Just when you think you know …

Have you ever been caught off guard? You know, the times when you think you have finally nailed a good response for your child, to encourage a more harmonious atmosphere, and they catch you out – yet again!

Don’t be surprised – and don’t be too hard on yourself either. We react – it’s an inbuilt life-sustaining function to react, especially when we are threatened. We shouldn’t try for a lack of reaction, we should aim for a positive reaction, no matter what the circumstances.

Some gifted children tend to react, often unfavourably, to the actions of those that get too close to them. This could be close proximity – or closeness as in family members. When the going gets tough – it is often their loved ones they lash out at first – those they feel safe enough to be ‘themselves’ around.

Teaching how to react positively is something we can all benefit from. What is the source of our problem? What is happening to cause us to react the way we are? And what would be a more effective way to react?

Example: Think of the gifted older brother who has spent much time and energy building his Lego “dominion” – little buildings everywhere, all in their place, and all with their own particular importance. In comes younger brother – “destroyer of the dominion” – self-appointed to the position, and really effective at what he does!

Problem 1 – access. If little brother didn’t have access, then WW3 might be allayed! Think about this before you start. Secure the site! But, if there is no solution to this one, then what about a few blocks to one side for little brother to build and break his own dominion?

Problem 2 – outrage. Yes, little brother will get wound up just as much as you if you raise your voice and start ordering him around. “Mum” will get an earful, yet again! Yelling about the problem without changing some of the inputs will never solve it!

Problem 3 – the age difference. Not something you can always do anything about, so learn to live with it. If you live on an island and the only way to get your food is to fish for it – you will soon teach yourself to fish. If you have a younger brother, you will have to learn to work out ways you and he can live in harmony in your home.

And for Mum, or Dad, (or teacher), who seems to live their life at the moment being referee from one battle to the next – cheer up. Trying to be one step ahead of your gifted child, to preserve harmony in the home or class is a very time-consuming practice. Be realistic! Allocate time for it. And allocate time for sitting down and scaffolding your child through a dilemma to show them how to deal with it. It will be well-spent time in the long run. Never tire of doing what is right.

And one day … you will see that the problems of yesterday, if acted upon today, can set up some good foundations for the future.

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About Debbie Smith

New Zealand Educator interested in online education, giftedness, and other special needs in education.
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