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the emotionally immature gifted child

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
We spent a lot of time with relatives this Xmas, including two female cousins of DD's who are 6 months and 14 months older than DD,and I was struck again by something I do know, but often prefer to not think about much: how emotionally immature DD is. She does have friends at school, but most of them are boys and most of their play is wild physical stuff, crazy goofy nonsense talk, with occasional pretend play that looks more age-appropriate to me. I find it annoying to be around (not the pretend stuff) but have been telling myself it's okay. Well, but. These two girls (and I know they're older) were just SO different from DD. None of the wild, OOC silliness, none of the emotional volatility, so much more socially observant and sophisticated. I saw both of them sort of rolling their eyes and seeming embarrassed for DD sometimes. We also had one incident where DD wet her pants when they were all out for a long nature walk--not at all typical for her, but happened because she didn't want to leave the nature walk. Instead of being embarrassed by wetting her pants, she became hysterical because she had to leave the walk. Her voice also sounds slurred and gets sort of babytalkish when she's really excited, and sometimes she drools or stumbles because of getting totally giddy and nutty from laughter.

I just feel like she is so much "younger" than her age sometimes, like perhaps a young 5 instead of an almost-7. I have tried to sort this behavior into one disorder or another, but nothing really seems accurate...she really doesn't fit ADHD or Asperger's, the most obvious ones. She probably has some SPD. Her IQ is in the gifted range, but though she has many of the typical gifted traits, she is certainly not serious, mature, wise-seeming, or some of the other stuff people mention about gifted kids seeming "older." She also does not like/get sophisticated humor, which is often mentioned as a characteristic. And yeah, she still occasionally has major tantums like a younger child or gets way more upset/scared/emotional than most kids her age would.

I don't really know what I am looking for here. Commiseration? Reassurance? I don't know that I think there is really anything "wrong" with her--she's just young for age, and I guess it often seems especially weird in combination with the giftedness. Sometimes I feel like there are no other kids like her. I do know other very bright kids, but they fall much more into the "old before their time/quiet/mature/well-behaved" category.
post #2 of 12

It's not unusual for gifted girls to before males in the younger (and older) ages. My DD is 13 and her best friends have always been boys... typically gifted boys. She just prefers active play. Certainly she was imaginative but she wanted to be a super hero or a pirate not a princess! Elementary was the easiest because girl/boy relationships weren't too frowned upon. Middle school was very lonely because that age really expected the sexes to be seperate unless they were "dating." High school has been much better because it's OK for boys and girls to be friends again. DD has found more like-minded girls to be with at this age but still, her best friend is still a boy and they are inseperable.

 

I think it's important to really consider what maturity is. Often, the marker for maturity in girls is attitude, obsession with pop culture, disengagement, and boy crazy. I used to get all sorts of comments of how nice it was that DD was still "such a little girl" because she wasn't acting like the other girls. What made them think DD was a little girl? Believe it or not, it was because she conversed easily with adults and had interest in topics outside the typical Disneyfied Tweenager.

 

From what you described, your DD may be a little "young" in some areas but I suspect she's mature in others. Does she actually seem less mature than boys her age? It could be that her interests just don't line up with girls her age.

post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
I think it's important to really consider what maturity is. Often, the marker for maturity in girls is attitude, obsession with pop culture, disengagement, and boy crazy.

Yes, thank you--this is a good point. These older girls do have all those things, except the boy-craziness, and DD does not. She would never roll her eyes at anybody and she has no concept of "cool." As a family, we intentionally deemphasize/avoid all the tweeniness that is pushed on girls even at this age, and she is not into shopping and pop music, does not know who Hannah Montana is, etc. It isn't JUST this, though...there is also the whole piece where she is still likely to cry hysterically over fairly minor things.

She does not seem less mature than boys her age, I don't think. It's much more obvious around other girls than around boys. I just see this--well, I would call it sophistication, but you're right that it may not be exactly that....in other girls her age or even younger.

The only place you see the "mature" stuff often attributed to gifted kids is that she is highly concerned with justice, fairness, saving the earth, etc. So there is that.
post #4 of 12

a couple of thoughts...

 

 

Both of my DC are accustomed to most things coming very easily for them. When something doesn't, they meltdown over it. DS (will be 6 mid-Jan) is much better now, but it's taken a lot of work to remind him that frustration & challenge don't have to equal anger and crying. It's a long process. DD (will be 4 on Wed!) still cries about things that I don't see from others. Some of that, I think, comes from the general easiness of things.

 

The other thing I've had to come to terms with, and I don't think this is related to giftedness per se, is that many people around me raise their children to be quiet & obedient all.the.time. DH's uncle & his wife have 2 children around the ages of our children. From the time these girls were older infants, they were constantly "shushed" and told to "act like a lady." When DH's grandfather died, the girls were 2 and 4, and they sat through the wake, the funeral, the family visitations without ever making a peep. It seemed miraculous to me! I was totally chasing my kids around. (They also were 2 and 4 at the time.) The thing is, though, that these girls, while sweet kids, are incredibly...boring. They seem "mature," but I never see them play or color or even smile. They're "into" Disney princesses, but I honestly think that it's because they have no other choice. It was pushed on them because that's what interests "proper" girls. They're so afraid to just BE KIDS that they seem really well-behaved. I know that DH's aunt thinks that we let our kids run wild, but I'd prefer that to really "sophisticated" kids without any authentic interests. 

post #5 of 12

It's not weird at all. It's probably part and parcel with her giftedness. She'll outgrow it. Gifted kids can be squirrels. 

 

There is a likely reason. Some gifted kids tend to show delayed maturation of the prefrontal cortex when compared to age-matched peers who do not have ADHD. (ADHD kids also have late maturation of the prefrontal cortex.) The prefrontal cortex helps with executive decision making, planning, and social behaviors. The late delay probably allows gifted kids to learn like little kids for a longer period of time than their peers. It allows broad flexible thinking and rapid acquisition of knowledge and continued rapid acquisition of language. They have a longer window to develop higher thinking skills. 

 

At the same time, the late development means that they can show late development of social skills compared to normal peers and can show difficulty in maintaining attention. 

 

They outgrown. It's a delay, not a permanent condition. They will catch up eventually. You just have to wait for it, and be ready to allow for the delay. 

 

 

 

Stuff to read on it:

 

http://eideneurolearningblog.blogspot.com/2006/03/biology-of-late-bloomers-gifted-but.html

 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/29/AR2006032902182.html

 

http://connectedparenting.com/2010/04/picking-your-battles-with-gifted-children-brain-development-organization.htm

 

post #6 of 12


These are mature thoughts certainly. I think she's what we were talking about in another post... asychronis.

 

I will say that both my kids potty trained at 2 but each of them had an accident in kindergarten.... this just SHOCKED me cause they hadn't had an accident since two (and they were a total wreck about it!) My eldest 13 doesn't always get sophisticated humour. I don't see it as immaturity in her case, I see it as her being way to literal of a creature. My DS is 10 and just had a major meltdown over his science report because I'd caught a few errors in proof reading. As to the crying, I don't know how unsusual it is for 6-year-olds. I do think that gifted kids have different triggers. I know when DD was 6, her teacher would comment on "immaturity" because she would cry in class. It's not that she was the only one in tears, DD just cried over different things. She didn't make a big deal when some other girl didn't want to be her friend (which causes most 6-year-olds to cry.) She cried because her little craft project didn't look right. Since she was the only kid crying in a situation that didn't seem a big deal to the teacher, it did seem "young." The reaction itself wasn't atypical, just the timing. A year made a big difference. She looped with this same teacher the next year and first conference she was deemed the most mature kid in class.

 

You could be correct and your DD is a little young for age in some areas but I wouldn't worry about it and I'd be careful comparing her to girls who really aren't like her in personality, ability or unbringing. It'll all resolve itself.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by loraxc View Post


The only place you see the "mature" stuff often attributed to gifted kids is that she is highly concerned with justice, fairness, saving the earth, etc. So there is that.
post #7 of 12

I have had similar moments, worrying both about the social and the emotional maturity of DS versus other children we met. Actually I shouldn't call them moments, most of the Christmas vacation had me mulling over DS socio-emotional development.

 

We had to leave a Christmas party early because after playing grocery store very nicely with some sligthly older girls,, he descending into being totally obnoxious, annoying (switching off the lights) and hurting them (pinching) on purpose, then having a meltdown because they sent him away (apparently) saying they did not want to play with him ever again, then knocking over a little one on purpose, another try at playing with the bigger ones, another meltdown "they said I am not allowed to go back home ever!"

The other grownups would just roll their eyes at me "oh they have their ups and downs!" when I kept hovering trying to interfere, one father telling him "come on, don't believe everything girsl tell you!" To me, they just didnt seem to get it - after a certain point, there is no way for him but down and there is no way for him to nat take things seriously. There is no other way but hovering and being on top All.The.Time, pulling him aways physically from the lightswitch etc... so we just left to put him to bed.

We tried again for a New Year's Eve party at another family's place and we never left DS out of eye- or earshot for longer than a few minutes, kept shopping in their store so I could steer their play to keep them all engaged, constantly running interference, rushing over like lightning when one of the girls yelled "ow - stop it!", kept threatening at the slightest infraction (jumping too close to a little one for instance) "stop AT ONCE or granny will come get you" (my parents having agreed to pick him up after the kids' dinner to put him to bed so we could stay with DD) and we actually had a very nice evening! Sounds counterintuitive, I know, but we had it under control at all times. And I did not care whether people thought I was being weird heli mom - in fact, I had a chance to talk a little to our hostess, who we see rarely, about our four-year-olds and she said "you know, DD does this obnoxioxious thing in preschool where she runs at kids to hug them and won't stop, knocking them over - some of the other kids just oaugh and others lose it and it's embarassing..."another sensory seeker! I was so relieved-  the two actually got on like a house on fire...Still, th other little girl , though only two months older, seemd MUCh more mature.

 

Everything is so much more intense. It struck me that even when DS is goofy, it seems more intense than other kids. When he is being serious, the same. When he is being sensitive - he shocked a friend who wantde to give him the story about Miracula fro Christmas, which he knw from the library, and he had a meltdown immediately about the story being "too sad - she can't find her shell and gets WET!"  He seems much younger during those times, too.

post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
I do think that gifted kids have different triggers. I know when DD was 6, her teacher would comment on "immaturity" because she would cry in class. It's not that she was the only one in tears, DD just cried over different things. She didn't make a big deal when some other girl didn't want to be her friend (which causes most 6-year-olds to cry.) She cried because her little craft project didn't look right. Since she was the only kid crying in a situation that didn't seem a big deal to the teacher, it did seem "young."

This is a REALLY good reminder. Thank you. Yes, DD is the same. She often does not cry much at all over things that would bother a more typical kid (losing a game, getting hurt, not getting a desired toy), but she can become hysterical over things that do not bother other kids at all. It isn't even as much the frequency of the meltdowns but what they are about. It makes the reactions seem weirder and more immature because they don't resonate as "typical" with other adults, me included.
post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
. Some gifted kids tend to show delayed maturation of the prefrontal cortex when compared to age-matched peers who do not have ADHD. (ADHD kids also have late maturation of the prefrontal cortex.) The prefrontal cortex helps with executive decision making, planning, and social behaviors. The late delay probably allows gifted kids to learn like little kids for a longer period of time than their peers. It allows broad flexible thinking and rapid acquisition of knowledge and continued rapid acquisition of language. They have a longer window to develop higher thinking skills.

On this--yes, I had seen reference to this here before. I guess it's just that I don't personally see other gifted kids who act this way. DD can actually come off as delayed at times, IMO (not intellectually/academically, obviously).

You know, really, maybe this makes sense. When I read descriptions of ADHD, many of the descriptors do fit her, but she has no attentional problems at all.
post #10 of 12

Rivertam has excellent links posted.  I think the "answer" is there-- in differently developing brains, 

post #11 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tigerle View Post

To me, they just didnt seem to get it - after a certain point, there is no way for him but down and there is no way for him to nat take things seriously. There is no other way but hovering and being on top All.The.Time, pulling him aways physically from the lightswitch etc... so we just left to put him to bed.

 

Sounds counterintuitive, I know, but we had it under control at all times. And I did not care whether people thought I was being weird heli mom - 

 

Everything is so much more intense. It struck me that even when DS is goofy, it seems more intense than other kids. When he is being serious, the same. When he is being sensitive - he shocked a friend who wantde to give him the story about Miracula fro Christmas, which he knw from the library, and he had a meltdown immediately about the story being "too sad - she can't find her shell and gets WET!"  He seems much younger during those times, too.


Oh, yeah, I feel like Heli-mom all the time.  I used to read articles and put the stress on myself being a "bad" mom, but some kids need the extra guidance.  Ds is socio-emotionally on the immature side, and he needs the guidance and "monitor" that his internal system hasn't set up yet.  I am pretty sure it's because of higher-than-average intelligence, asynchronous development, in addition to some SPD.  I have done a lot of coaching with him at home to help him understand social situations, cues, and read his own body signals better. 

 

His teacher and the head of school last year recommended he repeat kindergarten because he wasn't ready for 1st.  We progressed to 1st anyway because his academics are just way too high for kindy.  We've had some bumps.  I've seen some of the differences between him and others - he looks more impulsive and spacey mostly, at school.  At home, I see a lot of the emotional intensity and overt difficulty with transitions.  It's him.  I don't think he'll have these issues forever, and I think he's come a long way since last spring even.  In the short-term, I'll do my best to help him learn the skills he needs for the moment.

 

There are some really good resources to help kids learn to manage their emotions, transition, deal with the social stuff - whether it's just due to asynchronous development or a diagnoseable disorder.  Superflex, You are a Social Detective, Social Behavior Mapping (those 3 can kind of work together), Social Stories, and The Incredible 5-point scale.  We have used them all at different times, starting with Superflex and Social Detective. 

post #12 of 12

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rose-Roget View Post
Oh, yeah, I feel like Heli-mom all the time.  I used to read articles and put the stress on myself being a "bad" mom, but some kids need the extra guidance.  Ds is socio-emotionally on the immature side, and he needs the guidance and "monitor" that his internal system hasn't set up yet.  I am pretty sure it's because of higher-than-average intelligence, asynchronous development, in addition to some SPD.  I have done a lot of coaching with him at home to help him understand social situations, cues, and read his own body signals better. 


Wow - I could have written this myself.  I haven't been in this area of MDC for quite a while, but came looking for/ready to ask the same question as the OP.  My DS was IDed G&T 3 months before his 4th birthday (we weren't going to have it done, but ended up doing it because of some school issues - long story).  DH and I get "told" quite often that we're being too "strict" with or hard on him, but most of the time DS still just doesn't understand how to behave in social situations.  He runs around like an absolute maniac, making all the goofy noises and actions....  Then all of a sudden he ages 30 years and can debate global warming and the politics of war.  On the other hand, he read the first 2 Harry Potter books in August/September (I haven't let him read the next one because he was having some over-active imagination nightmares - and I didn't think the Death Eaters would help that much.  Seeing that was a few months ago, and he seems to have settled, I have told him he can read it after I've finished it.  We'll see how that goes.)

 

He also has a melt-down whenever he doesn't get something "right".  Today, for example, he drew a picture of Micky Mouse.  This picture was awesome!  He dissolved into a sodden mess because "the face doesn't look right and the legs are too long".  (The face was very slightly squareish...  that's it.)  He doesn't understand that he is still only 6, with a 6-year-old body....  and that 6-year-old bodies don't always cooperate with the brain that's operating them!

 

loraxc...  I'm not sure what I'm trying to share...  except maybe the fact that I don't think there's anything "wrong" with your DD - and that you are most definitely not alone!  hug2.gif

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