Raising A Kid Who’s Just Like You

Flickr, Creative Commons, Mikey-A-Tucker
Flickr, Creative Commons, Mikey-A-Tucker

What do you do when you’re excruciatingly sensitive, severely intense, outrageously curious, and wildly imaginative and you’re raising a kid who is JUST LIKE YOU?

Do you– run away from home? Move to a state where marijuana is legal? Outsource your child to India? Create a reality TV show?

Maybe.

Are there other options?

Yep.

First, understand that you and your child are like this because you have rainforest minds. In the research on giftedness, you’ll find these characteristics described. They’re called overexcitabilities (OE). Named by the Polish psychiatrist K. Dabrowski.

Then, learn how your overexcitabilities can be understood, celebrated, managed and lovingly contained when necessary. (like when you’re in the supermarket and you’d rather not start sobbing over the asparagus or when your child is at school and s/he would rather not start sobbing in front of the school bully)

Share what you learn with your child.

Understand– The rainforest mind is about more-ness. More questions. More insight. More sounds. More colors. More meltdowns. Not only is your cognitive ability generally running faster, wider and deeper but many of your other traits are supersized as well.

Celebrate– Wouldn’t it be a different world if all humans cried when their classmates were hurt on the playground? Wouldn’t it be a different world if all humans cared deeply about justice and fairness? Wouldn’t it be a different world if all humans preferred Jane Austen to Justin Bieber?

Manage and lovingly contain– I’m not talking about dumbing down here. Or stifling. Or shrinking. What I mean is that there are times when you’ll want to adjust your speed so that your communication is understood. You’ll want to wait until you’re in a safe place before unleashing your frustrations. You’ll want to learn how to keep your anxiety from overwhelming your body. You’ll want to sleep. So when you want to do these things, it’ll be useful to have developed some strategies.

Flickr Creative Commons United Way of Massachusetts
Flickr Creative Commons United Way of Massachusetts

And finally, raising a child like you may be both wonderful and terrible. Your child’s sweet vulnerability will scare you with the weight of extraordinary responsibility. The unexamined baggage from your own childhood will reappear and grab you by the throat. And your child’s overexcitabilities will dance with your own, to create an excruciatingly outrageously wild LOVE that will change you. Completely.

_____________________

To my blogEEs: Tell us in the comments about your experiences as a parent of a gifted child. How do you manage your child’s OEs and yours?

This post is part of a blog hop from Gifted Homeschoolers Forum. Click on the image below to see more posts on parenting OEs and twice-exceptional gifted kids.

Click on this image.
Click on this image.

 


Author: Paula Prober

I’m a psychotherapist and consultant in private practice based in Eugene, Oregon. I specialize in international consulting with gifted adults and parents of gifted children. I’ve been a teacher and an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon and a frequent guest presenter at Oregon State University and Pacific University. I’ve written articles on giftedness for the Eugene Register-Guard, the Psychotherapy Networker, Advanced Development Journal and online for psychotherapy dot net, Rebelle Society, Thrive, Introvert Dear, and Highly Sensitive Refuge. My first book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, is a collection of case studies of gifted clients along with many strategies and resources for gifted adults and teens. My second book, Journey Into Your Rainforest Mind: A Field Guide for Gifted Adults and Teens, Book Lovers, Overthinkers, Geeks, Sensitives, Brainiacs, Intuitives, Procrastinators, and Perfectionists is a collection of my most popular blog posts along with writing exercises for self-exploration and insight.

38 responses to “Raising A Kid Who’s Just Like You”

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  1. Overexcitabilities — Can’t Live With Them, Can’t Live Without Them | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] Overexcitabilities. Those pesky little traits that make your friends roll their eyes, relatives recommend medication and neighbors head home early. Maybe you talk fast and often about your passion for stackable brain specimen coasters. Maybe you cry over the Facebook video of the adorable four year old telling his mother why he must become a vegetarian. Maybe you can imagine 100s of ways your child could be abducted by aliens on a Sunday afternoon. Maybe you can’t sleep because the room is too hot, the sheets are too rough and the gentle breeze is too loud. […]


  2. My Overexcitable Hair | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] my last post, I briefly explained “overexcitabilities.”  (OEs) The expression comes from […]


  3. paulaprober Avatar
    paulaprober

    Holbart. Thank you so much for that feedback about my writing and SE. I never would have thought of that. I love that my writing style soothes the nervous system.


  4. After the GHF December Blog Hop | Sprite's Site

    […] Raising a Kid Who’s Just Like You ~ Your Rainforest Mind (Paula Prober) http://yourrainforestmindbbwpc.wpcomstaging.com/2014/12/15/parenting-gifted-kids-overexcitabilities/ […]


  5. Franca Avatar
    Franca

    Hi Paula
    Love your posts and I relate to every single one of them. I have never been tested for giftedness but I’m most certainly interested in figuring out what is really at the source of my MUCH of every single thing. I would be absolutely SHOCKED if I was told that I’m gifted because I’ve never really excelled in school and was often told by teachers that I was capable of much much more. I am super companionate, gentle hearted , extremely sensitive, cry for every thing, don’t relate to the outside world, strong desire to help others, injustices make me crazy but I’ve never excelled in school. Paula could there be any thing else that is really wrong with me like ie: crazy, bipolar, depressed etc. reason being in order to get tested its quite an investment.
    Regards
    Franca


    1. paulaprober Avatar
      paulaprober

      Hi Franca. If you relate to all of my posts, odds are really good that you’re gifted!! There could be so many reasons you didn’t excel in school. I will write more about that in another post. You aren’t the only one with that question. But basically, students who get straight As in school may be high achievers but not necessarily gifted. You don’t necessarily need to get tested. You’d want to read about bipolar disorder, depression, etc. to see if those diagnoses apply or see a counselor if you’re having symptoms that concern you. You can be both gifted and bipolar, etc. But perhaps it all can be explained by your rainforest mind!


  6. holbart Avatar
    holbart

    Regarding the role of movement and the freeze state that is referenced in your strategies link, Somatic Experiencing therapy is an entire approach to helping people “come out of freeze” in order to complete defensive flight and fight responses that get locked up in the body through trauma. Unlike many talk therapies, it assists individuals in regulating the nervous system through the portal of sensation, or the “felt sense.” The interesting thing is that people will often experience the shaking experience that you mention almost involuntarily when discharging traumatic energy. This is seen in animals in the wild, as well.

    I am intrigued by the overlap of over-excitabilities and the concept of “activation,” as described by the approach. I think gifted people have a broader range of what is functional for them than the more typical nervous system. I like the idea of learning how to not let anxiety overwhelm the body, as you mention in your link. I think that is a pretty good definition of an over-activated nervous system, from an SE perspective.

    Anyways, If I am sounding a bit like an infomercial, it’s because I’ve gone through the first two levels of the training, which is quite extensive. Here is a link to the site, which also provides a list of providers for those who might be interested: http://traumahealing.org/about-se.php Feel free to take or toss it.

    I do think work needs to be done to educate SE practitioners about the unique challenges of the gifted nervous system. Sometimes the intellectual over-excitability, in particular, gets a bad rap, which,of course, makes me angry. I also don’t think SE practitioners often understand that gifted folks just have a bigger amplitude of functionality. Nonetheless, I do think SE can be helpful for helping gifted folks find their own unique range of functionality, especially when “Too Much” means too much for your own emotional well-being.


    1. paulaprober Avatar
      paulaprober

      Holbart, Thanks for sharing this. I’m so glad you’re taking the training. I love the SE approach and use parts of it in my practice although I haven’t had the comprehensive training. Perhaps you can educate your teachers about the differences for the gifted so they’ll be better able to understand the difference between overexcitabilities and a trauma response. SE is definitely helpful for gifted clients with traumatic experiences. (and with the sensitivities, sometimes things that may not be so traumatic for regular folks can feel traumatic for the gifted.)


      1. holbart Avatar
        holbart

        That’s so neat that you use SE! That’s encouraging to hear. One of the reasons I was so excited about your blog was because I noticed that you seemed to write in a manner that assists the nervous system in settling – light and loose, affirming and realistic. To use SE speak, your writing is wonderfully titrated. Thanks for the gift you give our nervous systems!


  7. holbart Avatar
    holbart

    For all the gifted kiddos out there, a little holiday classic.


  8. lstory Avatar
    lstory

    Like this new post. i would like it on facebook, if I was on facebook!! BTW, how is the harp playing coming?? 4 days to go to freedom!! love you, PPF


  9. jofreitag Avatar
    jofreitag

    Love this post, Paula!
    I did once write a series of posts about an imaginary reality show The Survivor – Gifted Island game -like a cross between Survivor, Big Brother, The Amazing Race and the show about the camp for badly behaved teenagers.
    It is played by teams of one parent, one teacher and one gifted or 2E kid.
    You don’t get voted off the Island – you just have to stay there and survive and everybody gets to watch how you cope and laugh or cry about it.


    1. paulaprober Avatar
      paulaprober

      Wow, Jo. That could get wild!!


  10. auroraremember Avatar
    auroraremember

    Ha ha! I love your introduction! Yes, raising a child who is just as intense as you is an adventure. Combine the different intensities of two parents and it’s double the fun!


    1. paulaprober Avatar
      paulaprober

      Yes, Aurora. I’m sure you and your hubby are both super intense (and lovely). Thanks for the tutorial on Pinterest. I think I get it better now. Don’t think I’ll use it too much, though. I have to have some limit to my online activities!!
      Oops, Aurora–I didn’t mean hubby. I meant your fella.


      1. auroraremember Avatar
        auroraremember

        Not hubby anymore, but yes my boy’s got multiple generations of intensity on both sides. 🙂 Yeah, I don’t spend too much time on Pinterest these days, but I do try to pin my own posts, and those from you and other bloggers on gifted adults I know of when I think of it.


  11. Gail Post, Ph.D. Avatar
    Gail Post, Ph.D.

    Beautifully written – really conveys what it is like to see yourself reflected back in your child’s experience.


    1. paulaprober Avatar
      paulaprober

      Thank you, Gail. I’m really enjoying finding my voice through blogging. And I always enjoy reading what you have to say.


  12. Paula Wilkes Consulting Avatar
    Paula Wilkes Consulting

    I really enjoyed this post.

    On Monday, December 15, 2014, Your Rainforest Mind wrote:

    > paulaprober posted: ” What do you do when you’re > excruciatingly sensitive, severely intense, outrageously curious, and > wildly imaginative and you’re raising a kid who is JUST LIKE YOU? Do you– > run away from home? Move to a state where marijuana is legal? Outsource > your”


    1. paulaprober Avatar
      paulaprober

      Thanks, my friend!


  13. Celi Trépanier Avatar
    Celi Trépanier

    I read and I giggled, I read and I smiled, I read and I nodded my head. Then I read “Justin Bieber”, and I just lost it.

    Love, love, love the way you weave beauty, humor, truth–and Justin Bieber– into a truly wonderful post!


    1. paulaprober Avatar
      paulaprober

      Glad to hear you lost it, Celi!! That was my goal. 🙂 I’ve always been a pretty serious person but somehow blogging makes me funny. I always appreciate hearing your thoughts.


  14. Caitie @ My Little Poppies Avatar
    Caitie @ My Little Poppies

    I love this, Paula. I am highly sensitive, always have been. It took having my son and recognizing his giftedness to fully embrace my sensitivity for what it is: a strength. Yes, I may cry at the drop of a hat but I *feel* more than others and that is a gift if channeled appropriately. Now, I recognize my daughter is the same. I am determined to help her learn to manage and embrace her sensitivity. Thanks for writing!


    1. paulaprober Avatar
      paulaprober

      Yes, sensitivity is such a beautiful thing, Caitie. And thank you for your blog as well.


  15. Julia Avatar
    Julia

    Sweet mother of Abraham Lincoln, you’ve been spying on me again, haven’t you?? LOL! My “muchness” has me spiraling out on the frustration train lately. Can. Not. Get. My. Feet. On. The. Ground… and my eldest is such a mixed bag of tricks that I want to abandon homeschooling him, yet I know his asynchronous eccentricities would make public school a terrible experience for him. Moving to Colorado and running away to India have both crossed my mind, haha 🙂


    1. paulaprober Avatar
      paulaprober

      Yes, Julia. I’m spying on you. You are pretty fascinating, you know. (pot is now legal in Oregon, so you could come here…)


  16. patchworkpoppies Avatar
    patchworkpoppies

    Reblogged this on patchwork poppies and commented:
    Wonderful post by Paula Prober. Oh how I can relate all too well.


    1. paulaprober Avatar
      paulaprober

      Thanks, as always, Nicole!


  17. patchworkpoppies Avatar
    patchworkpoppies

    If I had a crowd* not crows watching.


    1. paulaprober Avatar
      paulaprober

      Crows watching might be a good thing…


  18. patchworkpoppies Avatar
    patchworkpoppies

    How did you enter my mind? 😉 this is a wonderful post. I really try and tell myself, if I had a crows watching how would I behave? And then I compose myself… though sometimes easier said than done. When the TV is going and the kids are screaming or making droning noises that makes ones head shut down, and at the same time your husband is trying to talk and suddenly a child spills something sticky all over the living room it’s in moments like that, that I have to make a choice to contain my volcano. In my head I think of running far and screaming loud but in reality I breathe and chose to contain the madness.

    Thank you for your wonderful post. It really hits home


    1. paulaprober Avatar
      paulaprober

      Ah, yes, contain the volcano! (could also be OK to go out later and scream…in the car? or in the shower when no one is home?) It’s helpful to find ways to release frustration, too. Ways that are safe but that get the anxiety out.


  19. Maggie Brown Avatar
    Maggie Brown

    Yes, celebrate intensely! My ‘child’ is about to leave the nest. I’m very aware that I have 2 more months to share moments and days with him. Sharing moments of joy, curiosity, bewilderment, sadness, outrage and so so so much hilarity have made these years precious for both of us. What I didn’t know years ago was how each tiny drop of shared experience with such a child would soothe and heal the wounds of my own past and allow me to fully embrace my own intensity. My son and I have had great fun together. I wish all parents the same joy.


    1. paulaprober Avatar
      paulaprober

      Me, too, Maggie. I wish all parents joy! And it’s an important point that you make–how raising a child can also heal the wounds of your past.


  20. Elaine Avatar
    Elaine

    Wonderful post, Paula! All things I need to remember on a daily basis. Adjust your speed, slow your roll, whoa Nelly!


    1. paulaprober Avatar
      paulaprober

      Thanks, Elaine.


  21. byamtich Avatar
    byamtich

    Love this in particular: “Share what you learn with your child.” The rainforest fruit doesn’t fall far from the rainforest tree.


    1. paulaprober Avatar
      paulaprober

      Ha! So true, Bob.

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