opportunity to challenge their problem solving skills in every day life - and also often have a huge sense of being treated unjustly when punished for the same!
The question about play dates and sharing is also a common hassel for parents. Try planning ahead; have a joint activity or two planned ahead of time. Decide on what is shared toys etc and what isn't [if it isn't maybe put it away somewhere]. Decide on the rules for sibling participation, and maybe role play treating a guest well verses treating them as a possession. You and your husband might even ham up a role play yourselves to get this message across - if you are game.
You might need to remind your children that for some people visiting others means visiting all of them - inclusively, and for other people it can mean visiting only the person they intended to see, but that both views are valid. Target and reward inclusive behaviours and sum up how things went after the playdate in terms of what went well and what ONE thing could go differently next time.
Usually play dates go well if the time is reasonably well planned and kept relatively short until kids skills have develoepd to a point where generally things go well for almsot all the play dates.
Best of luck with the play dates. - have your own reward put aside for afterwards!
Sharon - just had to say ha ha, I also use No Moshi Monsters as our consequence, its the only thing that works.
I just wanted to add my little bit - in setting up your "rules" I found it very helpful to actually get the kids to help. All schools I know run a class treaty so your girl should be familiar with it. Helps a lot with the buyin especially when you ask them what their consequence should be.
Also, I set up a consequence for myself as well - that really impressed the kids. So, if I "broke" one of the rules, I would not watch one of my favourite tv programmes for example. Makes it then more about "how we all like to behave in our house".
We actually only have two rules (and then a lot of examples) - something a foster care friend taught me - Kind to each other and Kind to our things. It really covers just about everything!!!