My youngest daughter who is 5 just started playing soccer last week. She was so excited. Her grandma took her shopping and together they picked out matching cleats, shin guards, and a brand new soccer ball. She was so excited to finally join her older sister in the sport. For days leading up to the first practice, it was all she could talk about.
So imagine my surprise as we got to the field on that first day of practice when she was overcome with fear and hid behind my legs while the coaches introduced themselves and the girls to each other. As the coach called them over to get started , she refused to budge and tears started streaming down her face. I noticed my emotions begin to flare, there was that feeling of being judged by other parents for my kid who refused to go on the field but also the protective mama instinct creeping in who just wanted to keep my child safe and was doubting if this was such a good idea..
I looked down at my 5 year old and really focused on her. I saw in her face that she just needed time. I got quiet and pushed out the thoughts of being judged and was the parent my child needed me to be at that moment. I pulled the coaches aside and told them to please not rush her. I could tell they didn't agree but that was okay
My daughter and I stood out there on the field together for 45 minutes of that practice. I asked her every once in a while if she was ready to go play but I didn't force her. She and I kicked the ball a bit together and I just patiently waited. Finally during the last few minutes of practice she slowly joined the other girls and started to play. She did it in her own time and in her own way.
Gifted kids are complex and often intense. They can be intellectually light years beyond their peers and emotionally years behind. We know this. The thing is after we have read a few books about gifted and attended a few talks- we want to know more. We want to go beyond giftedness and learn exactly what to do, which words to use, what specific actions to take. These kids push us so far out of our comfort zone as parents, there was no training for this job. Learn to trust yourself.
I understand that parents of gifted kids need specific tools that we can begin using to help us better support our kids in living their lives. How do we respond when they have a meltdown, what specifically do we do when they refuse to listen to us, how exactly do we manage their huge emotions.
Life with gifted kids can be a daily emotional and mental struggle. Our kids are often intense and demand a crazy amount of our energy. Things that could go so smoothly for a parent with a neuro-typical kid, can cause an uproar in a family with gifted kids. I get it, I have 4 of them myself!!
My advice is simple but not easy. Get grounded. Do your own work. Stay calm yourself. Be gentle. Listen to your child. Get down on their level. Use less words. Meet your child where they are. Be present and engaged. Practice patience. Fill your own bucket so you can fill theirs.
Learn to see your child - beyond giftedness.