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Gifted & 2e

Gifted Children Don’t Know Life Any Other Way

Gifted Children Don't Know Life Any Other Way 2

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A common theme among parents who discover their first child is gifted is, “We didn’t realize it. We thought this was normal. We didn’t have anyone to compare her to.” If adults have never experienced giftedness first-hand or spent much time with neuro-typical children, they might not recognize it when it is staring them in the face. It’s just “normal” in their world of parenting.

I didn’t think much about the topic of giftedness until trying to understand Caroline’s uniqueness required me to do a lot of reading and learn everything I could. She and I are so different in many ways and I wanted to understand her. What surprised me during the process is that the more I read, the more I started to think about my own giftedness and how it has shaped my life in ways I didn’t even realize.

At one point I realized that I always think of myself as smart and hardworking, but not gifted (even though I was viewed as gifted in school starting in kindergarten and benefited from that label throughout my entire education, including college). I also realized in a new way how my giftedness often makes it difficult for me to fit in in various settings. Again, I didn’t attribute it to my giftedness but personality, etc.

But in the end, I realized that I’m weird in my own way because of my giftedness. Because (let’s be honest) the truth of the matter is that most gifted people are weird in some way or another. We don’t fit in. That’s one of the difficulties of being a gifted person.

And I also realized that I have no comprehension of what it’s like to not be this way. That is also one of the difficulties of being gifted that I think parents can often miss about their children. We focus so much on dealing with the reality of our child being gifted and what that means in practical ways that we fail to acknowledge that giftedness is our child’s entire frame of reference.

Living with Gifted Overexcitabilities

Distraction Free Print & Cursive Handwriting Practice Bundle without ArrowsDistraction Free Print & Cursive Handwriting Practice Bundle without ArrowsBuy NowFor example, I have been a voracious reader my entire life. I spend hours each day reading and synthesizing information. It’s just what I do. I don’t know how to not do it. As an overexcitability, it’s like a compulsion.

The reality is that I don’t know how people go through life and don’t take in information and think all the time because it is all I know. I don’t know what it is like to not be endlessly curious about a slew of topics every single day ranging from NFL free agency and the draft to why leaders in the Greek Orthodox Church have the appearance they do to current political intrigue to people who live in English cottages that are hundreds of years old with no modern conveniences and on and on and on.

It’s just the way life is in my world. I can’t easily turn it off. Even when I want to turn it off, it’s difficult. It’s hard-wired into how I was created. And it is something I need every day to be healthy. I remember being so depressed when Caroline was little because I had almost no time to read. I had no mental ability to synthesize information because I was so sleep deprived. And it snowballed into being depressed. It literally felt like a part of me had died. I wasn’t healthy without my reading and thinking.

Gifted Children and Their Overexcitabilities

One of the things we’ve learned about Caroline’s particular bent is that playing with stuffed animals and acting out their stories is not an option. It is a daily necessity. It is like sleep, food, air, and water. It is a basic need in her life. It’s not even a need for play. It is a need for how she processes information. If she doesn’t get it, it negatively impacts her just as it would if we denied her food or sleep or water. We know this as a fact because when she doesn’t get this kind of play time, something in her dies a bit until that need is met.

Living With Intensity: Understanding the Sensitivity, Excitability, and the Emotional Development of Gifted Children, Adolescents, and AdultsLiving With Intensity: Understanding the Sensitivity, Excitability, and the Emotional Development of Gifted Children, Adolescents, and AdultsAnd she doesn’t know how to be any other way.

That is her reality and how she is wired just like I don’t understand how people can go through life and not be soaking up information all day long.

All gifted children have their “thing” and they don’t know life without it. It is as natural to them as breathing. It is a necessary part of their life. It would be easy for me to look at Caroline’s play with stuffed animals and think it is a childish thing, but it’s not about the stuffed animals, per se. It’s about what they allow her to do and a huge need they meet in her life. They aren’t toys. They are tools.

This is Your Gifted Child’s World

If you have a gifted child, it’s important to understand your child’s world. However she is wired, that is what is normal to her. It might not even make sense to you, but she needs you to understand and honor it.

I’m not sure how Caroline’s stuffed animals will play out in the years ahead. I assume at some point the tool for her processing will cease being the stuffed animals and will become something else. And we will support her through that transition whenever she decides it is going to happen.

Your gifted child’s obsession with whatever it is, is happening for a reason. Gifted children are not completely random in what they do. Gifted kids who seek out stimulation in whatever form it is, do so for a reason. It meets a need and function in their world, the only world and frame of reference they really understand. Our job as the parent is to understand what drives it and determine how we can support it.

GHF Difficulties GiftedGifted Children Don't Know Life Any Other Way


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  • My girls still play with stuffed animals, too, and for the same reasons you describe. My 10 year old has had Little Wolf forever – he’s her wingman.

    I love the positive angle  you take here, Sallie. Great post!

  • Love this:  “The reality is that I don’t know how people go through life and don’t take in information and think all the time because it is all I know.”  Boy oh boy can I relate!  I never understood people who could just accept a statement and keep going – I always wanted to know more: to question why, how does it work like that, and so on.

    My mom’s revenge – my oldest son.  He has that in spades!

    Great post – and kudos mamma for figuring out your daughter’s needs instead of dismissing them or ignoring them.  Like babies who cry for a reason, our gifted kids have a purpose to everything they do.

  • From my own perspective, I completely connect with feeling compulsive about reading. For me, it is feeling creatively compulsive. I make things…all sorts of things. From a parenting perspective, I LOVE this: “However she is wired, that is what is normal to her. It might not even make sense to you, but she needs you to understand and honor it.”

  • I read recently that the years of having children under 6 are the unhappiest of most adults’ lives – that certainly rings true for me, for the reasons you give here.

    I also resonate strongly with what you say about attributing your traits with your personality rather than your giftedness. Me too! I like to think that thanks to blog hops like this one we are helping get the message out there that giftedness is much more complex than most people realise.

    I’ve watched my daughter move from one passion to another over time. Last year it was gymnastics, this year it’s music. Every passion is a full-immersion experience, just as you describe. She doesn’t know how to be any other way, as you say.

    Thanks for a great and thought-provoking post!

  • You’ll relate to this. My grown teenage son still has drawers filled with his stuffed animals. They are friends from his single kid childhood. He entrusted the most important of them all, a small plush he had acquired on a very special vacation that held tremendous sentimental value, to his girlfriend. This little guy had accompanied him to three new schools hidden in his backpack as a token of love and comfort in the face of uncertainty and hostility. When they broke up, she told him in teenage dramatic fashion that she never wished to hear from him again, and he honored that.  His beloved little plush remained in her safe keeping until I happened to learn of it.  She and I were on good terms, so I asked for it back,  but she had tossed it.  It genuinely feels like the death of a beloved friend.

    • Chipper,

      Oh dear. I cannot imagine. I do totally relate to that as the parent of someone who loves her stuffed animals. It’s amazing how important they can become to some children.

      Best wishes,

  • This was a wonderful snippet of information I needed today. We are on the brink of having two out of our four children tested for giftedness. It has been a long journey. One not even started by me but by my husband’s aunt who has lived through that world with her own children and she cared enough to take me aside and say, “Your family is eccentric. And it’s good. Here’s why…”

    “The reality is that I don’t know how people go through life and don’t take in information and think all the time because it is all I know.” What a resonating statement with me. And to be honest, this is something I’ve struggled with because I see others who appear complacent to not know information and it’s bewildering.

    Interestingly, because I’m also a “voracious reader” like yourself, I was shocked to learn through all my research on gifted that “giftedness” didn’t sound all that special to me as it basically DESCRIBED me (and my siblings). What started off as a mission to better understand our children and determine whether their social quirks truly needed to be corrected or not, has now resulted in me finally understanding who I am.

    It’s humorous and amazing how God orchestrates certain things in life to fall into place at just the right times.

    • Kayla,

      Thanks for your great comment! What a blessing to have an aunt who was willing to help by pulling back the curtain to help you see what was going on with your kids.

      It is kind of a weird feeling when you read about gifted kids and realize what you thought was normal because it is all you know really isn’t normal.

      My prayer for this site has always been that the right people will find the right post at the right time. I’m always encouraged when I hear that is the case. 🙂


Sallie-Schaaf-Borrink-060313-B-250x250I'm Sallie, teacher by training and now homeschooling mom of Caroline. My passion is to provide products, encouragement, and information that helps others discover and do what works with their children. I also write about living a cozy life as a highly introverted person. Welcome! ♥

My Gift to You!

“We who live in quiet places have the opportunity to become acquainted with ourselves, to think our own thoughts and live our own lives in a way that is not possible for those keeping up with the crowd.”
Laura Ingalls Wilder

“After Laura and Mary had washed and wiped the dishes, swept the floor, made their bed, and dusted, they settled down with their books. But the house was so cozy and pretty that Laura kept looking up at it.”
Laura Ingalls Wilder
On the Banks of Plum Creek

“They were cosy and comfortable in their little house made of logs, with the snow drifted around it and the wind crying because it could not get in by the fire.”
Laura Ingalls Wilder
Little House in the Big Woods


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