Your daughter, Jenny, is editor of the school newspaper. She’s a math whiz, a voracious reader, and a star athlete. At 15, she looks destined for a great life.
Why, then, is she freaking out over what looks like nothing? Why is she still having meltdowns? Why is she screeching at you about your fundamentally inadequate parenting?
She was so darned cute when she was three.
But now, school is a struggle. She questions her teachers’ authority and refuses to turn in assignments that aren’t up to her standards. She criticizes the values of her so-called friends. Even though she has great empathy for the suffering multitudes, there’s no empathy for you. None. Nada. Zilch.
Welcome to adolescence. Welcome to GiftedKid 2.0.
I’m exaggerating. A little. In fact, she really does have empathy for you. Believe it or not, she feels guilty for her outbursts and hides a pressing need to please you. She worries that she’s a disappointment and that she’ll never live up to your expectations. (or her own) Her burning need for intellectual stimulation and her loneliness at not being deeply seen, also trigger her emotional reactivity.
Not to mention, um, hormones.
And, of course, your teen may not be like this at all. Gifted kids come in all shapes, sizes and varieties. But if you relate to the above, you’re not alone.
What can you do? Besides escape to a deserted island until she’s 21?
• Remind yourself that overexcitabilities (OEs) are part of the rainforest-minded package. Gifted kids are naturally more intense emotionally as well as intellectually.
• Notice if you have your own set of OEs and learn how to nourish yourself, soothe your soul and get your own intellectual needs met.
• Try your best not to take the criticism personally. This is not easy. Breathe. Learn to meditate. Get exercise. Try therapy if your childhood pain is being triggered.
• Listen and reflect her feelings during the emotional turmoil. Problem solve later. No advice. No criticism. Listening is key. It’s a simple idea but not easy to do.
And, when all else fails, take comfort in the words of Andrew Solomon:
“Like parents of children who are severely challenged, parents of exceptionally talented children are custodians of children beyond their comprehension.”
To my bloggEEs: For those of you who are parents, let us know how you experience your precocious adolescents. If you’re a gifted teen, does this sound like you? Or if you were a gifted teen, does this sound familiar? In a future post, I’ll focus on teen boys. But the suggestions apply if you have boys, as well. Thank you all, as always, for being here. Note: Just to clarify. I’m not saying that it’s not OK to question authority, to have high standards or to examine your friends’ values. Heavens, no. OK? Just clarifying.