Any sage words of wisdom will be appreciated here. My 8 yo daughter (mildly intellectually gifted but more importantly hugely sensitive in different areas) has always been highly sensitive but is now reaching new levels of anger with it. She translates feeling overwhelmed / stressed / anxious / upset etc into rage and whoever (in the family, never happens at school) is closest to her at that moment really cops verbal and increasingly physical attacks. She often also says she is starving hungry at these times which to me points to adrenlin over-load making her tummy feel tight. After a terrible day yesterday (which was kicked off by the elephant thing and the fact I was out at a meeting) we were talking and she says she finds rage empowering - which on one hand is understandable but as a strategy for managing sensitivity it sucks!
Any thoughts, anything, appreciated. We have been working with issues around sensivity for years and it just seems that nothing is working that well, for the long term. Doesn't help that both myself and husband are highly sensitive also, plus our son, and we all deal with it in different ways, none of these ways particularly great either.
Thanks in advance,
I will watch this thread with interest. My daughter is 10 and we have the same difficulties although she is not able to give any reason why. We are in Ch-Ch and has become more and more noticeable and an issue since the earthquakes. Don't know if it is related as she seems ok in very other sense with the earthquakes. Considering getting some earthquake related counselling and seeing if anything comes out of that.
Would love some advice on how to cope and what strategies to teach my DD.
We have been dealing with this too with DS10. He is HG. I think it stems from a few things.. I am no expert- but here is my HO :)
When they are not intellectually challenged enough they tend to look for ways in which to act out or get out their mental frustration. Academic work is like exercise for a gifted child. If they do not do enough - or are not adequately challenged mentally, they will find it difficult to concentrate, difficult to keep their emotions in check and difficult to express themselves without anger and frustration.
A quote I found the other day ...
..." gifted kids have what Debrowski called an "intellectual supersensitivity" in the 1950's. Basically, this means that gifted kids crave, and need intellectual stimulation like they need food, water and sleep. If they don't get it, they become behavior problems, failures to achieve, delinquent (>60% of the males in juvie have IQ's >130!) or sick (depressed, anxious, etc.)"
It certainly rings true for us. Also, we have noticed that changes to his routine that he was not expecting tend to throw him.. it is less obvious at the start but when he does not know what to expect he gets wound up. He recently had a substitute teacher for a few weeks, and the school did nto tell us this would be happening. He was completely thrown. And both him and the family suffered - majorly.
Clear and concise boundaries and consequences also tend to work best for us. It is STILL a huge struggle- but when he know what to expect things do go better.
Some mroe reading I found on the topic...
The intense sensitivity and internal responsiveness characterizing many highly gifted individuals can intensify reactions to the ordinary problems of growing up. By tuning in to a wide range of social cues during social interaction, a highly sensitive gifted child may perceive social rejection where it is not intended. Furthermore, sensitivity to society's injustice and hypocrisy leads many highly gifted children to feel despair and cynicism at very young ages.
"Although heightened sensitivity to environmental and social cues may be a normal response for gifted children, Silverman (1983) points out that they may perceive their own intense inner experiences as evidence that something is wrong with them. Other children may ridicule a gifted child for reacting strongly to an apparently trivial incident, thereby increasing the child's feeling of being odd. Like perfectionism, intense sensitivity can have positive or negative effects, depending on the individual response."
Thanks for that. I honestly hadn't considered lack of intellectual stimulation as a source of stress but this is entirely possible. I have to say though that I'm not so concerned with sources of the stress (as these are fairly predictable and have been the same as since she was a baby unfortunately, and definitely fit with OE / high sensitivity stuff) but I'm interested to know if anyone has any advice on how to prevent major outbursts (8 yo versions of tantrums) and also how to manage "consequences" for a highly sensitive child. I find that it feels somehow wrong for me to be 'babying' her out of her tantrums - ie just riding it out - (again, just like when she was a tiny wee toddler), but I'm wondering if this is really the only 'humane' option for her... but in the mean time I get really put through the wringer being on the receiving end of a massive tantie!
So what do you do with a big kid's tantie?
'Time out' etc not really a viable option and she finds many things about this alarming and/or frightening so these add to her stress and sense of not coping, rather than trying to reduce it.
Just found a great book on meditation which she has found really useful and she esp. likes the final quote which is something along the lines of you can't prevent the waves, but you can learn to surf them.
Again, thanks in advance
I have a 6 year old with the same issue. She is hungry all the time, is super sensitive, has anxiety issues which present as rage. It is hard work isn't it!
Something we are working on with miss 6 is strategies other than rage in dealing with her anxieties, and how empowering it can be to get control of these feelings without raging out at us. She is taking it on board slowly, but I can see she is trying. We have always had issues with her anger and rage, since she was tiny and have failed until now to find things that work. Having her own cool down space is helpful, her room is good for this. She will sometimes take herself there and calm down. She is becoming more and more successful at managing her rages, for example at the mall the other day she had a meltdown and started 'raging' lashing at me and her siblings, we stepped away and I said a few things such as 'I understand how your feeling but this is not an appropriate way of displaying that emotion' I left it at that and her siblings and I walked ahead of her (and because she was raging we could hear that she was following hehe), by the time we got to the car the rage had become a grump and then she asked if she could please have her lunchbox from her bag, I gave it to her, she ate her apple and by the time we were driving out of the carpark she had calmed completely and was chatting about her day (still had tears on her cheeks!)....this is massive progress for us, it has taken hard work and just 6 months ago a rage like that would have continued all the way home and half way through the afternoon! It's probably not helpful, but just thought I'd share that it's possible to work through it, but it's hard work and it's ok to seek professional help if you think that would be beneficial, it could be really helpful.
Another thing that works for my son is yoga, he is younger but is learning yoga at kindy and it seems when he feels like he is getting out of control or upset or angry he will ask me to help him with his yoga and it really works with him, but he isn't really a 'rager' like miss 6, and we did try this with her and it never worked.
As adults, we tend to associate stress with burn-out (known as 'eustress', but the other extreme is 'rust out', which produces the same types of behaviors. Gifted children who lack challenge often experience this 'rust out' type of stress ('distress'). One way this can show itself is in rage outbursts. Stomach pain often accompanies this as the abdominal muscles contract in spasm in response to adenalin bursts. My son went through this around age 7. The only thing I found worked for him was to place my hand on his stomach (once he had calmed down enough to allow this) and just sit with him until he 'came back' from the outburst. I guess the effect literally centred him. He eventually outgrew the rage outbursts, but it was a hard couple of years.
A friend suggested this. When daughter was upset, she gave her the bag of mini-marshmallows and sent her to her room to a full length mirror. Child would talk, holler, and throw the marshmallows at herself in the mirror. She would quickly change from tears and frustration to giggles. She was encouraged to say whatever she liked to herself in the mirror, but was not allowed to say mean things to the family. Worked very well for them!
Thanks for all this :) It's really good to hear of other people who are / have been in same position and that this isn't imminent doom for my wee girl and our family. Love the marshmallow idea but I think my girl would scoff the lot! It's also nice to hear other people taking the gentle route rather than punitive or consequences (which seems to be the prevailing parenting advice for 8 y/olds and their tantrums!)
Before now I'd never heard about other children feeling their stress (etc) as hunger so I was interested to hear that also and relived that it's not just my girl. Again, thank you :)
Just found Elaine Aron's book on highly sensitive children and cried my way through the first couple of chapters, and just found her website also: www.hsperson.com - lots of explore and fingers crossed.
Just wish I had a magic wand...
I'm just about to go and see a phycolgist regarding my son (gifted, 6) - very similar issues with added anxiety (which seems to be coming from school). It hadn't crossed my mind that lack of mental challenge could be the problem - I know he isn't getting this at school, but I was thinking of fixing the anxiety issues before I headed down that track with the school - maybe I do it the other way around! Im so glad to hear that there are other children with angry issues - my son never had tantrums as a little one, they have only really started late last year but are getting worse each week - and the tummy pains that go with them. Thanks everyone for being so open and honest - it has helped me A LOT to know we aren't alone and my son isn't becoming some kind of monster (lol) :)
here are a few more cents, from a 31yo female prone to, er, sudden irritability.
As a child I would get into physical fights regularly, be generally ill tempered and sulky.
So far covered:
1. stress from change
2. stress due to boredom
I would add:
3. having a low blood sugar. Having a "funny tummy" may actually precede a rage episode, rather than being a side effect of it. When I get low blood sugar I am susceptible to attacks of irritability, feel generally despondent and physically wobbly. This is different from diabetes. Regular, substantial food intake helps.
4. having the train of one's thoughts or "headspace" interrupted. For some people, being interrupted is extremely galling, almost a physical attack, and this can provoke an outburst. Children are perhaps less aware of this in themselves (as it is a fairly complex notion). Children are also more at the mercy of others, who boss, nag, ask, lecture, describe and demand almost constantly. Children are taken to many environments eg shops, school, which can be very chaotic and over-stimulating; these environments are also beyond their control.
ok, so what to do... hm.
Try food as a preventative measure.
Make sure there is plenty of intellectual stimulation available.
When dealing with the child, speak fewer and simpler words (avoiding the nag factor).
Reassure the child that you will tell them about upcoming events, changes to schedules and so on, when you know about them... in other words, model the fact that you do not know everything in the future, and demonstrate how you deal with uncertainty in your own life. eg. I am going to the beach with ...., his friend might come too and that would be fun. I will take a .... in case it gets cold. ..... is going to pick me up from the beach, but I will take money for the bus, in case they change their plans or I want to come home early.
Teach the child more acceptable expressions of rage, such as jumping, stamping, fist-shaking and the like. Although these sound dramatic and silly, they are better than hitting others and smashing up the house. Instead of screaming, choose a nonsense word to repeat over and over ("nummo!" "poddle!"). The silliness can diffuse the anger aspect, and spares other people's ears from all the shrieking. Silliness is good and should be promoted whenever possible.
One last idea, and often overlooked for girls, is sport.
See if your child gets into a particular sport (individual or team doesn't matter).
Sports give opportunity for plenty of focus, no interruption, vigorous activity, and controlled rage as there is competition but with plenty of rules. Although giving your grumpy child a baseball bat or letting them loose in the wrestling ring may seem like a bad idea, this is one area in which rage is indeed empowering.
thanks for your very insightful post, lots to think on. What I particularly liked was what you were saying about the low blood sugar thing, this has always been a biggie for me - I have to eat every three hours or get very very irritable and shakey, my niece actually posted something on FB that made me laugh the other day, she said she had to leave a lecture because she was getting HANGRY, so hungry that she was angry!!! lol, that so sums it up:)
Hi again and THANKS again!!!
Jay your insights were great to read, thanks. My husband eats constantly and I wonder if my daughter has the same constitution - needing food often - but she is pretty big. Agree silliness is great :) And thank goodness netball season is starting again!
Huge thanks - I really do feel far less powerless about the whole situation.
Me likewise, I have been reading 'Living with Intensity' and recognise the ideas expressed in HG Mum's post. But there weeks ago they wold have been new to me. I have found the new information both sobering and enlightening. A few weeks back my son late in the evening had a huge session of"its all too much, expectations left right and center, and its only going to get worse, life will get harder and harder and will just go on and on and on.. (he's just started intermediate so lots of new pressures on him), and I quoted something to him form the above mentioned book. I said " you know this book talk about children like you, who the future for them is very real - so you end up carrying this huge weight on your shoulders". With that he literally flopped back on the sofa and went to sleep! The weight just lifted right off him in an instant. I felt really pleased that I had the right words, in the past I wold have absorbed all his worries and felt helpless (bec yes, life does get harder and go on an on!). Its a matter of being one step ahead, and understanding what your child is going through and being empathetic instead of 'worrying like hell that there happiness is at risk, is the most important thing we can do. A little off-topic with trantrums sorry, but what else comes to mind about them is having a punch bag hanging somewhere. I have one, but sdaly is not hanging at the moment!
My 9 nearly 10 year old son is the same. Hyper sensitive in so many ways, physically, emotionally. He says he feels anxious all the time and down, like the weight of the world is on his shoulders. He is so contemplative about everything and the Living with Intensity quotes were so spot on. I've bought the book off trade me just now, so thank you for that recommendation, I look forward to receiving it.
I have been fretting this week as my sensitive gifted boy despairingly told me he felt so awful that he thought he should be here, that it'd be less stressful if he wasn't around. We have a good rapport so we've done lots of talking and now he's hooked in to the school counsellor, and we need more contact with the Gifted Association groups I think. Looking into One Day School, and University on Wheels. I just want him to be happy. It's hard to be an optimist and relaxed person and see your child so intense and stressed so much. It's heartbreaking. God and to think teenagehood is still to come.
I want to build his resilience, would love some thoughts on how.
I have this as an adult. It wasn't until DS also had anger outbursts, sore tummy and uncontrollable fits of rage that I realised it wasn't "that time of the month" for me that was causing these problems, as any scratchyness is usually blamed on. My logical brain would be calmly telling me "You're over-reacting, stop yelling, it's not that bad, step out of the room and take a breath" but my emotional reactive brain didn't listen to the internal dialogue and instead ranted and raved until I wore myself out, and my poor kids too.
Our family went gluten free (GF) for three months and we noticed a slow calming of DS. He ate gluten at a birthday party and spent the next three days raging. We had almost forgotten how bad it was. Then I ate gluten and I was yelling at the slightest thing and unable to control my reactions. Gluten has different effects on different people. My son and I it seems to block communication between our thinking and reactive brain. DD it stunts her growth and gives her runny poos.
Other gluten free people I have spoken with say going GF made huge differences too. Within a month, one boy's co-ordination greatly improved he could kick a ball, swim and ride a bike which on gluten he was unable to do and he was 8yrs old. A father had been celiac but not known it, and thought continuous stomach pains, headaches and fatigue were normal. A HG boy had autistic spectrum disorder, unable to follow instruction, no speaking and no eye contact, then GF and he can do all that well (if he eats gluten then reverts back). None of these people I have spoken to qualified as celiac which I'm told one needs to have a result of 20 for the doctor to diagnose. One boy who wasn't growing, vomiting, in hospital every three weeks, on drips had a score of just 10, but when he came off gluten all symptoms stopped. A common improvement seems to be listening, on gluten they hear but don't respond or do what is asked, GF they do, that was just an added bonus for us.
Unsure if this will work for any of you, but it might be worth a try. Needs to be three months though, as it takes a while for the gluten and its effects to get out of the body. Has to be absolute or the trial won't work, sneaking a bit of gluten here and there at birthday parties and Grandma's house will set them back two weeks. (Gluten is found in wheat, rye, barley, malt and oats. So chip flavourings, sachets and sauces will have wheat or malt extract in them, some canned food, some chocolate and spreads etc.) Sounds hard but supermarkets have a GF aisle usually around the health food section which makes it easy. Health shops also have GF food.
Emotional outbursts are hard to watch, but even worse, they are hard to control. If I can't control them on gluten and I'm an adult, how can I expect my child to?
Wishing you all a positive outcome for your beautiful kids.
I found this on the Gifted Online School site, and wondered if it might be helpful to you. It was some months ago, but the issues may still be current.
I have copied and pasted below for ease of reading.
* * *
Social and Emotional Needs of Gifted Children
This page has been written in case it is helpful to the parents and teachers of children who experienced the earthquakes in Christchurch, but may also be useful to other parents and teachers of gifted children.
Gifted children often sense their emotions more strongly than their age mates, and have an enormous awareness of social justice and the needs of others. They may empathise far more deeply with those affected badly by the quake than another child their age would, even if they have fared relatively well themselves. While caring for these children in similar ways that we would care for other children who are shocked or grieving will often be appropriate, it can also be useful to help gifted children identify ways in which strong emotions are a positive thing in their lives. Strong emotions can be energising, can help us to be caring, can enable us to create and appreciate beauty and humour, and make us interesting to know.
Gifted children may have few or many friends or possessions. Regardless of the number of emotional connections they make, these emotional bonds are often very important to them. Seemingly inconsequential items lost in the earthquake may occasion real grief, and we need to be supportive of children responding to these losses, just as with those who have lost pets or loved ones.
The SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted) website is a very useful resource, and some articles on helping gifted children through stressful life events from their website are linked below:
On highly gifted kids and trauma
On coping with adversity
On the kinds of friendship gifted kids seek, and may be missing
Christine Fonseca has recently published two books on emotional intensity and gifted kids, so various video resources, book previews and similar resources are available for free on the internet at present:
A webinar, which you will need to download a plugin to view.
Part of a presentation by a this real author in a virtual world. The excerpt ends when the musician begins.
A free chapter of the book about gifted kids.
A free preview of the book for gifted kids.
This link is not specific to gifted children, but I feel that some of what it says would be very useful for gifted kids. It speaks of giving children hope: "Hope that the actions of an individual can have a positive impact." We can nurture and personalise this hope in our children by helping them with small acts of service or contribution that will make a difference.
Jo Freitag, of the Gifted Resources Centre in Australia, is a friend of Gifted Online. She has shared the information on this page, and added some more useful links on helping gifted kids at http://www.giftedresources.org/jo/blog/?p=2008. Scroll down her page to the links.
Rose Blackett, president of NZAGC, has written an article for Tall Poppies, which is available at http://www.giftedchildren.org.nz/national/quake.pdf.
Hi. I guess I am a bit like Jay. I am a 32 year old male. I came across this just out of interest, mostly from my strong obsession with psychology lately.
I would like to other some thoughts, as I was one of those kids that struggled with rage. I also didn't know about the hunger pains being related to giftedness, that is interesting as it got so bad for me it left me disabled in tears on the floor. I just thought I was sick.
Recently I came across something called MBTI. It is a psychometric test, that has 16 basic profiles.(This is not black and white, but a scale as well).
I test as an INTP. Having read the profile, it is very spooky how well it fits me. I have even been on an INTP forum. It is like they are in my head. Very spooky. Even the typical personal development path closely mirrors my own. INTP are the type that when stressed will typically rage(or when you have crossed one of our values we will rage too).
For all the 16 types it talks about your strengths, what your weaknesses are, what stresses you, what recharges your batteries. I have found it quite a help, and I would seriously suggest giving it a read.
There are different types of profiles with an intellectual bent and what stresses them and what relaxes them can be different.
Note on that Jay said to use simple words and so on and not to nag. I would have to disagree slightly.
I craved deep intellectual conversations even as a child, small talk bores me and stresses me. See what your child prefers.
Also it depends on what you nag on. Some things are ok, some I would not do at all.
For example. INTJs are highly individualistic. Not giving them freedom of choice, or criticising their choices can send them into a tailspin. Nagging them to do the dishes will probably not.
I will add that MBTI has not been scientifically validated. But I offer it in that it may help some of you and your children.
Hi Jay, thanks heaps for that. All the posts under this thread are very familiar. Hypersensitive etc etc, absolutely. Always expects the worst in a situation.
We're in the teen years. We have seen a bit of an improvement since toddler stage - sometimes after a rage episode we'll now get 'I just felt really angry about...' which for us is a big step. It's always been a problem and we've tried to teach safe, appropriate ways to vent emotions. Have tried anything we can think of... for example during one tantrum I tried holding hands and jumping together to try and release a bit of angry energy. Pillows to punch instead of people/the wall. Go out and run around the lawn. Go in your room and yell. Write angry feelings down then screw the paper up. Discussing during a calm time about it being ok to feel that angry, some people feel it more than others or have it burst out more than others and that's ok, but it needs to be released without hurting anyone or other people's stuff. GROAN! Nothing worked/s. When the rage happens we do ignore some, move away, but at a certain level we need to get our one out of the room (generally in to theirs) to prevent too much physical violence. Not nice. Had a beaut one today to deal with hence venting.
Food - we aren't GF and am not keen to jump into that unless we really have to. But am very careful to keep food healthy, homecooked, unprocessed, to reduce the amount of artificial crap going in. (I had an adopted brother who reacted violently to certain processed foods so this is a bit too familiar for me!). We do try to keep regular amounts going in but now we're at the teen stage that's harder, hormones seem to put everything out of whack again. So that could well be contributing at the moment.
I think the intellectual stimulation is a good idea (and physical activity), however I'm having trouble getting ours to want to do anything stimulating and I'm not sure how to get them to want to get stuck in to anything anymore. We did when they were younger, it was much easier then but at the moment anything offered is turned down. So I'm hamstrung there. I know ours is bored! And I'm sure that isn't helping. Suggestions!??
Struggling socially at the moment is definitely a factor too, am working with the sch to see if that can improve but it's a slow process and will take ours a while to get confidence back I think.
Jay - did you find it worse during teen years?
I've tried most of what you suggested and not all of it has been accepted. I think they're really sensible suggestions. I don't want ours to end up with mental health issues. I do so much listening and try anything that seems potentially useful but haven't found that magic wand yet.
I'll ask if yoga together is acceptable! We could all use a bit of calming here! Just want ours to be happy.
Hi there - my wee man is 3 yrs old and we've just read the book by Elaine Aron on the HSC which has been great as now it all makes sense. What we also have found really supportive is homeopathy. We see a classical homeopath (not off the shelf stuff) and have found the support that the remedy he is on helps cuts the edge off. The tantrums were explosive - now he seems to settle down before things get out of control. Homeppathy has also been hugely helpful for me as mum - somehow I can simply be fully available to him where in the past I would get overwhelmed myself (due to my own sensitivities).
Its important however to find the right classical homeopath...
Very interested in your comments on gluten. I can only give you my personal experience but now honestly believe that what we put into our bodies is reflected in different behaviours.
My son had ++ diarrhoea all through his early years and was extremely irritable, many violent tantrums. head banging on pavement etc etc and we couldn't find the answer (poor child de-wormed by GP so many times!). I had another older child so wasn't a complete novice, couldn't understand why nothing I did helped, and by the start of school I was getting desperate.
I insisted on seeing a renowned Paediatric gastroenterologist. He immediately took bloods and took him off all dairy, soya and all gluten for a month. (This was a proper full medical screening not a pharmacy 'hair test' or similar and you do need the advice/support of a proper diettition as these products are in SO many foods).
I can only describe the difference as if someone had wiped the foggy window clean and there behind it was the child I always thought he was. It was a v emotional moment and I get tearful even now (he's 9 now) thinking about it.
We slowly introduced the foods back one at a time (Soya was fine) and bingo -behaviour (dairy) and diarrhoea (gluten) returned. To illustrate: half a pint of milk can destroy his behaviour for three days or more reducing him to tears, emotional swings (which he tries to express but are beyond words for his young years) and dancing energetically and randomly...on and on and on..... for nearly an hour non-stop! He is an intelligent and sensitive child to boot and has a highly sensitive mother -so a tricky combination anyway which relies on me the 'mature' adult to keep calm -something I often failed in when presented with such extreme behaviour in those days.
I just offer this as a medically approached input. It is v hard to identify the foods on your own. They are in everything -did you know there is milk in salami and salt and vinegar crisps, wheat can be in sorbet -because I didn't? BUT once you get the hang of the new approach it is very easy and a healthy non-processed way to eat, and if you try to include as many options as possible, he copes v well with his friends doing things differently. (A few times I have 'relented' and allowed him chocolate or similar at a party or Christmas and always regretted it afterwards!)
I realise this is not the answer to everyone's child's behaviour (and I have no opinion about its effect on autism here) but thought I'd throw it into the mix in case it rings any bells for someone out there. I had to fight for the right Dr to help but thank God I did. I only regret I didn't go earlier as we definitely had to rebuild our trust and parenting that should have been established in toddler years and he had to catch up emotionally.
Good luck -the fact you are reading this thread means you are driven to find a solution for your child.