Emotional Outbursts in gifted children - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 01-09-2007, 06:03 PM - Thread Starter
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I have a situation that came up with my 7 year old ds at school yesterday that I would like to get your take on.

Ds has always been advanced academically, but has issues when it comes to self-control, anger and other emotions. He is the child that would meet a strange kid on the playground and then want to hug them and say “I love you” when we had to leave. He is very intuitive emotionally and almost seems to be able to read your mind, or anticipate your reaction. He is fiercely protective of his loved ones and almost feels as if it is his duty to keep them from harm. He goes so far as to not tell you he is disappointed in something if he thinks it will hurt your feelings. What a terrible burden for a 7 year old to bear.

Yesterday he had a really bad day. First he had to pull cards for talking at lunch and in music. Normally his teacher doesn’t have him pull a card for these offenses because she knows he genuinely struggles with controlling his talking, however, yesterday was a situation where the majority of the class was out of hand and she had everyone who “misbehaved” draw cards. He was very upset because he wasn’t able to anticipate the consequence of his actions because he usually doesn’t have one. So already feeling “unloved” by his teacher he used a scratch he got over the weekend as a reason to see the nurse. Poor guy was just looking for some kind of consolation I guess. Then to top off his great day he got into trouble in after school care. He was playing with a boy who he normally gets along very well with, and started to let himself get out of hand and whacked the boy with his jacket. The teacher took the boys aside and said to my ds “we do not hurt other people”, my son gets upset and says “Yes, I do hurt people” “I’ve already hurt 5 people today” all dramatic like. The teacher knows Ian pretty well and didn’t take it as a threat but more as him being upset with himself, however, the director was visiting the school and overheard him. She required the teacher to document the incident in his file. It is sad that they felt the need to protect themselves “legally” but thankfully this is only in his after school folder and not included in his academic record. Ds doesn’t understand that there actually are kids out there who bring weapons to school, and threaten/hurt other kids. Those thoughts are so foreign to him.
I didn’t say anything to him until he we got home and I asked him about his day. He burst into tears and cried for a long time before I could even get him to tell me what happened. He finally told me the story and said “I hate my school” “I want to go to a different school, a nice school”. I know he doesn’t hate his school and his reaction was more out of disappointment with himself than anything.

What worries me most is that more and more lately this seems to be a typical reaction to discipline. He takes everything so personal and to such an extreme. If he is calling his brother names or talking back and he gets into trouble he will say something like “I’m never talking again”. My ex-husband was also very much like this and I can’t help but be nervous about the similarities. My ex-husband spent most of his life blaming himself for all the wrong around him and was severely depressed until about a year ago. I hate comparing him to his dad, but then again I don’t want to not get him help if he really is depressed (my ex never got any help from his parents). Do his reactions seem pretty age appropriate? How can help him to understand how to use self-control, and how to deal with his obviously very powerful emotions?
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#2 of 7 Old 01-10-2007, 12:23 AM
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Subbing with no helpful info. My DD also has emotional outbursts that I am having a hard time dealing with . . .not sure if it is related to giftedness or not, though (I don't even know if she is gifted). Have you read The Highly Sensitive Child? That has been recommended to me and is on my "to read" list.

to you and your DS

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#3 of 7 Old 01-11-2007, 01:48 PM
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I would second the recommendation for reading that book. My son is much younger so I can't speak to the age appropriateness of your ds behavior/reaction, but my son reacts very similarly. Once one thing goes wrong he has a hard time getting back on track without some positive intervention. Even something simple like a classmate not wanting to hold his hand when they walk down the hall can spiral the rest of his short preschool day out of control (on that day he subsequently tried to bite his teacher when she reminded him not to throw the play dough). And then he will spend a couple weeks saying he doesn't like school anymore. In my son's case his teachers have been great in helping me sort through some sensory issues he has and looking at how those can result in certain situations being triggers. In just a couple months we have been able to head off a lot of the problems.

Sounds like he has great teachers who are willing to work with you. I recommend talking with them and together identifying the triggers for your son. Then you can work with him to develop his self awareness in those situations and help him have a plan. The teachers can be brought on board as facilitators.

Kris wife to Stew and mom to Joey 8/03 who cares for , 2 frogs and a worm
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#4 of 7 Old 01-11-2007, 09:22 PM
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I don't have any specific book recommendations but would suggest you look for information on emotional resilience - or, the ability to bounce back.

Mom to a teenager and a middle schooler.

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#5 of 7 Old 01-11-2007, 10:09 PM
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The Optomistic Child is quite a good book. http://search.barnesandnoble.com/boo...60977092&itm=1
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#6 of 7 Old 01-11-2007, 11:14 PM
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Hugs, mama! Just wanted to say I related sooooo much to your post. My dd is the same way. In fact, her emotional extremes and sensory issues were the main reasons we didn't start her in kindergarten early. She is also really emotionally intuitive and seeks to connect with each person she meets. She will go to the playground or mall play area, meet a few new kids, then get so excited about her "new friends." She will know all their names and even some of their likes/dislikes/personality quirks in a half hours time. It always breaks my heart a little because I know these are new friends whom we will probably never see again.

She also will make statements like your son if she unintentionally hurts someone. Or say, "I'm a bad person," etc. If she accidentally hurts Sofia it takes longer to calm her down than Sofia! I am definitely going to try the book Roar recommended.

One thing we have implemented with Mikaela that has helped her a lot is that when she has a bad day, or even a bad memory from a long time ago, we have her draw a picture of what happened, tell us about it, then tear it up and throw it in the trash. It's a tool she uses often when her emotions are running high. She also had a phone book to tear up for awhile. She mentioned the other day that she would really like another one. It was a safe way for her to release some anger.

I personally can relate to being extremely sensitive to correction or discipline, all the way through junior high and high school!! I always felt it was the end of the world if I got punished for something. One time in 7th grade a few friends and I got to talking and giggling during study hall and had a hard time reining it in even after a couple reprimands. The teacher wrote us all up and was very personally offended that we hadn't obeyed her, saying that we were intentionally disrespectful. I was devastated and wrote her this long letter apologizing and explaining that we just got the giggles! But I still had to have detention. Ah, memories. I think I need to go draw a picture and rip it up.

~Beth, mama to two amazing girls, ages 12 and 6~

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#7 of 7 Old 01-12-2007, 02:00 AM
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Before I start going, I want you to know that I'm not saying that your ds has this, but only that I'm researching anxiety disorders based on a recent testing situation where my ds was definitely not his best.

I've started reading "Freeing Your Child From Anxiety" by Tamara E. Chansky, Ph.D.
I'm not going to do the book justice by trying to synopsize it, but just know that anxiety is a tricky little beast. Anxiety disorders are diagnosed after 6 months of chronic issues, but people can have anxiety tendencies that are beyond the norm for different situations, but are shorter term responses.

Here are some red flags for General Anxiety Disorder (struggle with a system that is over-programmed to find the element of fear or potential for problems in any situation)
1. Always has a list of worries - topics can change daily, needs to know details ahead of time, has pressing questions about logistics.
2. Takes offhand comments literally and seriously
3. Future orientation: elementary school kids worrying if they'll be good drivers.
4. Performance fears: perfectionistic, very afraid of doing the wrong thing, always seeking reassurance, afraid of getting in trouble, fears about failure and consequences of less than perfect performance
5. Social/interpersonal fears: fears that friends don't like them or friends are mad at them; worried about tests or reports.
6. Concerns about family: keeping constant tabs on the status of parents' marriage.
7. Fears about illness: and insignificant symptom may be a sign of serious disease. Concerns about finances and financial reprecussions, how much groceries, doctor's visitis, repairs cost.
8. Consequences of stress: always on edge, looks tense, is difficult to reassure, has difficulty concentrating and sleeping, stomachaches, is distractable, unable to enjoy things, overwhelmed by schedule.

Then there are other anxiety types like phobias, social anxiety, separation anxiety, post traumatic stress, OCD, tics, etc. that all have their own list of red flags. You don't have to have all the flags to have an issue. My personal feeling is that many people would benefit by understanding their own personal reaction to stress and the "self-talk" that goes behind the scenes to make things worse. Your ds might not be depressed but anxious. Just a little food for thought.

Laura - Mom to ds (10) and dd (7) "Time stands still best in moments that look suspiciously like ordinary life." Brian Andreas.

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