Find Joy. Seek Truth. Be Kind.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Terra Firma

Recently on an email group an issue I have dealt with came up. The post went something like this:
"My right brained child felt as if something was 'wrong' or 'missing'. He was profoundly sad." I've had similar experiences with my kids.

Right brained kids are exceptional, in many ways. Most of those ways are easy to understand, visual, kinetic, spacial, learns whole to part, sees the big picture, etc. Other ways can be more difficult. RBers can be highly sensitive, have over-excitabilities, be prone to depression or melancholy, keenly aware of the differences between themselves and others, among other things. There are also those RBers who are what some call "profoundly gifted".

Giftedness comes with certain attributes. It is important to honor and address all those attributes, not just the more socially acceptable intellectual ones. These kids can feel things deeply. I think it's important to respect that, but my experience has been is also really helpful to put it in perspective for them.

Some examples:

Once, when he was 4yo, my middle child refused a piece of chocolate because it was "all space. It's just space between the atoms." He has also felt sad about not having friends who "get" him completely. "You're my best friend Mom, but it's not the same as a real friend" (I posted about the friend issue in an earlier post.) What I have found is that when he is tired and/or stressed his existential angst is highest.

With my tired existentialist, trying to rationalize with him when he's emotional doesn't help. A list of friends and activities or a sensory exploration of the solidness of objects, would just escalate the situation. I have to be very matter of fact (in a loving way). "You're tired. Go to bed. We'll talk in the morning" or "We'll talk about this after you eat." has helped a great deal. Then later I point out how certain things bother him more under certain situations, and we come up with a plan on how to deal with it when it happens. He's given me a control phrase that means "I'm going to take charge now and help you, because you can't help yourself." It gives him a great sense of security knowing that I will take over when he becomes overwhelmed.

Another example is the kid who takes a situation to the extreme in his imagination:
"Mom, look at this rash. Am I going to die?" "A splinter! MOM! I need a doctor." When this started with my oldest I took it very seriously - that just fed energy into the situation. As he got older and this behavior didn't modify, I started responding to these kind of things with humor. I'd look very serious, sad, and loving, and saying something like "Hasn't it been a good life?" "A life is a life, no matter how short" or a brief "It's been good knowing you, kid." The first time he was shocked, but then we laughed together, and now when I do it he can grin and know that if I don't take it seriously he doesn't have to.

We need to honor our children's experiences. We need to learn as much as we can about how they learn and support them with that. We need to learn from the experience of others in similar situations. We also need to be terra firma for our kids, centering them, and helping them realize their connections to the objective world and diverse people around them.

1 comment:

Yvonne said...

What a fantastic post and great book suggestions. My daughter learns differently and it is often frustrating for both of us as her unique qualities become more pronounced.

Thanks so much for you suggestions.