OH, those emotional intensities

Over-excitabilities. Intensities. Wound too tightly. Whatever you call them, they’re not fun. They’re not fun to parent, they’re not fun to be married to, they’re not fun to have yourself. Put ‘em all together and you have all kinds of emotional distress. Distress such as:

Do you ever wonder if and when you’re going to snap? Not just a twig-underfoot-snap, but a huge old-growth-tree-hit-by-lightning-snap. That feeling just keeps getting stronger and stronger, and I owe it to my family (and yes, to myself) to back away from the ledge and get a grip. No one will benefit from Mom losing her mind and running down the street naked with a platypus singing “My Country ‘Tis of Thee.” Except maybe the random person with a camera who then gains his 15 minutes of fame when his amusingly edited video goes viral. Dude, just Photoshop out the jiggle, that’s all I ask.

This summer, just an hour up the road from me, SENG will host their annual conference. I registered last month, but this afternoon finally got around to checking out what breakout sessions are available. And I fell in love and wanted to hug the whole danged organization and buy it a root beer float and rainbows and glitter and yeah, I’m excited about the offerings.

Of all things with giftedness, the social and emotional aspect is the part that hits us hardest here in the House of Chaos. Four people (three of them Type A firstborns), all with over-excitabilities of various strengths, bouncing off each other in a frenetic dance of intensities. It can be kinda rough, is what I’m saying. So to be able to attend a conference that not only acknowledges that gifted people are wired a wee bit differently but has sessions on how to cope with that wiring…well, it’s a relief. Maybe someone there will have “The Answer.” Or at the very least crib notes.

I will need those crib notes; we realized today that we’re looking down the barrel to the teenaged years. That realization did not sit well with us. So we’ll be working even harder to teach (and model) appropriate stress management. Of course, to teach and model such appropriate behavior, one must actually (ahem) learn it oneself. Which is one reason why I’ll be at the SENG conference this summer.

Pinky promise, I won’t snap between now and then, though the thought of a quiet padded room is delightful right now. I just don’t trust the guy with the video to Photoshop out the jiggle.

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12 thoughts on “OH, those emotional intensities

  1. Another variable is the dynamics between the siblings…Once I started letting them entertain me rather than trying to be the referee, the dynamics became less of an issue…I encouraged them to be more creative with their insults and they began to appreciate the creative efforts of their sibs….now we have all sorts of catch phrases that are unique to our household. They rely on each other for financial advice, love life advice, sharing their triumphs and losses. So I’m not the only one shouldering the intensities♫♪

  2. By the way, just wanted to let you know I’ve been following your emotional intensity posts. It’s been really useful to us, as we’re all this way in my family. And yes, I owe it to them to back away from the ledge which I seem to find myself on more and more often when I’m stressed to the limit. My girls are quite reserved, my youngest being very shy, but she feels so so much, so things like getting overlooked for being shy really hurt her feelings and make life difficult for her. It’s amazing too how her teacher had no idea how incredibly smart she is–through most of the year because she’s so quiet. Even had her in a mid-level reading group until one day she finally got some confidence and really pushed herself to read aloud, and without practicing just picked up a grown up book and read it like she’d been doing it her entire five years alive. I knew she could do this, but her teacher didn’t–so you can imagine my emotions going haywire when I realized too late that she’d been so overlooked for 5 months of the year–and I finally had some understanding of why she hasn’t enjoyed coming to school. Her intelligence hasn’t been acknowledged and she’s had to do work far below her ability. Sigh. *stepping back from the ledge*

    That sounds like a wonderful conference. Looking forward to hearing the things you learn.

    • Awe, thanks Carol. I have loved this blog. My co-contributors are all amazing in their own right, and their words are a constant source of inspiration.

  3. Our houesehold has been pretty intense of late too! Oh yea….

  4. Won’t the teen years be easier for us because we have eventually figured out how to deal with slammed doors and stormy feelings? And won’t all my focus on coping techniques finally work by then? Christine’s book gives such hope. And I remember being a mature teen. Schoolwork is not quite as boring….But maybe you are right. Maybe it’ll just get WORSE!!?!

    Wish I could attend the conference. Why aren’t there workshops for the kids focusing on coping techniques? Why all games? Just wondering. I am sure there will be lots of books on these topics to purchase.

  5. Our summer homework is going to be to read Christine’s book (101 secrets for gifted kids) as a family and discuss each chapter. My boys are both intense, but polar opposites in so so many ways. One goal is to teach them to notice each other’s buttons and (maybe) then choose to NOT push them. I will include myself in the project, since I do many of the same things myself.

  6. Thanks Jen. I love your posts as they’re so incredibly ‘human’ and real. I always try to remember that, when dealing with our 4-going-on-14 year old daughter, it’s not just *her* that has the intensity and sensitivity. ;)

  7. Man, I wish this was happening locally…I am desperate for answers and solutions. I’m reading the 2 books, EI and “living with Intensity” now and I just don’t know what direction to go…saw the psychiatrist yesterday who wants to put my Dr. on prozac for trichtilomania…I just worry about that for a 9 yr old’s developing brain…is medicating the answer? Are most gifted kids put on meds since so many of them seem to have ADHD/OCD/Oppositional disorder…what is real and what is part of their giftedness wiring?

    • You could get a second opinion. I personally would try meds for that if they might help. At least you’re not in this quandry: My friend’s kid has tourette’s and ADD but the meds for tourette’s are known to increase ADD. Behavioral therapy is supposed to help these conditions also, but you’d probably have to pay a lot. Look up Tamar Chansky: Freeing Child From Anxiety. I found this book helpful.
      Just because a problem is part of gifted wiring does not mean you can’t seek help for it WHEN it is causing a problem with living daily life, which is always when people should seek help. But if the hair pulling completely stops outside of school, I might consider that it’s mostly an environmental problem and address that before meds.
      I’m not licensed in any of these areas, but I have just been through a lot with this anxiety thing.
      I read that gifted kids need to have their educational environment adjusted sometimes and the “problem” disappears. This is not true for my daughter. Is it true for yours?

  8. sorry that that was suppose to read, “put my daughter on…”

  9. Robin, the therapist today just mentioned that book by Chansky…I will check it out. I do want to see how it goes when school lets out to see if things get better before we try medication. I guess she inherited the anxiety gene from me…maybe, also from her dad who developed it later in life.
    I don’t think she has any problem with the educational environment…she never complains about things there. But, then again she never wants to talk about school stuff or what’s going on inside herself (talk to the hand). Since not being in school this week she’s been happier & more compliant and sweet with me ‘tho…hmm.

    • My daughter sees the counselor at school for a group in which they talk and do feelings identification, which is learning the language of feelings. You can do this at home too. Put emotions in a hat and talk about a time when you felt ___________.
      She learned “brave talk” from school counselor. Santa Monica has the UCLA Family Commons with lots of classes for kids and workshops for parents. Check out their website.

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