Gifted 5-year-old - Anxious - waking at night - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 3 Old 02-06-2013, 05:34 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi everyone, I just found this forum! My son is gifted. We knew it when he was reading his father's newspaper at 2 years old. Now, at 5 and a half, he's reading at about a 5th-grade-level, loves science and is working his way through pre-algebra (math is his favorite subject).  I'm sure all of you know how it is. He keeps us on our toes!  He's a very happy and well-adjusted little boy. He has many friends at school (a private school which fits his learning needs well), loves imaginative play and Legos and our home life is happy. My husband and I have been together since high school and truly have a wonderful relationship (21 years together now) and Nicholas is an only child - so no sibling rivalry or anything.  I just wanted to give you all some background.


In the last 6 months or so, Nicholas has become obsessed with time. He asks about it constantly. Then it began interrupting his sleep. In the last 4 months, since around October, he's been waking a few times at night, specifically to check the time. He's worried he'll be late for school or late for breakfast, or even late for an afternoon birthday party he attended a few weeks ago. Nicholas has always hummed, since he was a baby. He's very musical and plays piano and violin. I woke up that first night because I heard him humming. He was curled up on the floor beside out bed, on my side, with his pillow and blanket...humming. I asked him why he wasn't in his room and he said, completely nonchalantly, "I can't sleep because I keep wondering what time it is. I don't want to be late for school." I brought him back to his bed and after reassuring him that everything was okay and he wouldn't be late for school, he went to sleep. I even slept on the floor in his room for a few nights. He'll be fine for about two or three night and then it will start up again. I find him on the floor beside our bed constantly at 2am or 3am usually, at least 5 out of 7 nights a week, weekends included. His teacher also informed us that he's concerned about the time all day long, worried he'll be late for reading time, or eating lunch, late getting outside to be picked up in the afternoon, etc. He has a nanny who has been with him since he was 9 months old, when I returned to work. She only has him 2.5 hours in the afternoons after school. She told us the same thing. He asks her what time it is constantly.  


We've purposely not made it "an issue" with him. But I've talked to his pediatrician five or six times and he's been in therapy now for about six weeks. (not helping). The sleep issue isn't getting any better and now he seems to be slightly worse. A "clean hands" thing started about two weeks ago, constant hand-washing (if we allow it). I'm resisting medicating him, but am worried this could turn into a full-on OCD. I'm REALLY interested to see if any of you have been through anything similar with a gifted child. I keep thinking it's a phase, but frankly I'm dealing with severe sleep deprivation now. My husband and I are both very driven people, successful in our careers, but neither of us had any issues like this as children. Neither of us are compulsive about anything, so this is all new to me. 


Thank you!  I would appreciated any feedback. Have a wonderful week everyone. :-)


Victoria B. 

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#2 of 3 Old 02-06-2013, 08:43 PM
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I think this is possibly not a gifted thing per se.  In fact, I see this in children in my practice occasionally and it's sometimes nutrition-related.  Not saying he doesn't eat well, just that maybe something he's eating is irritating his system or running some kind of deficiency.  The thing that tips me in this direction is that he can go 2-3 days without the problem sometimes, and your reassurance (which he can actually understand) is not helping him nor is 4 months of living through NOT being late for this stuff.  Plus, it sounds like the behavior is now kicking it up a notch with the clean hands.  We definitely have the hand-washing problem with our 9yo in the winter (only the winter... wth?) -to the point where, the first year, his hands were red and chapped and painful... it was only in the winter; but the next year we were able to manage it with him without much of a problem (reminders were enough), and this is the third year and it's non-issue at all.  He also had sleep issues, but not anymore.


There are a few things I would do:


* Keep a detailed log of what he takes in, what he puts out, sleep, behavior and activities for a month.  I know that's kind of tedious, but it may be easier to find some kind of pattern or connection with the times that are less bad.


* After keeping a log for a month (so you have a baseline) I would first try some high quality fish oil (I'm partial to Nordic Naturals).  It's good for soothing neurological misfiring.


* The next thing I would try (and NOT simultaneously--so you can identify what produces a change) would be a magnesium supplement.  It has a relaxing/calming effect, but also something most of us run deficient on.


* The last thing that screams out to me would be zinc, although it would definitely be the last one of these things I'd try.


I can send you an Excel-based tracking log if you need one.  It prints out to a single page.


Hope this helps...

Heather - Wife 
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#3 of 3 Old 02-06-2013, 10:51 PM
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I was also going to suggest a magnesium/zinc supplement... it has done wonders for my DS's anxiety.

Also give therapy a bit more time. DS started therapy 4 months ago for his anxiety and other issues, and it was almost 3 full months before I started to see improvement, but then the changes started happening really quickly. One thing I found is that I had to work more closely with the therapist than is typical -- emailing her between sessions to share what's working/not working and updating her on what was going on with DS each week. This really helped her tailor her treatment to DS's specific issues.

It does sound like OCD. I don't know that it's necessarily a gifted issue, though I do notice gifted children often seem more predisposed to anxiety (or maybe just know too much, things they aren't ready to know)....

Dawn Huebner has some workbooks for anxiety issues... ex: this and this... I've only read the first with DS but suspect both would be helpful to your DS. I have had lifelong anxiety issues and based on my own experience, her books seem ideal for dealing with childhood anxiety issues.

Reassurance is sometimes appropriate but can also be a bit of a trap and ultimately reinforce the worries and anxiety. It's a fine line to walk. Even with all of my personal education on anxiety from my own issues and interests, I'm still having a hard time learning just how to help DS manage his. But I do know that it's better to give them lots of tools & education now, rather than just waiting it out!

Co-sleeping is really wonderful when your child actually SLEEPS!! familybed1.gif
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