Author Archives: Sallie

Personality Types and Homeschooling Stress

Personality Types and Homeschooling Stress

Personality Types and Homeschooling Stress

Do you know your personality type? Do you realize how much your personality type impacts how you interact with people, events and environmental stimuli?

Have you considered how the personality types of the other people in your home impact your homeschooling experiences? Did you ever think that conflicting personality types and homeschooling stress can go hand in hand?

For my 31 Days of Learning Differently Series, Susan Williams wrote a guest post on How Understanding Personality Types Can Improve Your Parent-Child Relationship. If you haven’t read that post, please click over and read it or this post won’t make sense (unless you are already well acquainted with personality types such as those done by Myers-Briggs).

I do want to say that as a Christian I do not believe we are bound to or captive to our personality types. I see them as helpful, general ways to understand how we instinctively function in the world around us. Certainly any parts of our personality type that cause us frustration can be areas for spiritual growth. But thinking about this can be tremendously helpful.

Conflicting Personality Types

So using the type explanations and examples Susan gave us, let’s imagine these two people in a homeschool situation.

Mom:

  • Introvert (thinks and then acts, processes information alone)
  • Sensing (starts at the beginning and completes one step at a time)
  • Thinker (strives for achievement)
  • Judging (lives by schedules)

Child:

  • Extravert (thinks out loud, acts and then thinks)
  • Intuitive (imaginative, creative, jumps in, notices everything new or different)
  • Feeler (strives to help others)
  • Perceiving (postpones decisions, asks a lot of questions, likes to keep options open)

Can you imagine how often this mother and child would clash? Can you imagine how this child could drive this mother nuts? Can you see how this child could be viewed as extremely uncooperative by this kind of mother? Can you imagine the stress for both of them?

The mom would be stressed because the child won’t settle down, focus and just stay on schedule. The child will be frustrated because the mom is constantly trying to push to stay on schedule and Get. Stuff. Done. while the child is too busy thinking about something new and keeping up a steady stream of questions and thoughts about whatever has captured his attention.

Can you see how this one aspect of their relationship (personality type) can cause huge amounts of friction every. single. day?

Mom thinks that she’s a terrible homeschooler/parent (and Christian) because:

  • she is constantly struggling to keep the child on task
  • they aren’t getting through the curriculum quickly enough and get behind
  • her child seems to only be interested in exploring every new thing that captures his attention instead of the lessons she has meticulously planned
  • she is constantly frustrated and short-tempered with child

Child thinks he is a bad child and student because:

  • mom is constantly upset with him and becomes frustrated every time they do schoolwork together
  • he struggles to stay on task when she asks him to do things he finds boring
  • mom gets mad every time he asks an interesting question or makes an observation about something not related to the lesson

Now understand that these are just two of the sixteen possible personality types (ISTJ and ENFP). And most of the members of your family will have different personality types.

Can you see how this can create some tremendous stress in a homeschooling situation?

The truth of the matters is there is nothing wrong with either one of them. They simply approach life and learning differently. They will have to find a way to make it work in such a way that they can both be happy.

And the reality is that it is up to the mom to adapt to her child’s learning style and needs more than it is up to the child to adapt to what the mother wants while at the same time maintaining a mom-friendly homeschool approach. It is definitely a balancing act.

If you’ve never figured out your own personality type, I highly recommend taking the time to do so. It will help you understand the way you approach life, home, work, homeschooling, your children, your spouse, etc. Even if you can’t clearly identify the personality type of each child in your home, you should be able to get a general idea of each one.

If you don’t have a lot of time, simply go through the options in Susan’s post and see which way you and your children lean. If you want to know more, there are numerous short tests you can take online that will give you an idea of what you might be. If you are really committed to finding out, you can be professionally tested.

Once you figure out your child’s personality type, you can begin to make adjustments to the way you structure your homeschooling with each one. You might discover better ways to structure their learning, how to change the types of lessons you give them (or don’t), and how you deliver their lessons.

And in case you were wondering, I’m an INFJ, David is an ISFP, and I’m guessing Caroline is an ENFP.

This is part of my Overcoming Homeschooling Stress series.

Overcoming Homeschooling Stress - A Series

Overcoming Homeschooling Stress - A Series

Overcoming Homeschooling Stress – A Series

Overcoming Homeschooling Stress - A Series

I’m a proponent of home education and believe it can be a powerful option for many families. It’s easy to find information about all of the benefits of homeschooling whether they are educational, social, financial or emotional. But the reality is that homeschooling can be incredibly stressful for the parents and the moms in particular. Many parents find themselves wanting to quit due in large part to the stress that often accompanies homeschooling.

As much as I believe in homeschooling, I confess I find it stressful. I wish I didn’t, but I do. I believe there is a combination of factors that contribute to that stress. Part of it is my personality. Part of it is life circumstances. Part of it is the way my child is wired. And part of it is just the natural stress that occurs in almost every homeschooling family.

If you are one of those parents who finds homeschooling easy and you rarely struggle with it on a regular basis… I’m happy for you. You probably don’t need this series, but I hope you will read along and share it with your friends who do struggle.

If you are a mom who struggles with stress related to homeschooling more than occasionally, then this series is for you.

We’re looking at different areas of homeschooling and family life that can cause stress. Identifying what is causing the stress and how we can deal with it will make a big difference. It’s easy to just say that homeschooling is hard and stressful, but never take the time to analyze what is contributing to it. In reality, for most people it is probably a combination of factors causing the stress.

The truth of the matter is if we don’t deal with the stressful aspects of homeschooling, they can overwhelm the good we are trying to accomplish with our children.

So what are we going to look at? This is what I have planned (but not set in stone or necessarily in this order!).

  • Personality Types and Homeschooling Stress
  • A Busy, Messy House and Homeschooling Stress
  • Disobedient Kids and Homeschooling Stress
  • Lack of Support and Homeschooling Stress
  • Feeling Behind and Homeschooling Stress
  • Choosing Curriculum and Homeschooling Stress
  • Financial Struggles and Homeschooling Stress
  • Feeling Inadequate and Homeschooling Stress
  • Feeling Unappreciated and Homeschooling Stress
  • Lack of Downtime and Homeschooling Stress
  • Feeling Alone and Homeschooling Stress

Do you relate to any of these? I’m guessing you do. I hope you find encouragement and some suggestions that will work for you. If you’ve discovered something that helps you in any of these areas, please leave a comment on that post and encourage other moms with your hard-earned wisdom! And if you think I missed a topic, feel free to contact me with suggestions!

Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Life Changing Magic of Tidying UpI’ve just finished reading Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. I learned of the book in a Facebook group when someone shared two videos that were made about it. After watching the videos, I wanted to read the book.

Does it spark joy?

The basic premise is to only keep those things in your home that make your heart throb with joy. Kondo has a very specific order when it comes to helping her clients with their mission of tidying up. You go through discarding and then deciding where to keep things. You do the discarding in this order: clothes, books, papers, komono (miscellany) and mementos. You also  do each category a very specific way which she outlines in the book (and which you can see in the videos if you choose to watch them).

My Struggle

Organizing comes naturally to me. But I do struggle with getting rid of some things and this is where the book especially helped me. First, the idea of only owning items that spark joy resonates with me. (I will keep things out of guilt or because they cost good money.) But this is the money section that describes how this approach is different from any other I’ve read in terms of how it addresses the struggle to get rid of things.

But when we really delve into he reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future.

During the selection process, if you come across something that does not spark joy but that you just can’t bring yourself to throw away, stop a moment and ask yourself, “Am I having trouble getting rid of this because of an attachment to the past or because of a fear for the future?” Ask this for every one of these items. As you do so, you’ll begin to see a pattern in your ownership of things, a pattern that falls into one of three categories: attachment to the past, desire for stability in the future, or a combination of both. It’s important to understand your ownership pattern because it is an expression of the values that guide your life. The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life. Attachment to the past and fears concerning the future not only govern the way you select the things you own, but also represent the criteria by which you make choices in every aspect of your life, including the relationships with people and your job.

I’m at the point of needing to let go of a lot of things from my past. Caroline will be a fourth grader in the fall. Everything from my teaching days was from early elementary. I’ve simply moved past that part of my life and don’t see myself ever teaching again. That means I’m about to close the door on a significant chapter of my life. Although I continue to create learning materials for early elementary, it is from a business perspective rather than that of a mom or teacher.

So all of the things I saved from my teaching days to use with my own children “someday” have served their purpose (or were never needed). It’s time to move them on. I’m not going to lie. It is hard to do this both from the standpoint of having an only child and as a former teacher.  That’s some significant door closing going on. At the same time, I am ready to move on and see what new things God has in store for me. So letting go of all the early elementary items will free me from my past in many ways.

I also think anyone who has gone through significant financial hardship understands the perceived need to hang on to things for fear of the future. If you had parents or grandparents who lived through the Great Depression, you know that the instinct to save things just in case is strong. It became ingrained in their thinking. I believe the same can hold true today. Anytime you go through an extended period of financial downturn due to job loss, medical bills, or any other financial reversal, it can become easy to feel the need to hang on to whatever you have of value because you know that you might not have the money to buy it in the future.

But I do believe that Kondo is right in that what we keep in our homes impacts how we live life today. She suggests that when you are going to get rid of something, you thank it for serving a purpose and then you release it. I’m not going to talk to inanimate objects, but I do think there is value in looking at objects, realizing they have served a purpose, and moving them on if they do not spark joy and serve a current purpose in your life.

A Thought-provoking Book

There are a few of aspects of her approach that would not work for me. I also don’t agree with some of the spiritual aspects that she discusses in the book. But for a way to think about tidying up, it’s a thought-provoking book that spoke to me in a way that other organizing books haven’t. I definitely think it is worth reading and recommend it.

If you would like to watch the videos I mentioned, here is Part 1 and here is Part 2. They are a dramatized story of the principles behind The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. It starts off a bit weird, but stick with it at least through Part 1. The events at the start lay the groundwork in the main character’s life. It’s interesting to see the principles in the book put into action and watching the videos made the book even better for me. Kondo writes that tidying up changes your life, your job, etc. and you can see that in the video’s story.

EoE Badge

National Eosinophil Awareness Week

EoE BadgeThis is National Eosinophil Awareness Week. During this week, people who have been impacted seek to raise awareness regarding this set of diseases. In some cases, it is parents raising awareness on behalf of their child. In other cases, it is the adults themselves who have been impacted.

What is all this? The American Partnership for Eosinophilic Disorders explains it this way:

A group of uncommon chronic illnesses, eosinophil (E-o-‘si-n-o-“fil) associated disorders, are rapidly emerging as a healthcare problem worldwide. Yet, many patients suffering from these disorders go undiagnosed for years due to a lack of information or awareness of these diseases.

What is an Eosinophil?

  • A type of white blood cell associated with allergies, parasites, and cancers

What are Eosinophil Associated Disorders?

  • High numbers of eosinophils accumulate in body tissues causing inflammation and damage
  • Classified by body tissue where eosinophils accumulate
  • Diagnosed and monitored by tissue biopsies
  • Chronic diseases requiring long term treatment, with no known cure
  • Debilitating diseases leading to missed work, school, social outings
  • Delays in diagnosis are common

This video focuses on children impacted by these horrific diseases, but know that there are many adults suffering as well.

I was diagnosed with Eosinophilic Esophagitis last year. To say it disrupts your life is an understatement. It’s ridiculously expensive to deal with.  I am very thankful that mine is controlled at this time with swallowed steroids, medication, and a severely limited diet. I still do not know all of my trigger foods, but hope I will over time. I also know that my EoE is triggered by environment as well. For example, a few days ago I got out some white vinegar and breathed too close to it. It made my EoE much worse. Many environmental factors mean that I don’t go outside in the spring or summer and we must keep our windows closed almost all of the time. I have to cook all of my food at home. Stress is a horrible trigger for my EoE so I have had to severely curtail most of my life outside of home.

We pray regularly for healing for me. I am a Christian and I do believe I can be healed. Whether God chooses to do so or not is up to Him. If you think of our family, we would greatly covet your prayers for all of our needs and that a cure could be found quickly.

Girlday

Happy It’s a Girl Day!

Girlday

May 11 is an official holiday in our home! We celebrate It’s a Girl! Day to commemorate finding out via ultrasound that we were at very long last expecting a girl. We had prayed specifically for a daughter all of those years and were a mixture of joy and tears when the technician told us we were having a girl.

Our celebration is pretty simple. Caroline gets to choose whatever she wants for lunch. The past few years it was Chinese, but this year it was Taco Bell (?!?!?!?). Since we almost never eat out  due to my health issues, Taco Bell is a treat. LOL!

She also gets to choose one thing she would like to do or buy ($25 max). Since her birthday is in late September, it’s a nice fill-in between Christmas and her birthday. There’s nothing like being a little girl on a trip to Meijer to choose whatever you want! Inexplicably to me, she chose this. Our tastes are just so different! LOL!

We’re so thankful for our girl!  Caroline is funny, clever, thoughtful, and compassionate. She brings so much joy to our lives. We’re thankful God chose to answer our prayers and send us this wonderful daughter.

Happy It’s a Girl Day!

 

Gifted and 2e Children Asking Hard Spiritual Questions

Gifted and 2e Children Asking Hard Spiritual Questions

Gifted and 2e Children Asking Hard Spiritual QuestionsThe first time Caroline asked me a “hard” spiritual question I was not prepared. I love theology, discussing doctrine, reading meaty books, studying the Bible, etc., but discussing these topics with a little girl wasn’t on my radar!

And yet many gifted and 2e children ask the hard questions, often long before you expect them to do so. They think about life, death, God and matters of faith in ways many adults never do.

I admit my first response internally was to briefly freak out. It really was. That quickly turned into a thought of something like, “Can’t I just catch a break!?!?!?” After those thoughts raced through my mind in a matter of a few seconds, I tried to honestly and succinctly respond to her question.

As David and I were talking about this, we tried to determine how to handle these kinds of questions in the future. We know they are coming. We know that gifted and 2e kids rarely respond well to the “because I told you so” method of instruction. I also have read widely and know that some Christian and/or homeschooled children are seriously blindsided when they leave home and the protective theological cocoon their parents have raised them in.

These are some of the principles we’ve come to based on our own faith experiences and watching others around us successfully parent their children in the faith (as well as learning from the people who admit they screwed up and how they would do things differently).

The Importance of Honesty and the Truth

This is a foundational value in our home. We state openly that we are a family that tells the truth to each other. The truth is directly tied to trust and that’s a biggie. It’s part of the reason we didn’t do Santa. I know good people disagree about this, but I wasn’t going to lie to my child for years and at the same time tell her that we value always being truthful in our home. We tell Caroline she should always tell us the truth and she can depend on us to be honest with her.

No Question is Off Limits

We tell Caroline she can ask us or tell us anything, anytime. There is no such thing as a dumb question and we always take her thoughts seriously. If she has doubts about something, I want to know about it. I want her to tell me what she thinks rather than feeling I will be angry or disappointed because she is having thoughts of her own that might be contradictory to what we believe. I can’t answer her questions or guide her to answers if she’s afraid of being honest. We tell her point blank that she can feel free to tell us anything.

Speak Often of Our Faith

There is a difference between speaking authentically about our faith and preaching at her. We avoid preaching. But we do speak as authentically about our faith as often as possible and in natural ways. We tell her stories of how we have seen God work in our lives and how He has answered prayers. We share with her the important stones of remembrance that line the path of our lives both separately and together. We talk about how she is a specific answer to prayer. We have always made it clear that our faith is not just something we do on Sunday (which is a good thing considering how much we have struggled with church attendance). Our faith is an integral part of who we are and informs our decision every day.

We Ask Her for Forgiveness

Never ever underestimate the power of modeling this to your child. When we are short with her, grumpy, or otherwise sin against her, we confess it to her and ask her forgiveness. She cannot learn how to ask for forgiveness unless she sees it modeled. David and I apologize to each other in front of her. We say, “I forgive you” in front of her. If we aren’t willing to confess our sins, how can we expect her to take our faith seriously? Because she has seen it modeled, she also will ask for our forgiveness when she does something wrong. She also knows that while there may be consequences, our love for her never changes (which goes back to the idea of feeling free to ask any question up above).

Embrace the Wonder of Creation

David and I are both naturally geeky and we find the world fascinating. We find creation fascinating. The Bible tells us that God speaks to us constantly through His creation and I find it so true. We regularly share our amazement over what God has created.

Understand All the Views

We want Caroline to know and understand the different views people have about life, including those that deny God and Jesus. We want her to understand why people believe certain things we don’t believe as well as why we don’t believe that way. We are not doing her any favors if we don’t speak honestly about the various beliefs out there. She’s going to run up against them eventually and I vastly prefer we’ve already considered them in our home.

As she gets older, we will try to help her to understand the tension of not being able to be certain about all aspects of faith. It’s called faith for a reason. I cannot answer every question for myself and I’m sure I won’t be able to answer every question for her.

Who Ultimately Loves Her

Looking back, David and I can both see that our parents gave us a foundation in the faith. We are both profoundly thankful for that. But God also used other people in significant ways in our faith journey. I have no doubt that He will do the same thing for Caroline.

We prayed for many years for a child, specifically a girl. We also specifically prayed that God would make her strong. (What were we thinking!?!??!?!? LOL!)

As much as we love her and want what is best for her, we know that God loves her far more than we could ever try. He has had His hand on her life in ways we can see so clearly. We will pray for her and instruct her, but ultimately she belongs to God and we trust Him to provide the answers she needs.

This post is part of my Raising Gifted Children in the Christian Faith series.

Raising Gifted Children in the Christian Faith

Gifted and 2e Children at Church

Gifted and 2e Children at Church

Gifted and 2e Children at Church

I know from reading conversations online that gifted and 2e children at church is often a big issue for Christian parents. And I’m going to say up front I do not have the answers for this. More than any other post in this series I’m going to raise the questions and I’m sincerely hoping others will jump in in the comments and leave their thoughts because I know this is a tough one.

Before we go any further, let’s recap. If you haven’t read the previous posts in the series, please do. Otherwise you’ll be missing the context of this post.

Gifted and 2e Children in Church

So what does it look like when a gifted or 2e child goes to church (or another church-related setting such as AWANA, youth group, etc.)? Here are numerous scenarios that play out depending on the level of giftedness, the number and type of intensities, and the age of the child.

  • The child who asks deep theological questions some adults don’t even ask, but can’t seem to sit in a chair for more than twenty seconds and wanders around the Sunday School classroom.
  • The child who announces at AWANA that he’s not sure if God even exists because (insert some deep theological reason here) and also can’t memorize a short Bible verse to save his life.
  • The deeply compassionate girl who becomes overwhelmed by her intense emotions and has to abruptly shut down conversations who also can’t write a sentence.
  • The child who repeatedly draws away from the group during AWANA to talk one-on-one with his favorite adult rather than play the loud games.
  • The child who can tell you in amazing detail everything she has ever learned about (insert some significant topic here), but cannot keep up in a Sunday School class structured like a traditional classroom and feels humiliated when put on the spot and asked a basic question about the Bible lesson.
  • The child who sits in the pew with his hands tightly over his ears, head down, when everyone else stands up to sing.
  • The child who is traumatized by the meet and greet time during the service when everyone is talking loudly and trying to invade his personal space.

These are just a few examples of how gifted and 2e kids might act at church while trying to cope with their intensities. Unfortunately, if people aren’t familiar with the struggles of children who live with intensities, they may be quick to assume that the children are spoiled or undisciplined.

Parenting Guilt and Church Attendance

Nothing has caused me more parenting angst than the struggle to regularly attend worship services at church. I never in a million years would have pictured myself as a parent who would avoid attending church because it was just too hard, too draining and too discouraging.

It started early when we didn’t put Caroline in the nursery the first winter (because she was bottle fed and it was flu season) and we were accused of making her an idol. With a few exceptions, it pretty much went downhill from there.

Except for a brief period of time at one church where Caroline was able to leave part of the service for junior church, I haven’t had the opportunity to actually sit and worship in a focused way in almost nine years.

People approach worship in different ways. My primary way of worshiping is with my mind. I’m a thinker. I don’t just sing the hymn. I dissect the words while I’m doing it. I don’t just listen to the prayer. I’m latching onto certain words. I take notes during the sermon. It’s how I’m wired.

I don’t get to do any of that any longer. I’ve been in and out of services with a little girl who is overwhelmed by the music. I’ve been in and out of services with a little girl who can’t sit still. I can’t focus on singing the hymns when the little girl sitting next to me has her hands over her ears and her head down because it is just too loud. I have to bite my tongue every time someone insinuates (or states) that my child is shy or rude because she doesn’t want to get up and shake hands with people she doesn’t know.

It’s too exhausting to negotiate it all. In the past church would energize me to go forth for the week. Over the past nine years it has taken me a day just to recover and there was no energizing. For the most part, church has been something my child has endured.

The Questions We Ask about Church

Does some of this sound familiar? I’m sure it does. And I bet you are asking some of the same questions we’ve been asking ourselves the past several years. These are the questions we try to come to terms with as believers who want to raise our child in Christian community when the community doesn’t work for our kids.

  • Should church be painful? Should it be scary and overwhelming? When it is literally physically or emotionally painful for a child to be in church, what do you do?
  • Does God ask us to be miserable each week? Would you choose to go somewhere each week that literally made you ill? Should we ask that of our little ones?
  • Do we want our gifted/2e children to equate the love of Jesus and worship with pain? With a desire to flee a situation that is overwhelming in various ways?
  • What do you do when all the church options available to your family are either sensory overload or are so theologically divergent from your own beliefs that you feel you would have to compromise your conscience in order to attend?

We’re not the only one asking these questions. I’ve come across posts written by other moms with children who have significant struggles with church and Sunday School. The comments are even more eye opening. In some cases the children have very severe needs and in others they simply are children who don’t deal well with too much stimuli. But in each case, church is an ongoing struggle.

The Pat Answers People Give

And then there are the pat answers that people give. The ones that range from clueless to offensive to downright mean.

  • Church isn’t about you. It’s about God. Stop making it about you.
  • You aren’t supposed to forsake the assembling. You are sinning if you aren’t there every week.
  • Children need to learn to do things that are unpleasant. Even if they don’t like being in church, they have to be there because it is what God demands.
  • If you were a better parent, you would spank them into compliance so they would show up with a smile on their face and get over their selfish hangups.
  • You should be here every week, but don’t expect the church to do anything to help you. No one owes you childcare each week.

So What Do We Do?

As I said, I don’t have the answer to these questions. Our situation partially resolved itself when I developed health issues that made attending church even more challenging. Between Caroline and me it became so overwhelming that we have not been attending church the past several months. We pray regularly that God will guide us in this area. It grieves me deeply that my child is growing up without a community of believers and friends. We pray that God will open the door to something that will work for all of us. In the meantime, we try to find Christian encouragement and fellowship wherever we can.

How are you handling this with your own gifted or 2e child?

This post is part of my Raising Gifted Children in the Christian Faith series.

Raising Gifted Children in the Christian Faith

Stained glass window photo credit

Disciplining Gifted and 2e Children in the Christian Faith

Disciplining Gifted and 2e Children in the Christian Faith

Disciplining Gifted and 2e Children in the Christian FaithSeveral of the posts I wrote in my 31 Days of Learning Differently series apply to parenting and homeschooling gifted/2e children in the Christian faith. If you aren’t familiar with that series, I did touch upon a number of topics related to disciplining children. The following posts would be helpful background to this topic of disciplining gifted and 2e children.

Why do we as Christians discipline our children?

Christians have very different ideas about why and how they discipline their children. The reasons will range from hyper-authoritarian to total lack of discipline. If I think about the reasons why we as Christians should discipline our children, they would boil down to a few central thoughts.

  • Teach them right from wrong and how our choices impact other people
  • Understand God’s holiness, our sin and the consequences of sin which leads to our need of the Savior, Jesus Christ
  • Develop self-control, the ability to regulate themselves, and make wise choices

Emotional Overwhelm

If you think back to my previous post where I defined giftedness/2e, I made the important distinction between smart kids and gifted kids. The difference is the issue of intensity.  Smart kids are cognitively advanced. Gifted kids are cognitively advanced AND have heightened intensities that interact/interfere with those cognitive abilities. In some 2e kids, it’s basically heightened intensities times ten or a hundred or a thousand.

In my opinion, if you have a child who already lives in a world of heightened intensity to the point that it is a detriment to their daily functioning and learning, the WORST thing you can do is spank (or yell in anger).

It’s like walking up to a burning building and lobbing in barrels of gasoline.

As one believer to another, I beg you from the bottom of my heart on behalf of your gifted/2e child, please think very long and hard before you choose to use spanking as your means of discipline. Based on research coming out, I would even think long and hard about time outs.

If this doesn’t make sense to you when you have always believed that spanking is a biblical imperative, I ask you to pray about it. Ask the Holy Spirit to convict you and change your mind if spanking is not in your child’s best interest.

Ephesians 6:4 tells us:

  • “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (NIV)
  • “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (NASB)

I strongly believe that many gifted/2e children will be exasperated and/or provoked to anger if disciplined through spanking.

Disciplining without Spanking

It is possible to discipline, train and instruct your child without spanking. I am not going to lie. It is challenging. It is much more time consuming. It takes much more effort. But it is possible.

Trying to figure out how to discipline Caroline without the traditional methods promoted amongst Christians was the hardest thing I’ve done so far as a parent. You’ve got this little person who is so intense, has needs that you haven’t figured out yet, is too small to clearly understand and articulate the overwhelming feelings she has, and you feel like you can’t ask anyone around you for help because everyone else spanks. It was a lonely experience.

I’ll share what we did and what worked for us. We prayed daily for wisdom and discernment. We regularly asked God to keep us from making a huge mistake. Over the months and years we did see the fruits of our labors. At age eight and a half, it is much easier. Certainly not perfect, but much easier. But it felt like we were flying blind in faith for a looooong time.

Parenting Strategies for the Parents

First, we had to make sure we truly understood child development. David would be the first to tell you that he did not have a realistic and accurate understanding of child development stages when he became a parent. This did cause him frustration at times until I pointed out that four year olds are incapable of thinking abstractly and so on. If you are expecting things out of your child that are developmentally inappropriate, then you are setting yourself up for increased frustration.

Related to this, it is important to remember that just because your first grader does fifth grade math and reads at a middle school level, he’s still a first grader. Sometimes with little children who are very verbal and precocious it is easy to forget how little they truly are.

Second, we had to change our perspective. We had to stop seeing everything Caroline did as manipulation. We had to see it as trying to express true needs that she could not verbalize. I think this is huge for any parent, but especially with emotionally intense children. It is so easy to feel like they are trying to manipulate you, but generally they are not. More often than not their anger and acting out is due to frustration and intense emotions that they don’t know how to express. We had to learn to not take it personally.

Third, we had to develop strong anger management skills. These intense kids can provoke such strong feelings in the parents. Depending on your own personality, this can be a big issue. I just hate conflict. I’m an INFJ and conflict is poison to me physically, mentally and emotionally. Trying to parent an emotionally intense child who negotiates so tenaciously she could wear out a UN mediator? I can’t put into words the effect it has had on me. It’s just so hard. You have to find a healthy way to deal with your own emotions when it comes to parenting these kids.

Specific Parenting Strategies and Ideas for the Child

Here are some parenting strategies that worked for us. I’m not saying this will work with every gifted/2e child. I offer these as a starting point for thinking about what to do with your own child. Consider what might work for you and throw out the rest.

In my opinion, demanding immediate, first time, unquestioning obedience is not going to work with gifted/2e kids. If you do go this route and somehow get compliance out of your gifted/2e child, I would challenge you that there is a high probability you do not have your child’s heart. You have a child who fears you and does what you say, but I do not believe you have his/her heart.

I did not want Caroline to fear me. I wanted to develop a positive relationship with her based on trust. As I wrote in the spanking post I linked to above, spanking her just a few times eroded the trust in significant ways. I can’t imagine what our relationship would be like now if we had continued down that path.

I mentioned up above about the red zone. You have to know your child’s red zone. You have to know the triggers. Observe, observe, observe. Get a PhD in your child’s make-up as quickly as you can. And then remember that they are constantly changing. You will be observing your child as long as you are parenting. I do think it gets easier once they can start verbalizing more, but until they can you have to try to piece it together as best you can.

Redirection was our number one tool when Caroline was little. By far.

Accept that negotiating and compromise are going to become a big part of your life. These kids have minds of their own and I mean that in the good way, not the negative way. Some of them are master negotiators. Not because they are trying to undermine your authority, but because they have such a strong and developed sense of self from an incredibly early age.

Choose the hills you want to die on very, very carefully. Don’t squander your parenting capital over issues that really don’t amount to a hill of beans.

Think win-win and think before you speak. Don’t automatically say no to everything. It is easy to immediately saying no because you are so tired of the negotiating, persistence, etc. But if you automatically say no, then you put yourself  in a no-win situation if you realize you spoke too quickly. Make sure you are saying no because it is the best answer, not because you are sick and tired of being asked questions. Believe me when I say I know how easy it is to just say no. But if you can train yourself to pause for five or ten seconds and think before responding, you will save yourself a lot of trouble in the long run.

The Harder but Better Road

Choosing not to spank in Christian circles is definitely going against the mainstream. People are flat out not going to understand. Let’s be frank. Some Christians are going to despise you and see you as weak if you choose to negotiate and compromise with your child. They are.

You know what? You have to choose not to care. You don’t answer to them. You answer to God. It really doesn’t matter what they think. They aren’t raising your child. You are. Unless they have a gifted/2e child, they don’t have the first idea what it is like. They don’t have the necessary information to make an informed decision.

If another Christian pushes you on this topic, I would simply reply with something like this:  Because of the way God created my child, spanking would provoke her to anger. I believe that God has given me other ways to train, instruct and discipline her in a way that honors God’s Word and who she is. If they push you beyond that, I would politely say that this isn’t open to discussion and you would prefer to change the subject.

So how have you handled the issue of disciplining your gifted or 2e child? What words of experience can you share? What methods have worked for you that might also work for another family?

This post is part of my Raising Gifted Children in the Christian Faith series.

Raising Gifted Children in the Christian Faith

Thinking about Gifted2e from a Christian Perspective

Thinking about Gifted/2e from a Christian Perspective

Thinking about Gifted2e from a Christian PerspectiveThe idea of giftedness provokes very strong feelings amongst parents. When some parents hear the words “gifted” or “2e” used to describe their child, they feel relieved. It might be the final piece of the puzzle regarding their high-maintenance child who simply doesn’t function like other children. When other parents hear the term gifted they cringe or become defensive. They believe all children are gifted and that it is elitist to think that your child is “better” than others. Debates rage online between people who believe all children are gifted and those who use the term to describe a significant neurological difference.

Prior to having a gifted child I didn’t think much about it. I had a profoundly gifted child in my first classroom, but other than that my experience was limited to my own childhood and being classified as gifted and talented. But having a gifted child who we eventually realized was 2e made me dive headlong into the world of giftedness in an effort to determine how to best meet her needs.

I’ve taught many children and I believe that every child is unique and brings something special to the world. But there is no doubt in my mind that not every child is gifted in the neurological sense we’re discussing in this series. Nor is there any doubt in my mind that being gifted or 2e presents many challenges to children and their parents. This includes areas related to the Christian faith.

So what does thinking about gifted/2e from a Christian perspective include?

Giftedness Defined

Trying to distill gifted and 2e down to one post means I have to leave a lot out. For the purpose of this series, we’ll use this definition that sums up all that giftedness encompasses.

“Giftedness is ‘asynchronous development’ in which advanced cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm. This asynchrony increases with higher intellectual capacity. The uniqueness of the gifted renders them particularly vulnerable and requires modifications in parenting, teaching and counseling in order for them to develop optimally.” (Columbus Group, 1991)

There are many children who have advanced cognitive abilities, but do not have the heightened intensity. Those are smart kids who do well academically and achieve much in a traditional school setting. Those smart kids are not dealing with the heightened intensity (emotional, sensual, psychomotor, intellectual, and/or imaginational) that complicates the learning experiences of gifted children.

Gifted children are those who are simply wired differently than other children. Not better and not worse. But differently. Intensely differently.

Gifted does not mean automatic success and an easier road in school. It often means just the opposite as many gifted children do not function well in a classroom environment and their areas of heightened intensity hinder their ability to perform in academically desirably ways. They truly require modifications in parenting and learning.

2e or Twice Exceptional

Within the group of gifted children is a smaller group called 2e or twice-exceptional. These are gifted children who also have a learning difference. In Caroline’s case, it is dysgraphia. For other children it could be dyslexia, auditory processing, Aspergers, sensory processing, or several other issues.

2e children have their own set of strengths and challenges. Twice-Exceptional Gifted Children: Understanding, Teaching, and Counseling Gifted Students gives the following two lists.

2e Strengths

  • superior vocabulary
  • highly creative
  • resourceful
  • curious
  • imaginative
  • questioning
  • problem-solving ability
  • sophisticated sense of humor
  • wide range of interests
  • advanced ideas and opinions
  • special talent or consuming interest

2e Challenges

  • easily frustrated
  • stubborn
  • manipulative
  • opinionated
  • argumentative
  • sensitive to criticism
  • inconsistent academic performance
  • difficulty with written expression
  • lack of organizational and study skills
  • difficulty with social interactions

Reading through these lists makes it easy to see why a 2e child does not normally fit into a traditional classroom or, for the purpose of this series, a traditional church setting. A 2e child requires modifications in parenting and education.

What about Spiritual Gifts?

In the faith context, gifted is not referring to spiritual gifts. It is a different kind of gifting. The Bible tells us that every redeemed person receives at least one spiritual gift from the Holy Spirit for the building up of the body of Christ. But not every Christian is gifted in the neurological sense.

Will spiritual gifts and neurological giftedness overlap? Probably for some, but not necessarily. Only time will tell. Giftedness in a child is often evident from a very early age even though the parents might not recognize it until later. Looking back, we can clearly see Caroline’s giftedness in the first few weeks even though we didn’t realize it then. (We were too sleep deprived!) I have zero doubts about her giftedness now.

But at this point, I have no idea what her spiritual gifts might be. Time and the Holy Spirit will reveal that. Once we become more aware of her spiritual gift(s), we’ll look for ways to guide her in that area just as we do her giftedness and asynchronous development.

Thinking about Giftedness from a Christian Perspective

So how do we think about giftedness from a Christian perspective? How do we talk with our children about the fact that they were created gifted by God? I do not profess to have all the answers to this. But here is what I’m thinking.

Parents with a neuro-typical child might think that having a gifted child is a blessing that makes for an easy childhood. It is, in fact, just the opposite. I have yet to meet a parent of a gifted child who said it was even remotely easy. Determining how to effectively deal with the emotional intensity of a gifted toddler alone is enough to break the strongest parent.

So while some people might automatically classify giftedness as a blessing, often the child and parents struggle to see it that way. Does it feel like a blessing when:

  • you don’t fit in with your peers because of asynchronous development so you speak and think like a teenager, play like an eight year old and struggle to write like a five year old?
  • you struggle with intense emotions that overwhelm you?
  • you feel like you have something wrong with you because your mind works so differently than those around you?
  • you struggle with math or writing so that you can’t keep up with other children your age even though you are far beyond them in other areas?
  • it is difficult to go out in public and do the most basic things because the sounds, smells and people overwhelm you?

I don’t think we’ve ever referred to Caroline’s giftedness as a blessing. I see it more as a challenge she will have to navigate in her life with God’s help rather than a blessing.

I do tell Caroline that I believe God created her as a unique individual and that He has purposes for her creativity, imagination, sensitivity and all of the other wonderful, intense aspects of her personality. I remind her that not everyone has the abilities she has and that they can be used to bless God and other people in her life.

I am thankful that because of my own struggles related to being gifted I can empathize with some (but not all) of her struggles. More importantly, I point her to Jesus, often praying with her when she is struggling with something. I am thankful that she will ask me to pray for her when going through a tough time.

I believe in God’s sovereignty and I trust that God has a good plan for my child even when the way is not clear at all from my perspective. I can see how He has worked time and again in my own life, marriage, friendships, and professional life. Because Caroline was an answer to many years of prayer and waiting, I believe He created her at this specific time for a purpose and He cares more for her than I ever could. I don’t know what those plans are, but I will remind her (and myself) that God works all things out for good for His children.

I choose to walk in faith each day, asking God for the wisdom and discernment to parent my gifted child. Will I have the answer to her every question and heartache? Of course not. But the Lord will care for her when I cannot. He knit her together in my womb and He will order her days because of the work He accomplished on the cross on her behalf.

This post is part of my Raising Gifted Children in the Christian Faith series.

Raising Gifted Children in the Christian Faith

Raising Gifted Children in the Christian Faith

Raising Gifted Children in the Christian Faith

Raising Gifted Children in the Christian FaithSince learning of Caroline’s giftedness (2e), the past year has been a huge learning curve for me.
I’ve had to rethink so much about learning and parenting. Because I’m a Christian, I think about these topics in the context of my faith.

I realized at one point that there is very little out there about raising gifted children in the Christian faith. There is a great deal about gifted children and there is plenty about Christian parenting and homeschooling. But both? Not much.

I brought up the subject of raising a gifted child in a Protestant faith tradition in a gifted homeschool bloggers group. We had a thought-provoking discussion about the challenges and opportunities as Christians with gifted children. This series of posts is a result of my experiences as a parent and that conversation. I hope it will be a helpful series for people who are wrestling with some of these same issues and will spark some good discussions.

But I Don’t Have a Gifted Child!

If you don’t have a gifted child, you might think this series won’t be relevant to you. I would ask you to reconsider. This series is for you if you:

  • Chaperone field trips with your child’s class
  • Teach Sunday School
  • Help at AWANA or youth group
  • Volunteer or teach at a homeschool coop
  • Volunteer in your child’s classroom
  • Have friends or family members with a gifted child

In short, if you work with or interact with someone else’s children on a regular basis, I promise you will find something in this series that will help you understand how to best help and love a gifted child.

A Unique Set of Struggles

What is it about raising a gifted child in the Christian faith that presents a unique set of struggles? I’ve observed some things that I think are very important.

  • How do you respond when gifted children often interact with matters of faith very differently than a neuro-typical child?
  • How do you raise gifted children in Christian community when they don’t especially like groups and find church overwhelming?
  • How do you instruct a child in the faith when he doesn’t like to be instructed in the typical ways churches function or simply doesn’t like instruction because of the way he is wired to learn?
  • How do you effectively discipline a gifted child?
  • How do you raise your child to understand that it is fine to be gifted and also be a person of faith when the gifted community is often hostile to Christianity or say they are mutually exclusive?
  • How do you support gifted children who often feel the weight of the world on their shoulders?

Those are some of the questions I’m going to touch on with this series. I hope you will find it helpful. If you are a parent of a gifted/2e child, I hope you will leave a comment and share what has worked for you in these different areas. I do not profess to be an expert in any of this! I’m simply hoping to facilitate a helpful conversation. You might have the answer another parent needs!

Raising a Gifted Child Series Clarification

A couple of words of clarification. I know the term “gifted” is controversial. I’ll be explaining what I believe gifted is and isn’t in my next post. I’m also writing this series from the perspective of a right of middle, Bible-believing, Gospel-preaching Protestant Christian because that is my sphere. It isn’t my intention to slight people of other faiths, but the historic Christian faith is the frame of reference for my life and so that is why it will be the basis of this series. Certainly anyone of other faith traditions (or no faith) is welcome to read and discuss. However, the series is not open to questioning the validity of the Christian faith, the Bible or giftedness. Comments of that nature will be deleted in order to provide a safe place for Christian parents to discuss. Thank you!

This post is part of my Raising Gifted Children in the Christian Faith series.

Raising Gifted Children in the Christian Faith

Why I Don't Micromanage My Picky Eater

Why I Don’t Micromanage My Picky Eater

Why I Don't Micromanage My Picky Eater

We have two picky eaters in our home.

My daughter is a picky eater.

I’m the other one.

Because I’ve always been very particular about food, it makes it much easier to accept my daughter’s eating preferences. And she has had them from very early on.

I remember one day when my in-laws were visiting  and Caroline was less than a year old. I had lined up four little bowls of various kinds of baby foods on the table, each with its own spoon. Caroline pointed to each one that she wanted, when she wanted it, and in the order she wanted it. David’s mom remarked that she had never seen a baby do that before.

The child knows her own mind. And she has from the womb.

I will say that Caroline has always been a good eater. She eats a variety of foods (although not many vegetables once we got off baby food). Eating a good variety was good enough for me (and our pediatrician). She eats meats, fruits, grains, dairy products, etc. so I make sure she has a variety of things she does like. But she does have a rather lengthy list of things that shall not pass her lips (as do I).

Thankfully around the time Caroline turned eight, she started asking out of the blue to try different foods.  I’m not sure what changed, but something did. Sometimes she discovers something she really likes and other times she spits it out. But she’s trying and we always affirm the fact that she tried a new food.

If you aren’t a picky eater, it might be hard to understand why your child has such strong opinions about food. It would be easy to turn it into a power struggle instead of stepping back and really assessing why your child is reacting the way she is. So as a picky eater, here are things I would encourage the parents of picky eaters to consider.

“No” Means “No”

We have a very strong rule about “no” in our house. If someone says “no” or “stop” then we immediately respect that whether it is during tickling, playing chase or buying clothes. This includes food. If we offer Caroline something to eat and she says, “No, thank you” then we immediately drop it. We don’t try to cajole her or guilt her into eating something. And we definitely do not command her that she has to eat one bite of everything.

Do you want someone to harass you after you tell them “no?”

Is this hard sometimes? Yes. Sometimes I have had to bite my tongue. But given my own aversion to certain foods that I could not eat even to be polite in someone’s home, I’m not going to be a hypocrite and push her to eat something she doesn’t want.

I also want Caroline to grow up knowing that she has a right and responsibility to tell others “No” and expect them to honor that. If I want my adult child to know the power of saying “No” when someone tries to push her to do something she doesn’t want to do, it starts by giving her control over parts of her life when she is younger. In our home, this includes food.

Food Aversions are Real

I have always had a strong aversion to many foods including fresh tomatoes. They are simply vile to me. It wasn’t until many years later that I realized that oral allergy syndrome is the reason. Raw tomatoes feel awful in my mouth and make me feel sick after eating them. Yet I can’t tell you how many times in my life people have pushed me to eat raw tomatoes, looked at me like I was weird when I didn’t want raw tomatoes, etc.

Sometimes little ones cannot articulate why they don’t like a food. It is possible they don’t like the way it makes them feel when they eat it, but they can’t fully express it to you. With the oral allergy syndrome there are no external physical symptoms like there are with an allergic reaction. It is all in the mouth and not visible. Don’t be too quick to brush off your child’s aversion to certain foods. There may truly be a biological reason for it.

Let Them Determine if They are Full

I have seen people boast that they have trained their children to eat whatever they put in front of them. I know there are people who insist that their children eat every bite on their plate when the child has had no say as to the food or the amount put on the plate.

We don’t do that.

Sometimes I will encourage Caroline to eat another bite or two if I think she’s just in a hurry to get back to playing instead of eating. If she asks for ice cream for dessert, but hasn’t finished her tuna, I will ask her to eat a few more spoonfuls of the tuna first. But for the most part, if she says she’s full then we accept that.

There is NO virtue in eating everything on your plate if you are already full. (As a Christian, I would call that gluttony.) If we constantly push our children to eat past the satiation point, we are teaching them to ignore the powerful and clear signals their brain is giving them. We should WANT them to learn to listen to their brain to know when they are full.

If parents are constantly overriding their child’s natural signals in an effort to control their child, then they are missing out on a crucial learning experience.

Choose Your Battles Carefully

One of my parenting mantras is that I choose my battles very carefully. I will ask myself if this is a hill I’m willing to die on. I save the hill dying for what I think is very important. Food is not a hill I’m willing to die on.

I’m not willing to turn mealtime into a battle of wits. It’s not good for anyone to eat while upset. Mealtime should be relaxing and an opportunity to enjoy being together.

Do I really want to invest my parenting capital into bullying/manipulating/guilting my child into eating something she doesn’t want?

No. Way.

There are other things that are going to matter far more to me than if my child wants to try carrots or scalloped potatoes tonight. I am saving my parenting capital for when there is something truly important at stake. In the grand scheme of things, having a picky eater is the least of my worries on this parenting journey.

You know how I know?

I’m a picky eater and I’m doing just fine.

And so will your child.

Celebrate Winston Churchill Day

Celebrate Winston Churchill Day with Free Kindle Ebooks

Celebrate Winston Churchill Day

April 9 is Winston Churchill Day and Hillsdale College is celebrating by offering the entire 8 volume official biography of Winston Churchill for FREE for three days!

Simply follow the links below to download your free copies!
Winston S. Churchill: Youth, 1874-1900 (Volume I)

Winston S. Churchill: Young Statesman, 1901-1914 (Volume II) (Churchill Biography Book 2)

Winston S. Churchill: The Challenge of War, 1914-1916 (Volume III) (Churchill Biography Book 3)

Winston S. Churchill: World in Torment, 1916-1922 (Volume IV) (Churchill Biography Book 4)

Winston S. Churchill: The Prophet of Truth, 1922-1939 (Volume V) (Churchill Biography Book 5)

Winston S. Churchill: Finest Hour, 1939-1941 (Volume VI) (Churchill Biography Book 6)

Winston S. Churchill: Road to Victory, 1941-1945 (Volume VII) (Churchill Biography Book 7)

Winston S. Churchill: Never Despair, 1945-1965 (Volume VIII) (Churchill Biography Book 8)