Living With & Understanding Your Gifted Child. Presentation created by Deanna Crackel , M. Ed . based on the book Living With Intensity e dited by Susan Daniels, Ph.D & Michael M. Piechowski. Why is my child so different?.
Presentation created by Deanna Crackel, M. Ed. based on the book Living With Intensity edited by Susan Daniels, Ph.D & Michael M. Piechowski
When most people think of the term “gifted student” , they think of strong test scores, and a mini-adult personality. As parents of gifted children, you know that stereotype is rarely a true reflection of your child. There are times when gifted children demonstrate heightened emotions, obsessions, and sensitivities that may provoke many parents to silently think, “I wish he would be normal.”
It is that very concept of what is normal for a gifted human being, that lies at the heart of the concept that is the foundation of today’s presentation: positive disintegration.
KazimierzDabrowski, a Polish psychiatrist and psychologist who also held a Masters degree in Education, developed a seminal theory called positive disintegration.
The emotional volatility, quixotic passions, and intense fascinations demonstrated by gifted children were not seen by him as abnormal, rather a heightened form of human development.The Genesis of an Idea
The Third Factor
Dabrowski’s theory of multilevelness indicates there are five levels that that one make up the human continuum.
Level I: A state of little inner-reflection, with no development.
Level II: Problems are solved but repetitive, showing little growth. The individual experiences little inner conflict and is initially, largely unaware of the 'higher possibilities of life.'
Level III: A person begins to truly grapple with the frisson between what should be and what is, and inner transformation is begins.
Level IV: Self-actualization takes place when a person follows his or her values consistently.
Level V: When a person is authentic to him or herself while deeply connected to the people around him or herself
Overexcitability is often viewed as overreacting or inappropriate behavior needing to be tempered—”for the good of the child”. This is no less than tampering with the child’s very self. More often than not, aspects of intensity are mistaken for indicators of potential pathology rather than as signs of strong developmental potential.
~Susan Daniels, PhD., and Michael M. Piechowski, PhD.
Unfortunately, the stronger a student’s overexcitabilities are, the more aware other students, and sometimes adults, are of how different the gifted child is from a typical child. Typically the more noticeable the discrepancy is, the more negative attention a gifted student experiences in his or her peer group.
As a protective response, many students with overexcitabilities try to hide their unique characteristics. They become wary of letting people get to know their authentic self. Some try to fit in by slacking off on school, trying alcohol, drugs, or other self-destructive behavior.
Surplus of energy
rapid speech, marked excitation, intense physical activity (e.g., fast games and sports), pressure for action (e.g., organizing), marked competitiveness
Psychomotor expression of emotional tension
compulsive talking and chattering, impulsive actions, nervous habits (tics, nail biting), workaholism, acting out
Feelings and emotions intensified
positive feelings, negative feelings, extremes of emotion, complex emotions and feelings, identification with others’ feelings, awareness of a whole range of feelings
Strong somatic expressions
tense stomach, sinking heart, blushing, flushing, pounding heart, sweaty palms
Strong affective expressions
inhibition (timidity, shyness), enthusiasm, ecstasy, euphoria, pride, strong affective memory, shame, feelings of unreality, fears and anxieties, feelings of guilt, concern with death, depressive and suicidal moods
Capacity for strong attachments, deep relationships
strong emotional ties and attachments to persons, living things, places, attachments to animals, difficulty adjusting to new environments, com passion, responsiveness to others, sensitivity in relationships, loneliness
Well-differentiated feelings toward self
inner dialogue and self-judgment
Free play of the imagination
frequent use of image and metaphor, facility for invention and fantasy, facility for detailed visualization, poetic and dramatic perception, animistic and magical thinking
Capacity for living in a world of fantasy
predilection for magic and fairy tales, creation of private worlds, imaginary companions, dramatization
Spontaneous imagery as an expression of emotional tension
animistic imagery, mixing truth and fiction, elaborate dreams, illusions
Intensified activity of the mind
curiosity, concentration, capacity for sustained intellectual effort, avid reading, keen observation, detailed visual recall, detailed planning
Penchant for probing questions and problem solving
search for truth and understanding, forming new concepts, tenacity in problem solving
thinking about thinking, love of theory and analysis, preoccupation with logic, moral thinking, introspection (but with out self-judgment), conceptual and intuitive integration, independence of thought (some times very critical)
Enhanced sensory and aesthetic pleasure
seeing, smelling, tasting, touching, hearing, delight in beautiful objects, sounds of words, music, form, color, balance
Sensual expression of emotional tension
overeating, sexual over indulgence, buying sprees, wanting to be in the lime light
Be Patient & Realize That Your Child isn’t Being Too _____(fill in the blank)
“You are being too sensitive!” “Stop being so obsessed with___.”
“Why don’t you play sports like your brother?” “Stop being so silly.”
“Our whole family loves to go to the beach. Why wouldn’t you want to go?”
Statements like these continually remind your child that you find their unique personality to be lacking in some way; that they are not acceptable, not understood, and not “normal”.
Like Dorothy, in The Wizard of Oz, your child is on an amazing journey. It is a journey that most likely will be full of tribulations and triumphs. There will be “witches” – people who seek to belittle or exclude your gifted child because he or she is different than the average child. There will be traveling companions – educated professionals, people of similar gifts, and you to share the burden of traveling through this world. The goal is to help your child to get home. Not to the house raised him or her in, rather to the optimal version of him or herself. The road will be daunting and dangerous, but you will be right beside your son or daughter the entire way. Dorothy had the magic within herself to go home, as does your child have the immense potential to become an amazingly spectacular human being. Dabrowski’s theory of Positive Disintegration is just one tool that can help your child get “home”.