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Gifted reader: Funny story but serious concern

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 

My  My 7yo DD has just started second grade.  She finished last school year reading at the eight grade level.  DP and I have been struggling with our daughters and I picked up some parenting books.  I put one in the bathroom one morning, where DP is more likely to make progress reading.  I found some time to read, so I went in there to get it.  It was missing.


I looked for the book throughout the day and couldn't find it.  My daughters seemed to have no idea where it went.  I checked in with them all that evening, describing the cover.  I told them it was a parenting book.  7yo DD perked up.  "Oh---- You mean How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk?"  She went right over to her bed and dug it out from beside her mattress.  She handed it to me.  "You've already tried most of this stuff."  She gave me an example of something I'd tried.  I can't remember what it was.  I was so surprised.

 

I admit that I laughed later when I told DP what had happened.  We both thought it was funny, but also made us a little nervous.  DD has picked up my cookbooks and magazines - natural living, cooking sorts - but she has never been interested in this type of reading.  She must have been drawn in by the title.  I can't say it is necessarily bad that she read some of this particular book.  She only had it for a day, so she couldn't have read it all.  (I think)  Anyway, it comes from an angle of respecting children's feelings and I'm glad that she knows that is our goal.  It will probably be good to discuss it with her once DP and I have talked about it.


Our problems with this particular DD stem from her challenging our rules/decisions.  DD's sensory issues have come into play as well.  I want her to feel like a kid -- I want her to trust that her parents can protect her and that we do have at least some of the answers.  When I was a child, I didn't feel like a kid and I really wanted to.

I wonder, too, about how much information she might be exposed to that is age-inappropriate for her.  We have parental controls on the computer and I don't keep my adult-appropriate reading around generally.  What else should we be doing?

 

On a side-note:  I'd love some parenting book suggestions that might be helpful for our family.

post #2 of 26

If reading is her thing, maybe sit down with your DP and write her a heartfelt letter about your concerns and your hopes and dreams for her.  Maybe she would enjoy reading this on her own and having time to process it by herself.  It might make her feel there is less of a power struggle with the issues you are facing with her.  Just a suggestion - I think I would have loved that as a kid, and I was a challenge the parental rules type.

post #3 of 26
Thread Starter 

Thanks, pranava, for the suggestion.  smile.gif  We've bought some message boards to communicate with the children about expectations, etc.  It seems like it will be a great fit here.  DD has requested that we fill in a list of chores she can check off, with no prompting.  She just likes the chores notepad that came with the board... She might respond well to a letter.

post #4 of 26

I was this kid.  I wasn't 7, but I was about 9 and 10, and I was reading my parents' parenting books, and I even knew they took a parenting class (free resource, etc.) and I frequently told them they weren't doing it "the way it should be done."  :)  I challenged, debated, argued and generally tried to prove my point.  Not so much of a battle of wills, as a battle of logic.  (I have this child now...)  Keep all the messages coming--positive, loving, supportive; but eventually my mom had to explain that not all books are age appropriate for children, and I needed to get permission for any book that wasn't part of our normal "kids' books."  I read John Steinbeck at 11.  Not really age appropriate...    Hang in there to be consistent...

 

post #5 of 26
Ha--MY 7yo recently informed me that she now knew how to not fight with her brother anymore because she'd read Siblings Without Rivalry! (And yes, it's in the bathroom on the back of the toilet.) So far this does not yet seem to be true, alas!

I also read my parents' parenting books. I think it's okay. That said, DD is only allowed to visit websites I've approved. Our kids sound rather similar.
post #6 of 26

Are you sure she couldn't've read a parenting book in a day? My 5yo twice-exceptional DD often reads our books, and can do them pretty quicky...She's profoundly gifted, though. According to our paediatrician, she has the intellectual maturity of a teenager, or possibly even a young adult. I suppose it would be different for a normal gifted child.

 

Anyway...Gifted children often want to grow up more, to continue being smarter and more advanced than the other kids-they hate being pushed, they're very free spirits, but they hate being restricted too. Maybe have a heart-to-heart with your daughter, ask her how she wants to be treated. What kind of things does she want to read? What kind of sites does she want to go on? What kind of ways does she want you and your DP to act around her? Does she want to be treated like a child, or more equally? Her option shouldn't be the major factor-she might want to test the boundaries and do some very extreme things, which shouldn't be allowed-but it's a good starting point.

post #7 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by kylie1 View Post

Anyway...Gifted children often want to grow up more, to continue being smarter and more advanced than the other kids-they hate being pushed, they're very free spirits, but they hate being restricted too. 


Exactly. This is more a result of their personality, their drive, and their tendency to think deeply about issues, not the result of lack of parental rules and restrictions. The OP's feeling of "not having been a child" very likely came at least in part from her being driven to think about things differently from other children, her interests and inclinations pushing her in different directions than her agemates. I don't think a different set of parental limits can really change those basic issues within a child. Some kids truly are "old souls." My eldest two are definitely in this camp.

 

I'm another parent who wasn't at all concerned by my children reading parenting books. My parenting style is open and respectful and I wanted my kids to understand why I was responding to them as I was. If they gained some of that understanding by reading the same books I was, so much the better. It allowed us to have some pretty deep discussions about "how we do things in this family" and to adjust and modify some of our inter-family dynamics based on a lot of common ground and common understanding.

 

Miranda

post #8 of 26

On my happy memories of child asychrony was finding my three year old reading a copy of "Your Four Year Old" because he "wanted to find out what it will be like to be four years old."

 

I see no harm in the kid picking up "How to Talk "and potentially some good can come from it. I say if a parenting book contains secrets you don't want your child to know, it probably isn't a very good parenting book. If you haven't already done so now might be a good time to start to think about family meetings. It sounds like your child isn't going to appreciate "top down" sort of parenting. Family meetings can be a way to get her involved in decision making and problem solving. http://www.positivediscipline.com/newsletters/family-meetings.html

 

I do think you are right to have Internet controls and to keep active discussions open about what is appropriate online.

 

 

post #9 of 26
Quote:

Originally Posted by BennyPai View Post

 I want her to feel like a kid -- I want her to trust that her parents can protect her and that we do have at least some of the answers.  When I was a child, I didn't feel like a kid and I really wanted to.


My kids both feel like kids even though they both know that neither their father or I are perfect, that we are doing the best we can, that we love them deeply and make decisions based on that, but that sometime we later figure out something new. We don't have all the answers. Not even close.

 

I think your goal to keep your child, gifted or not, in the dark about the fact that you don't have all the answers ain't gonna work. She's going to figure out anyway, so give up and be honest. She can still be the kid and you can still be the adult. You can be the adult who is honest about the fact that you are always learning new stuff, and she can be a kid who respects that her mom has a broader experience than she does. She can still feel safe and loved and kid-like even if you are honest.

 

post #10 of 26
Thread Starter 

Thank-you so much to everyone who has taken the time to respond so far!  I appreciate all of the insight and it has all been useful. thanks.gif I just want to add a few things to keep it coming.

 

I probably didn't give enough info about my concerns.  My post was seeming long to me so I tried to keep it brief, but I did try to make the following things clear:

Quote:
Originally Posted by BennyPai View Post

  I can't say it is necessarily bad that she read some of this particular book.    Anyway, it comes from an angle of respecting children's feelings and I'm glad that she knows that is our goal.  It will probably be good to discuss it with her once DP and I have talked about it.


  I want her to feel like a kid -- I want her to trust that her parents can protect her and that we do have at least some of the answers.  When I was a child, I didn't feel like a kid and I really wanted to.

Again, I don't think it is bad that she read some of this particular book.  And, again,  I think it would be good to discuss it with her, and even to move forward discussing our family together.  We do hold family meetings every other week and I was hoping to form some ideas for our next discussion.

Also, I have no illusions that any child would think that their parent has all of the answers.  I stated that I'd like her to trust that we have at least some of them. DP and I have been attachment parenting for over seven years and it has led us to have open communication with our girls, and I feel that their independence is a healthy thing.  We've never had to deal with separation anxiety or spend the whole day entertaining our children because they're comfortable exploring on their own.


It is when things like safety rules are disregarded that I tend to get nervous about DD's confidence in having all of her own answers. 

For example:  7yo dd recently disappeared with her 7yo cousin and scared me half to death.  We were visiting in my sister's unfamiliar neighborhood when they decided to follow a stream quite far one afternoon while they were supposed to be remaining in earshot - even climbing up to the road to cross over a small bridge.  My BIL and I found just their shoes and a backpack beside the stream. When we found the children- past the bridge, past a beaver dam -- they both felt that they had all of the answers and it didn't bother them at all that safety rules had been broken because they figured they had it covered.  (7yo cousin said he had a pair of scissors in his pocket in case they needed to confront a stranger, etc.)

 

Safety rules was the topic of our last family meeting.  In the past, we've discussed DD's fits and the way we respond to them - including the ways we wish we hadn't responded.  It doesn't happen often, but DD has mild sensory issues and she can fly into a fit of rage over things that we don't necessarily see coming.  Full-out, screaming, drooling, kicking, punching rage.  If it happens at home, I walk away and give her alone time to cool off.  In public/at a holiday gathering in someone else's home/restaurant that is not always possible.  I don't mind discussing this with her later.  In fact, it gives me some insight that helps us all in the future.

 

Again:  THANK-YOU so much for all of the responses so far!  It is much more than I have been able to find among folks I've met IRL.
 

 

post #11 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by BennyPai View Post

Our problems with this particular DD stem from her challenging our rules/decisions.  DD's sensory issues have come into play as well.  I want her to feel like a kid -- I want her to trust that her parents can protect her and that we do have at least some of the answers.  When I was a child, I didn't feel like a kid and I really wanted to.

I wonder, too, about how much information she might be exposed to that is age-inappropriate for her.  We have parental controls on the computer and I don't keep my adult-appropriate reading around generally.  What else should we be doing?

 

On a side-note:  I'd love some parenting book suggestions that might be helpful for our family.


I agree that I wouldn't think twice about my kids reading "How To Talk...". It's got those silly cartoons and almost looks like a kids book. I'm more concerned about my girls reading some of our grown-up fiction and other books. The only parenting books that I have that I would feel concerned about w/ regard to my dds would be ones with titles that make it sound like something is wrong with the kid—for example, "Your Explosive Child" by Ross Greene is a really great book, very gentle and appropriate, but I would hope that title wouldn't make them feel like there was something wrong with them.

 

I think it's really a family decision about some "age-inappropriate" material. I don't hide my novels, but I do have them in my bedroom. My girls love to look through all my magazines which mostly reside in the bathroom :) . We don't subscribe to a newspaper anymore, but I do keep up with the news online and if I leave the browser window open (love my tabs) they often sit down in my chair (esp my 10 yr old) and check out the headlines. Often there are stories that I would just as soon they didn't read like a murder suicide or something and I will try to redirect them, but I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with them reading the news if they really want to. They've been really interested in natural disasters (the earthquakes in Haiti and Japan) were big ones and have learned about 9/11. If they're reading a book about how to parent gently in the context of all the other stuff out there (natural disasters, climate change, news headlines) I'm really okay with that. I don't want them exposed to porn, so we do have parental controls on the computers and a limited time that they can be on. Pretty much they are good at following our guidelines, though, and will respect what we ask them to do. 

 

As for your example of following the stream, I would have explained that I was worried and I had asked them to stay where we could hear each other and I really felt disrespected when they went off w/o asking me. I expected them to do as we agreed and when they didn't hold up their end of the agreement I became really concerned and it really wasn't okay — not that they had an adventure, but that they didn't check in. I have kids who just wouldn't do that, though. It's just not in their make-up, especially my 10 yr old. She needs to be close and know that she's where she's supposed to be to feel safe. My 7 yr old is a little more adventurous. Me, at that age, I was all over the place. My mom grew up on a farm and I think that influenced her willingness to let me roam. I used to traipse through the woods behind our house well out of earshot all by myself all the time. My mom was much more comfortable with that than I would be, but I guess it was a different time then and she was going on her experiences in an even more different time. 

 

As for parenting books, you might like "Last Child in the Woods" by Richard Louv, any of Anthony Wolfe's parenting books (he's a very quick read that your 7 yr old may enjoy), and one of my faves is "Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles" by Kurcinka. You might also like to check out some of Marshall Rosenberg's work on Non Violent Communication. 

 

hth

post #12 of 26

I understand that she needs to trust you and feel like you will keep her safe.

 

I don't think reading parenting books should take away from that. The only way it would is we assume that parents naturally know what to do and reading a book is a sign of weakness. Instead I'd see it as a demonstration that you take your job as a parent seriously. I read a lot of cookbooks - it doesn't mean I'm a bad cook or that my family shouldn't trust that I know what I'm doing in the kitchen.

post #13 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by BennyPai View Post

It is when things like safety rules are disregarded that I tend to get nervous about DD's confidence in having all of her own answers. 

For example:  7yo dd recently disappeared with her 7yo cousin and scared me half to death.  


For me the focus of a discussion about this type of incident would be on empathy, rather than on questioning her competence. Just because she feels confident in her ability to handle risk doesn't mean she has the right to disregard your feelings and scare you half to death. You were told she'd be within earshot, and when she wasn't you got very worried that something had happened. That's what parents do -- they love their kids so much that when they inexplicably vanish, they panic. It was very unkind of her and her cousin to put the adults through that kind of panic. The fact that they were fine after all does not take away that period of awful anxiety that the adults had to endure. Their decision to wander was an unkind decision. When she's about to take it upon herself to disregard rules and agreements she needs to think through not only "can I keep myself safe?" but "what repercussions will my breaking this agreement have on the other people in my life?"

 

Questioning her competence will not likely get through to her. She'll rationalize her way out of those questions. Her self-centredness and lack of consideration of your feelings are where I would put the focus. Not in a punitive or mean-spirited way. But in a clear informative way. "This is just how parents feel in these situations. It's very upsetting for us: we imagine the worst because we are programmed to worry and protect our children from all the bad stuff. You need to learn to think your decisions through from other people's point of view too. You are not yet doing a very good job of that. I hope you will do better in future."

 

Miranda

post #14 of 26

I think that when you have a very bright child, safety rules are more likely to be followed if you explain the logic.  Break down your rules as to the reasons why, as in "We need to know specifically where you are so that if you were ever to be hurt and unable to walk for help we would know where to look.  We also need you to be back by X time so we can check in and find out where you are going next".  Explaining your feelings is good, too, but logic is likely to be on par for both of you.  Both my older children (both gifted) follow rules much more consistently for people who explain why.  Take advantage of the good reading skills and awareness and use it to show your daughter where your point of view comes from And I wouldn't worry about the parenting books, etc.  I read adult books by age 7 and have no permanent scarring, lol, and I know many others with this experience.  My mother talked about the things I read, and it made all the difference.  Guided exposure to the "adult" world can be very developmentally appropriate.

post #15 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by FarmerBeth View Post
 "We need to know specifically where you are so that if you were ever to be hurt and unable to walk for help we would know where to look."


But see, there were two of them. Surely they wouldn't both break their ankles at the same moment? So ... they were good to go, they've got that covered.

 

My little rationalizers could always come up with logical explanations of why they'd be safe. The one consideration they couldn't wriggle out of though was "Parents worry: It may seem silly to you, but it's what it means to be a parent."

 

Miranda

 

post #16 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post
The one consideration they couldn't wriggle out of though was "Parents worry: It may seem silly to you, but it's what it means to be a parent."

 

Miranda

 


this.  My kids understand that I get seriously freaked out if I don't know where they are because they can image how they would feel if they *thought* they knew were I was, but I wasn't there. If, for example, they thought I was somewhere in the house but I had left and gone to the store without telling them, and then they realized I was just GONE and they didn't know where I was, how long I had been gone, when I was coming back, or if I was safe. They get how horrid that would be for them, so they can understand how I feel about knowing where they are.

 

When my children were younger, I kept up with all their reading, but that quickly became quite impossible. Letting go of that was part of allowing them to blossom, though it was a little difficult for me at first because it was a loss of control.

 

post #17 of 26

I am wondering, did you ask her what made her interested in the book?  And maybe what she "took" from it? 

post #18 of 26
Thread Starter 

It is very helpful to have the insight of other parents!  thumb.gif  I've been overwhelmed with DD, and it can be difficult to see clearly when one is overwhelmed.  dizzy.gif  DP and I have read this thread together and it has sparked productive conversation!   Thanks for the book suggestions!  I'm already searching for used copies.  With the older girls in school, I may even have more time to read them outside the bathroom.  lol.gif

 

We have been leaving notes on the dry erase board, and DD is much more responsive.  She started second grade last Wednesday, and the distraction has lessened a lot of the tension in our home.  DD is loving second grade, so she has been much more cooperative with our routine, wanting to be rested for the early morning and on time for school.  DP and I are going to talk about personal responsibility at our next family meeting, which we've decided to hold weekly rather than bi-weekly now that our summer chaos is past.  We'll make our usual request for input from the girls - hopefully we'll get a more serious response than the usual:  "More candy!" or "More TV!".  We'll also re-visit safety and discuss How To Talk...

 

 

In not-quite-related news:  Since my last post, my two older DDs encountered a yellow jacket nest while playing in the woods with the neighbors.  They were confused, terrified, and in so much pain.  The bees followed them home and inside the house.  My 6yo DD had over 20 stings, and 7yo DD had 15.  I've never heard sounds as horrific as the ones that came out of them last weekend. yikes.gif They both did everything I asked and I was able to get them stripped down, rinsed, remove stingers, take doses of benadryl, dress, and lead them to the car -- past the bees -- to head to the ER all within about 10 minutes.  Even my 2yo DD seemed to understand the seriousness of the situation and cooperated fully.  (6yo DD had a hugely swollen lip and has had other allergies so I wasn't taking any chances!)  Both girls snuggled with DP and me throughout the night, waking from nightmares and asking more questions to ease their minds about the bees.    The experience was awful for us all, and I'm working on informing them more about bees so that they will understand what happened and hopefully not develop long-term fears.  I can say that I am sure 7yo DD has a better understanding now of the types of unexpected dangers one might encounter and why it is good not to wander far from an adult -- the girls weren't out of earshot or breaking any rules this time, though.  What a harsh lesson.  I would not have wished the experience on anyone, especially children.  greensad.gif

 

 

post #19 of 26

Poor girls!  I'm glad they got through it safely.  Really scary and tough stuff!

post #20 of 26

Yes to the logic explanations.  It works for some kids but not all.  But usually the eldest, IME.  I'm sorry your littles had been stung by many bees...

 

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