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Parenting a “kite kid” (my term for gifted and twice-exceptional children) comes with unique challenges, but you can navigate them. And there are many ways to support your child. Here are several:
Read my Kite Kids 101 page. It provides a high-level overview of the most important things to understand about giftedness.
Read A Parent’s Guide to Gifted Children. (Seriously.)
You know the exploding head emoji with its mouth agape? That was me by page 22. In less than two dozen pages, I’d discovered more about my son than I had in three years!
I’m not kidding. It explained so much about his behavior – and the way he perceives and processes incoming information. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
When a child has depression or an anxiety disorder of any kind (generalized anxiety, social anxiety, etc.), he must know what calm feels like before he can begin the process of achieving that state on his own. This can take time, explains Stuart Shanker, PhD, author of Self-Reg: How to Help Your Child (and You) Break the Stress Cycle and Successfully Engage with Life. Each child is different, so what enables one child achieve a state of calm may do nothing to help another kid. In fact, it could have the opposite effect.
Also, if a child has significant social challenges, don’t try to tackle that until after addressing the child’s stressors.
Why? Because anxiety disorders and clinical depression are straight-up debilitating. In fact, he won’t even be able to access the thinking part of his brain (the pre-frontal cortex). That’s the part that makes it possible for us to interpret facial expressions, control impulses, discern what’s a true threat, and more.
Dr. Shanker talks about this in Self-Reg. Social competencies guru Michelle Garcia Winner does, too. She’s the speech-language pathologist who created the Social Thinking® methodology and curriculum. (See social competencies section below.)
With From Worrier to Warrior: A Guide to Conquering Your Fears, author Dan Peters, PhD, shows your child how to overcome worry and fear using several easy-to-follow strategies. Kids can read the book themselves, or read along with a parent or other adult. Worriers learn how to create their very own “toolbox” of strategies to combat fear and anxiety, and conquer “the Worry Monster” at any time.
“Dr. Dan” is an expert on anxiety disorders and 2e kids. In fact, he had to learn how to battle the Worry Monster himself! He touches on this in the book and explains how, even as an adult, he still has to silence the Worry Monster occasionally. That’s such a great point, in my opinion, because it reinforces the all-important “progress; not perfection” message, and also helps kids realize this is a life skill.
Dr. Dan also has two companion resources for this book:
- The Warrior Workbook, which contains exercises and conversations designed to increase self-awareness and a deeper understanding some challenges that kids face.
- Make Your Worrier a Warrior, written for parents and teachers, provides useful and comforting methods to support kids who worry a lot. Adults often find that these strategies can help them effectively manage their own anxieties, too. 😉
Learn why your kite kid may lack “social intelligence” – and may experience exclusion or bullying because of it. (My article on building “social smarts” is a good place to start.)
For a much deeper dive with Michelle Garcia Winner (who I mention in the above article), Social Thinking and Me is a fantastic resource. It’s a guidebook, written for 9- to 12-year-old students, who have strong language skills, but struggle with the “hidden expectations” of sharing space and relating to their peers. By the way, this is book one in a two-book set.
The second book (for adults) includes related “think sheets” to further explore teaching each concept in the kids’ guidebook. Many “gifted” kids have told Michelle and her team that this book set provided them with a scientific way to explore the mysteries of the social world. (Perfect for the way they think, right?)
In addition, Thinking About You Thinking About Me contains a great overview of the Social Thinking® Methodology, an approach that teaches kids “social smarts” and techniques for applying those competencies to everyday situations. The method also provides a good foundation for books like her popular Superflex Curriculum and You Are A Social Detective! Thinking About You Thinking About Me also explains the best way to assess “social smarts” skills.
Hint: The best way isn’t in an unrealistically quiet room. Assessments also shouldn’t deconstruct, and examine, communication in parts. That’s because the real-world test (by peers) demands that students be able to successfully integrate communication skills, and perform each component and transition quickly (two seconds or less).
Help your child build his social skills. One book that helped my son (and me from a coaching perspective) is Growing Friendships: A Kids’ Guide to Making and Keeping Friends.
I also learned a lot from Smart Parenting for Smart Kids. (Read my article on The Problem with “Potential” which focuses on an important message in the book’s introduction.)
Other moms who blog
Follow bloggers who write about “gifted” and 2e children. Besides my site, which I hope you’ll follow, here are some other moms I like:
- Raising Lifelong Learners by Colleen Kessler
- Not So Formulaic by Ginny Kochis
- TiLT Parenting by New York Times best-selling author Debbie Reber
All of these ladies homeschool their kids. I don’t, but homeschooling is only one of the subjects they discuss. They discuss many other topics, too.
Find online groups for gifted parents. There are a lot out there once you start looking. When I joined the first one, I scrolled through some of the other mom’s posts and felt, for the first time, like other parents understood what my son and I had been experiencing for so long.
I mention a few when you subscribe to my email list. (To help protect these moms from Internet trolls, I’m not going to mention them here.)
Also, Bright & Quirky is a membership-driven site, that provides a lot of value to 2e families; however, they also make occasional posts on their blog, which anyone can access.
If you think your child could use professional help to navigate any social, emotional or behavioral challenges, find a therapist trained in giftedness. You shouldn’t go to a cardiologist for a knee replacement; the same is true here. Because your child is “differently wired,” she’ll experience unique challenges that someone trained in giftedness is better equipped to counsel her on.
My article on medical misdiagnosis explains how dangerous this lack of knowledge can be for gifted patients. For more in-depth information, I also recommend Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children and Adults: ADHD, Bipolar, OCD, Asperger’s, Depression, and Other Disorders (2nd edition). It has really helped me understand this issue.
Get to know the two leading organizations in the gifted arena. They have great information on their websites and Facebook pages.
Review the National Association of Gifted Children’s parent tip sheets. They address 12 aspects of giftedness, ranging from asynchronous development and making friends, to how to collaborate with teachers.
My articles and updates for parents
I post new articles on my home page regularly that address a range of topics related to kite kids. Some of my stories are deeper dives on clinical aspects of giftedness; others focus on social-emotional issues or academics. Here are some I think you’ll like: my parent articles.
For additional insights, please subscribe to my blog. I’ll add you to a welcome series that provides more information, and alert you when I post a new article or there’s something big happening in the “gifted” and 2e parenting world that you should have on your radar.