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Gifted Children/Almost 4 year old tantrums.

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Hello,

My daughter, Azalee will be four years old in April. Being an only child myself and as she is my first child I did not realize how smart she is until our doctor pointed it out. Presently, she knows almost the entire alphabet (she gets C and D confused), she can write her first name, write most of the alphabet in one of the cases, she can count to 30, I am presently teaching her the numbers 1-12 visually and am beginning to teach her time. She can kick a ball accurately, she can go up and down the stairs one foot in front of the other without the help of a railing, she is 100% potty trained. Her speech is well developed and strangers could understand what she was saying at age two speaking full sentences. Now she has moved on to complex questions that I sometimes have difficulty answering.  She can sit and watch a whole movie or listen as I read a good sized book, listening up to 30 minutes. She can tell stories from her imagination or from pictures.
My question doesn't have to do with what is next or if she is gifted. My question is what to do with her temper. It is out of control and I am near my breaking point. It is hard and frustrating to reason with her because a part of me knows sheís only three but she reasons and reacts more like a seven year old and so I donít know what to do. I know have a 1 year old who is also affected by Azalees tantrums and the amount of attention she needs. Her tantrums last up to an hour with severe screaming and hitting. She does throw things in general or at me. It has gotten recently to the point of her pulling out her hair. She gets enough sleep but it is disruptive often crying out in her sleep and even hitting or kicking the walls. I have never met any child so angry before. As a family we are happy (until recently it is effecting us a unit), healthy and average middle class with little money issues.
I am on a waiting list in my small town to speak to a child psychologist but I donít know how long that will take. I donít know what to do. Please help.
Any assistance or advice you could offer would be greatly appreciated.
Thank-You
Angela

Answer
11/26/12 Gifted child with behavioral issues

4/28/12 Behavioral issues with my possibly gifted child

Thanks for your patience.

The place to start is for your daughter to see her doctor. Occasionally a child's unmanageable behavior is due to an underlying physical disease. With your daughter I don't think its a physical medical condition, but you just don't want to miss it if it's there. It's a very astute observation you made that because she seems much older intellectually, that its hard not to respond to her as though she's older emotionally.

That's one of the most difficult things about raising a gifted child, the mismatch between intellect beyond a child's years, but emotional development stays around age. It's called "asynchronous development." Parents have to be constantly mindful about the difference, fighting that strong pull to see and treat her as being advanced as much emotionally as she is intellectually.  The rest of the world will treat her as advanced emotionally, so the parents have to be the guardians of emotional development.

The place to start is for you and your husband make a firm commitment, a promise to your selves, that you will remain calm and never yell, no matter how much she provokes you. When you're dealing with total meltdowns, remember "I am the adult. She is doing the business of growing up." That way it's possible to see discipline as lessons, teaching life skills. And because you love your daughter so much, you'll make the tough decisions and require of her that she learns to behave. She may scream at you, say she hates you, etc. but because you are the parents, you remain calm and centered, using a conversational tone of voice. I suspect that when things have felt totally out of control that there's yelling that you come away from the experience feeling defeated and hopeless. It's amazing how, after even one experience of remaining calm, using a conversational tone of voice, you'll feel empowered to do the same in the future. A weight will lift from you.

Can you describe a couple or few examples of situations when she's out of control, what tends to trigger her, her behavior and responses, how you handle it. That makes it easier to talk about how to do things differently, what responses to make. I'll look forward to your examples.  

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Faith A. Coleman MD

Expertise

No questions are off-limits. My strengths are understanding what questioners are really trying to ask, knowing the right questions to get to useful answers, and putting complicated, subject-specific words and concepts into language accessible to lay-persons. The topic is fascinating and can be surprising, the opposite of what might logically seem expected of giftedness. I am skilled in identifying giftedness at any age, including very early in life.

Experience

Children constitute about one-third of the patients in a Family Medicine practice. I was Director of Children's and Women's Public Health Education Programs with the Northeast Texas Public Health District. I have two highly gifted children, one of whom attended Roeper School, listed first in this site's Sponsored Links. I was the health expert for Roeper's board of directors; I maintain contacts there. I'm on the board of directors of several organizations of which I'm a member. I spent a summer as the Medical Director of a camp for kids with ADD, ADHD, and psychiatric disorders. Editor, Medical Economics Publishing Co. licensure to teach K-12 in Oklahoma, with added qualification in Journalism

Organizations
Champions for Children: Advocacy, resources, quality assessment, for early childhood daycare (Board of Directors). American Academy of Family Physicians. Michigan Academy of Family Physicians Society of Teachers of Family Medicine. READ: Advocacy, education, resources for teaching and encouraging literacy in adults. East Texas Network for Children (Planning Board).

Publications
Journals: Medical Economics, Contemporary OB/Gyn, Diagnostic Medicine. Albuquerque Journal Daily, Tyler Daily News, New Mexico Daily Lobo, New Citizen Weekly, Alpena News, daily.

Education/Credentials
BA, Journalism MD University of New Mexico School of Medicine. Internship, Detroit Medical Center. Family Practice Residency, Top-100 Hospital - Beaumont. Clinical Faculty appointments to three medical schools. Faculty, Family Practice Residency, Detroit area.

Awards and Honors
Two official commendations awarded by United States Army for service and contributions to young soldiers and families. Publishing Internship, Medical Economics Publishing Company. Research Internship, Hastings Institute of Society, Ethics, and the Life Sciences. Woman Medical Student of the Year. Numerous others.

Past/Present Clients
As above in experiences, publications and awards. Many thousands of patient/family encounters.

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