When I released Emotional Intensity, Lisa Rivero asked me to write a post about my kids and the lessons I’ve learned from them. What a great idea. So, a year later, I am updating that post –
As most of you may know, I started writing in the field of gifted education because of my work as a school psychologist, working with families, educators and kids to support the social and emotional needs of children.
What I haven’t talked about very much is my own kids, and the things they have taught me about giftedness.
I am blessed to have two highly intelligent girls, ages 15 and 11. Although they are both gifted, as typical with siblings, they show it in very unique ways.
My oldest is the epitome of a gifted introvert – cautious, hesitant, and reluctant to take risks. She was the one that refused to walk until she could do so without falling. My husband and I would catch her trying to stand and walk. Every time she saw us, she fell back to the floor, looking at us as if to say “what? I wasn’t doing anything.” She is highly intense in everything she does, and a perfectionist.
As she has grown over the past year, I see the fruits of her labors in learning to control her emotions. She is now able to advocate for herself, pull herself back from the brink when she is ready to explode, and even laugh (most of the time) at her various idiosyncratic behavior.
My youngest is my extrovert. She craves social attention, often monopolizing conversations and usurping the teacher’s attention in class. Equally as bright as my oldest, she hits you in the face with her intellect, earning her the nickname “scary smart”. She is a risk-taker, trying things gung-ho without any regard to whether or not she can do it. I used to joke in my workshops about this fearlessness she shows, saying she was the type to jump into the water without thinking about whether or not she could swim…that is, until she actually jumped out of a kayak in the middle of the Pacific Ocean because she wanted to say “hi” to me (we were snorkeling and she had on a life vest). Yep, she is a risk taker. And, like her sister, she is intense in every aspect and another perfectionist.
Over the past year, she has fallen victim to her perfectionism more and more. Just last weekend she cried during her soccer game because she was unable to block a goal. Clearly, she and I have some work still to do 😉
These two have been a perfect laboratory for me, enabling me to test out every strategy I recommend in my book or give to parents. Through them I have learned some important lessons, like:
- You HAVE to teach your kids an emotional vocabulary. Really. It helps more than words can explain.
- Sometimes it is better to just walk away from the battle.
- Life really can come down to a hula hoop! – Everything inside the hoop they can worry about, everything outside they must learn to let go. (Hint – they are they only one inside)
- The more work you put in when they are toddlers, the easier the tween years. The more you coach during the tween years, the easier adolescence is.
- Sometimes all they want is a hug – even when they are screaming at you.
- Remaining calm in the middle of an emotional firestorm is both rewarding and HARD.
- The strategies in EMOTIONAL INTENSITY all work….but they are not really as easy as they may sound.
- Persistence, patience, and unconditional high regards can pretty much solve anything.
- When in doubt, go for a swim! If for no other reason than to cool things down.
What lessons have you learned from your kids???