Sunday, December 15, 2013

How to nurture your extra intense child?

In his new book, Enjoying the Gift of Being Uncommon: Extra Intelligent, Intense, and Effective , Willem Kuipers writes about XIP ( Extra intense persons).

XIP children share these four characteristics 
  1. High Intellectually ability in a given subject or field like chess, maths, or music
  2. Incurably inquisitive in anything they do
  3. Require high degree of autonomy: they seem to have their own minds to take their own decisions
  4. Possess excessive zeal in pursuit of their interests be it sports, arts or a s
As you would notice, Willem Kuipers definition of gifted-ness is not confined to intellectual ability or IQ. It includes conative traits like passion and character traits like inquisitiveness and autonomy. In other words, as discussed earlier, talent or gift includes the 3Cs of talent

I happen to meet many such children now a days. Parents often approach me because they note the intensity of their young child before they realize that their child is developing at a faster rate.

When they are progressing appropriately in their classes, they look normal although they may also seem to be different and compulsive in their behaviour. Please also read this blog of prodigies. Some of these children are also autistic on a range of spectrum. Please read this blog to tackle the wrong interpretations of autism. But when these extra intense children lose their path, they seem to display the worst of their behaviour: disobedience to elders, ruled by their changing whims and fancies, breaking the rules at the drop of hat, and always seem to be too much in a hurry. Sometimes, the child keeps the frustration inside and rebels against everyone and everything.

Parents of these children follow these three strategies to help their intense children: 

1. Understand that these children's emotional ability lags behind intellectual ability

Although their intellectual ability is growing at a rapid rate, their emotional ability always lags behind. And this causes most of the problems for these intense children. They are not in synch with their age-group children, their aspirations get mixed with competence, and they often have no cognizance of what they can do and what they cannot. Their social competence is often lacking.

Parents have to remember that their child is of young age although he or she may seem to accomplish something unusual sometimes. Even though they are doing wonderfully well in some fields, they have to be given the space to fail in relationships and in managing their stress as well as positive emotions. Although they seem to know what they want, parents have to remember that they are equally scared of failing on a chosen path. They need help in understanding and finding the right friends.  They are also seem to gel with elder children because the older children display more emotional maturity. 

2. Find an avenue, even if it is arts,music or sports, to express their creativity and high level of energy 

Many a times, it takes a long time to find a domain that will do justice to the child's talent. When this happens it presents a curious problem to parents. If a child is unable to express his abilities, he or she feels frustrated and vents out his frustration in dysfunctional manner. It is therefore prudent to find an avenue in which the child can dissipate his energies, even though the avenue may not lead the student to the final destination of his domain such as Engineering or medicine. For instance, students with extra ordinary cognitive abilities in mathematics, seem to love music. Parents of these students should let them develop their interest in music, even though music may not be the final domain in which the student will flourish.

3. Follow the child's cognitive growth closely and feed it on timely basis

This is easier said than done. It is important for the parent to understand what her child can do well and help her find a teacher or an activity where she is challenged in that activity. For instance, if the child is very good in logical reasoning, it is important to introduce him to the 'computing world' so that he can not only feels challenged enough, but also finds a medium to 'consume his energy and attention' on his own. The same is true if you find the child is good in numerical reasoning, spatial reasoning or verbal reasoning. Some parents find this difficult because it forces them to understand the underlying principles of learning and development and actively participate in their child's development. Some parents find it easier to take help of developmental coach who can understand the child well and appropriately find a path that suits the child's complex and idiosyncratic personality.