Gifted Children/Sad, anxious perfectionist gifted 6 y/o
I live in NJ.I have three daughters 15, 8 and 6. I'm looking for a little guidance with my 6 year old daughter.
From the time she was a few months old, I knew she was gifted. She made eye contact with us and followed us well before babies usually do. She seemed to generally hit most of her milestones a bit earlier as I recall.
She thinks abstractly, grasps advanced linguistic concepts and can talk about such complex issues as ethics, morality, and religion. She would pick up on basic mathematical concepts before my older daughter would when she was younger. She is able to concentrate intently on one activity for long periods of time. She has a large vocabulary and understands words not typically used by her peers. She speaks like an adult. She is a leader who often organizes group activities, such as initiating games with other familiar children. She is extremely creative and loves to tell stories, draw, and compose songs. She's been drawing detailed pictures for years. She wrote her sister a song for her birthday as a present. Once, before she entered school, she took apart my foam rollers and used them to make a skeleton then drew a person on paper and glued it to the skeleton. I think she was 4. She has a sense of humor and appreciates wit. She is extremely sensitive to other people's feelings. She told me once that she didn't want to go to school because then I would be all alone. (I'm a stay at home mom)
I was a gifted child myself (my mother tested me as a child)...now a lot has happened to me since then, but I was.
My eldest daughter like myself suffers from anxiety and depression. At one point she was hospitalized. She's doing much better now on medication and having been through therapy. But, many times, her younger sisters witnessed her outbursts, aggression and verbal wishes to harm herself and I think these events were very traumatic for the two younger ones. They both are very tightly wound and they both seem to cry very easily - especially the 6 year old.
My 6 year old is starting 1st grade next week. I'm concerned because last year was a bit difficult for her. She has great difficulty with perfectionism. It's debilitating. Her kindergarten teacher told me countless times that she was her own worst enemy. She wouldn't do work at all if she felt it would be wrong. She even got in trouble at school for not doing an assignment because she said she didn't know anything. She won't guess. She's very negative about her abilities now. She doesn't want to do anything any more. Her teacher has said that she knows more than she thinks she knows - she can tell - but she's locked up by her perfectionism. She lacks confidence. I'm not unfamiliar with this myself. But, I don't know how to help her.
At one point my mother asked her about school and she started crying and said that she loved her teacher, but wasn't learning at all. She said that she was bored and her teacher wasn't teaching her anything she didn't know. It's as if she believes she should know more than she does. Ok, so she thinks things are too easy...Yet, when the kindergartners took a standardized test to determine giftedness, her scores were below average. It just didn't make sense. Was her score as a result of per perfectionism or because it was her first standardized test?
She will often cry and get up in the middle of the night saying that "something is bothering her and she doesn't know what it is."
I don't want to jump to conclusions, but I'm curious to get s professional opinion
I wanted to have her professionally evaluated for giftedness, but I couldn't really afford it and honestly thought the school's test would confirm it. That didn't work out as planned.
I'm wondering if requesting an evaluation by the district's child study team will help? Could there be something else keeping her from succeeding? I'm quite concerned. Gifted children aren't really given the best protections in NJ.
Any guidance is appreciated.
I will give feedback.
You have good reason to be concerned. The good news is that you're reaching out while your daughter is young. It sounds like many of your circumstances are highly stressful; my heart goes out to you.
Gifted children are not always good test-takers. Some flunk out of school. Others need special education. Many are socially impaired, which affects school performance. There are many different opinions about the usefulness and importance of the testing you describe. Gifted children are often their own worst enemies and perfectionists. "Gifted" covers a very wide spectrum. Many children who are gifted also have learning disabilities, such as dyslexia and countless others.
Establishing whether or not your child is gifted in some formal method recognized by the school is not the most urgent need right now. It doesn't even matter, because she can't put giftedness to use in her emotional/mental health state.
Write a profile of your daughter, her behaviors, your concerns and questions, and relevant family history, as you have done in your question.
1. Make an appointment with her family doctor or pediatrician. Take your daughter's profile. You may even want to send it ahead of you; her doctor may have a chance to read it before your appointment, which will make it more productive. You need advice and referral to a counselor or children's therapist. You don't know yet what exactly is happening with your daughter or what she needs.
2. Call the school superintendent's office. Ask to see someone who is a guidance counselor, express your concerns, take the profile or send it ahead of your appointment with the guidance counselor, and get some direction and information about what's available within the school system. Face to face meeting is best.
3. Consider a family therapist for the things you describe in your question. Your doctor should be able to make a referral.
4. Call the Department of Human Services or Department of Health and Human Services in your area to see what resources are available in your area for your needs, on a no-cost or sliding-fee basis.
5. Free Spirit Publishing, www.freespirit.com, has excellent resources for the educational and emotional needs of children.
6. www.healthychildren.org is an information service for anything kids. It's by the American Academy of Pediatrics
7. www.familydoctor.org is similar, for the whole family, by the American Academy of Family Physicians
8. www.about.com/gifted-children has brief, easy to digest articles.
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