Category Archives: Overexcitabilities

Why Sensitive People Need to Find Our Balance Before We Can Make a Difference in the World

Why sensitive people need to find our balancebefore we can make a difference

Most people with emotional overexcitability care passionately about making the world a better place. But if we’re not careful, our acute sensitivity to injustice and tragedy can leave us flooded by negative emotion.

So how do we find out what’s going on in the world so we can contribute positively without feeling  overwhelmed?  And how do we teach our sensitive children to find their balance?

One evening last week my 11-year-old son came to me in tears.

“I keep thinking our plane’s going to crash or the boat’s going to sink when we go on holiday.”

Despite his imaginational and emotional OE, Jasper isn’t prone to these kind of worries, so I was curious what had triggered him. He told me that after we upgraded his computer to Windows 10, world news stories had begun appearing automatically on his home screen. (“I see all the murders – everywhere!”)

I wonder if the reason Jasper hadn’t got anxious before is because I stopped following the news a long time ago.

I figure that if anything’s that important I’ll hear about it somehow. I see newspaper headlines at petrol stations and subtitled news programmes at the gym, and every fortnight I read the kids’ newspaper NewsAdemic.

I inform myself politically before I vote, I research which charities to support, and I counter the media’s distorted emphasis on tragedy by subscribing to the Good News Network.

The world needs all kinds of people

Some people can deal with life dispassionately and logically. They aren’t overwhelmed by their negative emotions, even when they look directly at tragic situations. Does that make them bad, uncaring people? Of course not. Society needs people who can respond to crises quickly and practically.

And the world also needs the people who are so sensitive and empathic, whose compassion runs so deep that it takes them a while to find their emotional equilibrium when bad things happen.

How do we find our balance?

Here’s my approach:

(1) Be careful what you’re exposed to. If watching the news on TV leaves you so stressed that you shout at your kids,  don’t watch it. If reading the headlines depresses and drains you, don’t read them. We’re no good to anyone – our families or the wider world – if we don’t take care of our own emotional wellbeing.

(2) Have strategies to help you recover when you’re triggered by upsetting events you read or hear about. Go somewhere green for a walk, watch your favourite comedy show, meditate, chat with an upbeat friend or read a funny novel – whatever works for you.

I’m not suggesting we slap a happy face sticker over our empty fuel tanks. We need to acknowledge and be present to our negative emotions. But we also need to know when and how to reach for better feelings.

(3) Increase your resilience by doing things that nurture your emotional wellbeing as part of your daily routine.

(4) Seek out a life philosophy that helps you make sense of the world. Whether it’s mindfulness, a spiritual faith, transforming pain into art, or finding solace and wisdom in a book – keep searching for what works for you.

Model a powerful outlook to children

I started writing this post to help me process the shock and sadness I felt last Friday when 52% of the population of my country – motivated, it seemed to me, by bigotry and short-sighted greed – voted to leave the European Union.

Cordie (12), who knows a lot about current affairs thanks mainly to the intelligent YouTubers she follows, was disappointed by the referendum result too, but she was puzzled by the intensity of my upset.

“I don’t understand why this is affecting you so much,” she said, with genuine compassion.

“Because … it’s our future,” was all I could reply, still reeling from the implications of what my country had just so casually thrown away.

“But Mummy, everything’s our future.”

Here was my little girl reflecting back to me the outlook I’ve modelled to her throughout her childhood. Life is so much more than one bad news story, however devastating it feels.

I gave myself another hour clicking sad, empathetic emoticons on my friends’ FaceBook feeds, then I sat down to watch The Big Bang Theory with my family.

Politics can wait until I’ve found my balance.

“Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”

John Lennon

Further reading

Sensitivity, Empathy and Compassion Fatigue – What Can You Do?  Your Rainforest Mind

Top 3 Tips to Up Your Energy and Resilience Level – PowerWood

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How do you find your balance when world events  rock your world?

How do you help your children find their balance?

I’d love to hear from you, in the comments on on the Laugh, Love, Learn FaceBook page. 🙂

Don’t forget to leave your email address in the Subscribe by Email box at the bottom of the page if you’d like to receive my weekly posts direct to your inbox!

What’s it Like Being a Tween with Overexcitabilities? Interview with C(12)

What's it like being a tween with overexcitabilities?

This week my 12-year-old daughter Cordie chatted with me  on camera about what it’s like being a tween with the intensities and sensitivities known as overexcitabilities. Cordie’s been home-educated since she was six.

{If you’re interested, you can watch our full conversation on video below.}

What do you think of when you hear the word ‘Overexcitabilities’ (OEs)?

I think of quirky creators of good things.

What OEs do you have?

I think have all of them to one extent or another. I definitely have imaginational OE. I like creating characters and stories. I create characters all the time, and then you have to write a story for your characters to be in, for other people to fully understand them.

And I also have sensual OE. I get quite annoyed by a lot of sounds, but I like loads of different styles of music. I like certain textures, and I really hate other textures. And I’m very sensitive to tastes and smells – I really don’t like some candles, or Lush products.

How has what you’ve learned about OEs helped you?

Knowing about OEs has helped me understand myself and become more self-aware. It helps because you can unpick causes and consequences. And it means you can laugh about things afterwards because you understand what went on. And you can more easily prevent it next time (if it was something that you don’t want to happen again).

What would you say are the similarities and differences between you and other people your age?

I think I’m a lot more sensitive to throwaway comments people make. At this age a lot of people are quite competitive, and in our culture especially we’re quite used to putting ourselves down to seem more humble.

If someone makes a throwaway insult (even if they didn’t mean it to be) like, “Oh you’re ugly” or whatever – it really gets to me. And even though they probably don’t even remember it, if you have OEs it can really stay with you for a while and influence what you do.

What makes you feel good about yourself?

I’m really happy that I’m fit and that I do a lot of exercise, which is fun.

My main sport is karate – I do 4 hours a week. I’ll hopefully get my black belt next Easter, but even if I don’t I’m proud of myself for getting to this level. I also enjoy gymnastics, Scouts and ice skating. And guitar – exercise for the fingers!

Also, I’m pleased with myself for completing Key Stage 3 maths. One of my goals was to do an exam paper at the end of this school year. My friends who go to school were all doing exams and I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it too.

Do your OEs affect the way you learn?

Yes, probably. I can’t learn in some situations, and also it’s easier to revise if I have certain stimuli. I really like doing memorisation with music, for instance.

In maths my OEs help me think of different ways around a problem. If you’ve only learned a formula you might forget it but it’s helpful if you can think outside the box and find of another way to solve a problem, even if it’s not the way you’ve been taught.

What would you say is your biggest challenge right now?

Just generally in life? I don’t really have any challenges, I have a great life!  Maybe dealing with a whole family who has OEs all of their own! It’s intense because it makes you consider – especially with emotional OE – what you say, because someone can take it to heart, and you don’t want to set anyone off.

But it is nice because you can have really deep, loving relationships. And also it’s nice because we never really get into any big fights, we always forgive each other.

What makes you happy?

I love doing my exercise and also going to Stagecoach, where I do 3 hours of dancing, acting and singing. I enjoy doing all of my activities and hanging out with my friends, because I’m quite extroverted. I really enjoy talking to people.

So even though you’re home-educated you still have friends? 😉

Yes! I have a lot of friends from different circles. It’s funny because often one of my friends will have a mutual friend who we’ll bump into and they’ll talk about a certain person and I’ll ask, “Oh is that the person who…?” and they’ll be surprised and say, “How did you know that?!”

Most people my age don’t have such a wide circle because they just have their friends from their school, but since I do karate and all my other activities I know a lot of different people.

What do you do to relax?

Mainly I watch YouTube, that’s my main method of relaxation. I lie on my bed or on the sofa and watch whatever videos I want, which is really nice. I go through phases. At the moment I watch videos about nail art, science, games and cooking.

How do your OEs affect your relationships?

I think having emotional OE I I crave deep friendships, so if I’ve found someone I’ll want to be with them loads and loads and I’ll talk about them constantly. Often when I come back from somewhere I’ll just be talking about this one person the entire time.

It’s great if you have friends who also have OEs too, but even if they don’t, it helps if they understand your little quirks.

Is there anything else you want to say about OEs?

Having OEs is great! If you don’t have them, don’t worry about it – you have it a lot easier. But if you do, you’re a cool person and they’re really fun.

They certainly are. It’s never dull in our family, is it?

No!

What makes your tween feel good about him or herself?

What would they say is their biggest challenge?

I’d love to hear from you, in the comments below or on the Laugh, Love, Learn Facebook page. 🙂

If you’d like to receive my weekly posts about embracing life in an intense and sensitive family, don’t forget to leave your email address in the ‘Subscribe by Email‘ box below or at the top left of this page. 

The Unexpected Lessons I Learned When I Went Back to School for a Week

The Unexpected Lessons I Learned When I Went Back to School

When were you last a student in school? However much we enjoy learning, few adults spend much time in an actual classroom after we leave formal education.

So when our children tell us what’s happened to them in class, it’s difficult for even the most empathetic parent to put ourselves in their shoes and understand how our kids feel.

This month I got a reminder of what it’s like to be a student. My 12-year-old daughter was taking an intensive Spanish course and, as the rain had cruelly dashed my fantasies of lazing on the beach while Cordie got to grips with the indefinite preterite, I took the opportunity to work on my own Spanish.

My week back in the classroom gave me a fascinating first-person insight into a subject I wrote about here last week: How overexcitabilities can help you learn … and how they can hold children back in the classroom.

The class

My Spanish class only contained 5 students, but we had quite different abilities and needs.

Two were 18-year-old German au pairs, one of whom should have been in the level below.  There was 20-year-old Maria from the Netherlands spoke fluent Spanish with a strong Andaluz accent. She was in class to perfect her Spanish grammar and idioms, and spent most of her time on SnapChat. Next was sweet Dorota, a 21-year-old teacher from Poland. And finally there was me, an opinionated lawyer-turned-therapist-turned-homeschooling-mum, whose fluent Spanish spent 22 years going rusty before I began to brush it off again during our month in Spain last year.

Our teacher José was intelligent and creative, but had his work cut out to meet the needs of even such a small group of diverse students.

Not for the first time I wondered, how do teachers manage to serve the needs of 30 mixed-ability children?

And – something I found myself pondering over and over during my week’s course …

What’s it like to be a highly able child with asynchronous development and OEs in a classroom with 29 other children?

Classroom reflections

When the class topic wasn’t stimulating to me, my attention would wander. I’d discreetly doodle or make Anki flashcards, visit the bathroom or get ahead with my homework.

As an adult I was choosing to be in class. Our teacher was smart and resourceful, we were only 5 students, and the school day was just 4 hours long. I had a high degree of autonomy and plenty of experience in how to manage myself in under-stimulating situations.

I couldn’t help contrasting what it must be like for a child who’s bored in class day after day, who has no choice about being there, and who doesn’t know how to manage her intense feelings and under-utilised energy.

When the class topic was interesting to me – when our teacher talked about his Masters degree in ‘Spanglish’, for instance, or we were deconstructing a particularly interesting example of the imperfect subjunctive – I found myself talking nineteen to the dozen, eagerly releasing my pent-up intellectual energy. Then I’d catch sight of the glazed expressions on the faces of my fellow students and feel terrible for having dominated the conversation.

It sounds crazy now, and if I hadn’t written in my journal about it at the time I probably wouldn’t believe it, but even with all my knowledge about OEs, I had to make a huge effort not to internalise my feelings of shame and wrongness for being so different from my classmates.

On top of all that there was the homework, which sometimes I really didn’t feel like doing after four hours in class. Homework only took me about 45 minutes and of course I had the choice not to do it. I sympathised anew with the 12-year-olds who, after a long school day plus extra-curricular activities, are expected to spend 90 minutes each evening doing homework.

And when my classmates chewed gum, I didn’t let my stress levels to get too high before I politely explained that I have misophonia. I’ve never known people chew gum so quietly after that!😂  Schools may not allow children to eat in class, but young people with sensual OE are subject to all kinds of other sensory stimulation which impacts their baseline and  makes it difficult for them to focus.

How can we support intense and sensitive children in the classroom?

My daughter’s an extrovert who enjoys the homeschooling classes she chooses to go to,  but occasionally she finds a session frustrating or boring.

She knows there isn’t always time to dive deeply into subjects she’s curious about, and she understands that not everyone’s as intensely fascinated by the same things she is. Still, her OEs make her hyper-aware of her negative emotions, which she has to work hard to manage.

My Spanish experience gave me much more empathy for my children when they share these kind of reflections with me.

Here are some ideas that occurred to me during my week as a student about how we can support bright, intense and sensitive children in the classroom:

  • We can listen to our kids and not dismiss what they say as whining.
  • We can help them learn about themselves, including about OEs, high ability and asynchrony.
  • In particular, we can show children how their OEs can help them learn – by making them curious, creative and enthusiastic, for example.
  • We can reassure our children that just because they’re different from their classmates doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with them.
  • We can take an interest when our children bring up issues that have been superficially addressed in the classroom but haven’t been explored as deeply as they’d like. By giving them the opportunity to discuss topics in this way we can ease our kids’ feelings of frustration and keep alive their intellectual curiosity and love of learning.
  • If we sense that a child is being given too much busywork, we can talk to teachers and suggest that the child is given more autonomy to choose her own projects.
  • We can reassure our children that later in life they’ll have the opportunity to make friends from a much more diverse group of peers, whether that’s at university or as they move through life pursuing their passions and interests.

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When were you last a student?

Did you learn anything unexpected?

I’d love to hear from you, in the comments or on the Laugh, Love, Learn FaceBook page.

Don’t forget to leave your email address in the ‘Follow By Email’  box at the bottom of the page if you’d like to receive my weekly posts about life in an overexcitable family straight to your inbox. 🙂 

How Overexcitabilities Can Help You Learn – And How They Can Hold Children Back in the Classroom

How Overexcitabilities Can Help Us Learn

Can the intensities and sensitivities that often come along with high ability help us to learn? Or do they get in the way of learning?

Earlier this year I co-wrote an article about overexcitabilities and education for a MENSA newsletter. My fellow author Simone de Hoogh* had lots of interesting insights about how each of the OEs might affect a child’s experience of classroom learning. You can read our article below.

Shortly after I wrote the piece, I had my own eye-opening experience of being back in the classroom, when I took a week’s intensive Spanish course. (Let’s just say I have renewed empathy when my children occasionally grumble about their classes.)

I’ve written about these first-hand insights in a separate post, which I’ll share next week.

How overexcitabilities can help you learn – and how they can hold children back in the classroom

Too many bright children aren’t recognised as gifted and talented because the overexcitabilities (OEs) that may come with their high intelligence prevent them from achieving in a school environment.  This is not only harmful for the young people concerned – it’s also a waste for society.

According to Kazimierz Dabrowski, the more OEs a person has, the greater their development potential and their drive to improve not only their own life but also the world around them.

Dabrowski viewed overexcitabilities as innate personality traits. He identified five  types of OE, each one of which can be a double-edged sword. When supported, OEs can contribute positively to a child’s ability to learn, but in the wrong learning environment these OEs can severely impact a child’s development.

People with overexcitabilities experience life differently from those who do not have the traits. They are often intense, hyper-sensitive and react strongly to stimuli that others don’t even notice. OEs can also bring above-average energy, pleasure, creativity, interests and empathy.

Here are some of the ways OEs can affect a child’s experience of learning:

Psychomotor OE

Psychomotor OE brings abundant energy, drive and zest for life. But when a person with this OE is stressed, their urge to express their psychomotor energy grows stronger.

Imagine what happens when a well-meaning teacher who doesn’t know about OEs (and often doesn’t realise how bright her pupil is) tries to keep a child from being ‘disruptive’ by occupying him with busywork.

As the child gets more stressed (because he finds the work boring), he finds it impossible to contain his energy and becomes more and more fidgety. Being required to keep still increases his stress levels further. He’s caught in a vicious circle.

Children with psychomotor OE can find themselves in a catch-22 situation: they can’t focus on under-stimulating work, which means they don’t achieve enough to be identified as gifted and therefore offered work more suitable to their level of intelligence.

Intellectual OE

Children with intellectual OE are deeply curious and can focus for extended periods on complex issues that interest them. However their deep thirst for knowledge can give rise to incessant questioning and an inability to accept ‘because I say so’ as an answer.

These young people also have a strong sense of justice and an inability to tolerate unfairness of any sort. In adult life this drive to understand and deep sense of justice will serve them well, but at school their tendency to argue and question authority can be seen as disrespectful and challenging.

Imaginational OE

Imaginational OE, meanwhile, can bring great creativity.  But in the classroom a creative child’s tendency to go off on tangents is not usually welcomed by a teacher who needs to get through the curriculum.

Children with imaginational OE are often seen as distracted and showing a lack of respect, which means they learn to repress rather than appreciate the creativity which could later be channelled towards new inventions and future solutions to world problems.

Sensual OE

Individuals with sensual OE are capable of deeply appreciating art, nature, music and other sensory experiences.

But their acute sensitivity to stimuli can make the noise, lights, smells and general hubbub of the average classroom unbearably overstimulating, rendering children with sensual OE incapable of doing their best work.

Emotional OE

Dabrowski saw emotional OE as one of the most powerful traits contributing to personal development. Children with this OE are often deeply empathic and sensitive to others’ needs.

But at school these young people’s strong emotional reactions and their need for depth in relationships can leave them vulnerable to bullying.

Children with emotional OE can also be deeply affected by news topics discussed at school, and may struggle with the mature themes in books they are assigned if their reading level is more advanced than their chronological age.

Similarly, they may struggle to contain and process their emotions after being shown films that may be age-appropriate but which affect them much more intensely than others.

Unfortunately many teachers aren’t aware of the social and emotional challenges OEs can bring, and even those who are informed struggle to accommodate the needs of these twice-exceptional learners within the confines of the school system.

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This is a big topic which I know I’ve only touched on here. I’d love to hear from you and then maybe write in more depth about aspects of OEs and learning that you find interesting.

How do your children’s OEs affect their experience of learning?

How do you support them?

Do you have any other questions or comments about OEs and education?

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* Simone de Hoogh,  Parenting Consultant and ECHA Specialist in Gifted Education, was inspired by her experiences raising her two (now adult) children to set up PowerWood, the UK’s leading not-for-profit organisation committed to raising awareness and supporting the emotional wellbeing of families dealing with the intensity, hyper-sensitivity and super-reactivity (OEs) that often accompany high ability.

If you’d like support dealing with OEs, join me, Simone and other kindred spirits at the friendly PowerWood FaceBook group.

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I hope you’ll come back next Monday to read about my week as a student. In that post I’ll be sharing a few ideas my time in the classroom gave me about how we can support our intense children’s learning. To be sure you don’t miss it, just leave your email address in the box below or above left and you’ll receive my weekly posts straight to your inbox. 🙂

 

Hat tip: Thank you to Devon Goodwin, editor of the British MENSA Education Special Interest Group newsletter for coming up with the title of this post!

10 Things That Happen On Birthdays In Overexcitable Families

birthdays-in-an-overexcitable-family-1

What are birthdays like in your house? Are they peaceful, happy occasions, when children play nicely all day long while their smiling parents celebrate another successful year in their child-rearing career? Or are they more like this …

(1) The pressure starts to rise months in advance as the birthday child begins tortuous deliberations over what present to choose. A week before the big day he’s narrowed it down to two options. You misguidedly try to help by offering to get both, whereupon your son bursts into tears, wailing, “But that would be so selfish!”

(2) By the eve of his birthday the pressure has mounted to meltdown levels. When you go in to kiss him goodnight, you naively ask if he’s looking forward to his birthday and are dismayed to be told, “No, it’s going to be awful! Just like last year.”

As you cast your mind back to the fun he seemed to be having at the theme park you visited on his last birthday, your son continues, “And just like Christmas. Why did we have to be at their house! Why couldn’t we have stayed at home?”

You grope for a way to stem the tide of vitriol and turn the mood to pleasant birthday anticipation. “You’re looking forward to your presents, aren’t you?” But it’s too late. “No! It’s awful having to pretend I like my presents when really I hate them! Like that rubber octopus that the eyes broke off within a week!” (Referring to a stocking-filler squidgy toy he played with 24/7 until not only its octopussy eyes but most of its tentacles were worn away.)

You eventually calm your distraught son by reassuring him (fingers crossed) that in the morning when he opens his presents from his immediate family he can be completely honest in his reactions to his presents.

(3) The big day dawns and birthday boy wakes, smiling and refreshed. He glances happily at the little pile of wrapped gifts and opens the card his sister hands him. Each card then has to be opened before any presents are unwrapped, “because I’ve opened one card now. It would be unethical to ignore the rest.”

(4) You’re delighted when your son asks to go to the climbing wall as his birthday treat. All that exercise will help use up some of his psychomotor energy in preparation for the sugar rush that is birthday cake.

(5) Less auspiciously, he wants to follow up with ten-pin bowling. Despite your best efforts to end up in last place yourself, your heart sinks as birthday boy’s final ball barrels into the gully, an enormous zero flashes onto the scoreboard, and the inevitable meltdown ensues. You drive home in silence.

(6)  Your daughter, whose latest passion is watching cake-decorating videos, has decided to decorate her brother’s birthday cake with his favourite video game character. She’s planned it all out in her imagination but despite your gentle suggestions that she practise, she’s never actually made icing, drawn the design or used a piping bag before she attempts the project on the big day.

Temmie birthday cake - overexcitabilities and birthdaysYou’re thrilled at the result of her efforts, but your daughter  is tearfully crestfallen at the apparent chasm between the cake she designed in her imagination and the one she’s managed to create.

Many hugs and the birthday boy’s exclamations of delight later, big sister is consoled, and you all sing Happy Birthday.

(7) Birthday boy helps himself to an enormous slice of chocolate cake and you brace yourself for the sugar roller coaster.  All goes well as the kids run straight out to the trampoline, though when they contort arms and legs into monster limbs using one of their dad’s sweaters, you suggest they move the game onto a less bouncy surface.

(8) Disaster. Wagamamas doesn’t have a side table available for dinner. The four of you squeeze onto a bench in between a dad with his two daughters and a twenty-something couple. You smile apologetically as birthday boy expresses his feelings about having to share a table. Times like this you really want to explain that your son is not Veruca Salt, he’s just incredibly sensitive to noise, light and touch (on the best of days, let alone at the end of an overwhelming, sugar-fuelled birthday).

(9) Back home from the restaurant, your daughter finally cracks from the pressure of being nice to her brother all day. You spend fifteen minutes cuddling, wiping tears and appreciating her for being such a lovely sister.

(10) 10:30PM. Birthday boy comes to show you he’s solved the 3D wooden puzzle Grandma gave him and to describe the life cycle of a star he’s just learned about in his new space encyclopedia. He hugs you tightly and tells you he’s had the best birthday ever. You collapse into bed smiling, exhausted and relieved.

(How many days until the next birthday..?)

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What are birthdays like in your house?

What are your top  tips for maximising the fun and minimising the meltdowns?

I’d love to hear from you, in the comments or on the Laugh, Love, Learn Facebook page!

 

Don’t forget to write your email address in the box below or at the top left to receive my weekly posts about life in an overexcitable family straight to your inbox. 🙂 

10 Things that Happen to OE Families on Vacation (that probably don’t happen to other families)

10 Things that Happen to OE Families on Vacation

1. When getting ready to pack (a week in advance), you pull up your ‘Holiday list – winter’ document from your computer and save a new ‘2016’ version, colour-coded according to the location of items. You then spend half an hour meandering through lists from bygone years, growing teary-eyed as you cast your eyes over things like sippy-cups, toy cars and bedtime song cassettes.

You later arrive in the mountains to discover you haven’t brought your daughter’s ski gloves, while your non-OE friend who packed without the assistance of a list hasn’t forgotten a thing. How do they do that?!

2.  The middle-aged couples on two separate nearby tables ask to be reseated in the hotel restaurant because your exuberant son doesn’t understand the idea of an inside voice, let alone a polite restaurant voice.

3. You find yourself explaining Dabrowski’s Theory of Positive Disintegration to your daughter who wants to go skiing but is feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of getting into all her gear. ‘So if you use your wonderful imagination to envisage all the fun you’re going to have out on the mountains, and if your brain could break down the process of getting ready into bite-sized chunks, what would you do first?’

4.  You’re not the least surprised when your son, who’s been leaping around at breakfast shouting, ‘C’mon! Let’s hit the slopes!’ announces, exhausted, at bedtime, ‘I never want to go skiing again!’ In fact, you could have written the script.

5.  You run your hands through your freshly-washed hair in the hotel elevator, then turn around and are shocked to see your daughter on the verge of tears. ‘I’m sorry! I just can’t take the smell of your hair combined with Jasper’s humming in this small space!’

6.  Your husband asks, ‘Do you mind if I eat pistachio nuts?’ as you enjoy a pre-dinner drink together in your hotel room. ‘Sure,’ you say, reaching for your headphones and white noise app.

7.  Your 10-year-old wears the same T-shirt for seven days straight because he doesn’t like the colour of any of the other six you pulled out of his wardrobe when you packed the suitcases.

8.  Your daughter’s thrilled to discover there are 15 sequels to the book she’s reading at the start of your holiday. She finishes the series on the flight home.

9.  At breakfast on your last day, while contemplating the eight hour journey home, you have a lively family discussion about teleportation, time travel, worm holes and the nature of consciousness – subjects no one ever tires of.

10.  You experience the blissful sensation of ASMR as you drive home past glassy Italian lakes and  breathtakingly vast snow-capped Alps.

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Every single one of these things truly happened to us last week. So come on, tell me – is it just me?

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What’s your favourite family vacation story?

Anyone else get blissed-out on scenery?

How do you deal with the overwhelming task of packing?

How Many People Have Overexcitabilities? & Other FAQs

overexcitabilities FAQ

Do you ever wish you could press the pause button on your life? Slip away with a pile of books for a long weekend at a luxury spa hotel, perhaps?  Then return, refreshed and ready to swing back into the groove?

I’ve found myself dreaming about that pause button over the last few weeks.

So instead of starting a new story, today I decided to dig deeper into the subject of overexcitabilities by having a little Q&A session with myself.  Getting things clear in my mind feels soothing. (Is that an OE thing? 😉)

What are overexcitabilities?

Overexcitabilities (OEs) are innate personality traits. You’re either born with them, or you’re not. They’re with you for life, and with any luck you get more practised at managing them as you get older.

The nervous systems of people with OEs are both more sensitive, and more responsive, to stimuli. Individuals with OEs have a greater awareness of things, inside and outside of them, than most other people.

When were overexcitabilities first identified?

Overexcitabilities are a part of the personality theory developed by Polish psychologist Kazimierz Dabrowski (1902-1980). Dabrowski’s  Theory of Positive Disintegration is now credited to be the leading personality theory of the twenty-first century. Weirdly, not many people have heard of it (including me until a year ago), but I’m trying to do my little bit to spread the word.

Dabrowski identified five types of overexcitability: psychomotor, sensual, imaginational, intellectual and emotional.

How many people have overexcitabilities?

Psychologists estimate that about one in five people have OEs. Between two and four percent of people experience OEs in a way that brings challenges to daily life.

According to the latest research, OEs mostly occur in individuals with an IQ of over 110.

OEs are usually more intense in high-able individuals, but not every person with a high IQ has OEs.

Are there any risks associated with overexcitabilities?

People with the increased sensitivity, awareness and intensity that OEs bring experience the world very differently from other people. This means they behave differently.

Unfortunately we live in a society which, whatever people might say about valuing creativity and innovation,  rewards conformity, especially in children.

Children who behave differently – especially when they ‘over’-react, are ’too’ sensitive, can’t stop asking questions or aren’t able to sit still – face disapproval.

One of the biggest risks to a child who has OEs is that they grow up with a negative view of themselves. Many become extremely unhappy or depressed. Some even express suicidal thoughts.

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People with OEs also often experience asynchronous development, twice-exceptionality (high-ability combined with a learning difficulty like dyslexia), or sensory processing and anxiety-related issues.

Is there a positive side to having overexcitabilities?

Individuals with OEs experience life – including the good bits – more intensely.

Depending on the particular combination of OEs you have, beautiful art can be intensely moving, fine food can taste exquisite, small acts of kindness can instil deep appreciation, heavenly worlds can be imagined, passions can be pursued to their joyful fullest, and sports can be enjoyed with ferocious intensity.

Overexcitabilities - Frequently Asked Questions

According to Dabrowski, OEs are one of three factors that are necessary for advanced personal development. Innate ability is also required, and the third pre-requisite is the capacity for self-directed emotional growth.

It is this third factor, in particular – self-directed emotional growth – that we can nurture. If we allow our children to grow in tune with their authentic passions and confident of their ability to attain their goals, we can give them a huge boost along the way towards creating their happiest possible lives and contributing to the world around them.

How can we help children value their overexcitabilities?

There are many things we can do to help our sensitive, intense children appreciate who they are and find their place in the world.

We can advocate for them in a society that doesn’t always understand their needs. We can stop holding them to standards they struggle in vain to meet.  We can help them stay in touch with their intrinsic motivations. And we can show them ways to manage their intensity.

But perhaps the most important place to start is with ourselves.

OE character traits are genetic – if your children have overexcitabilities, the chances are that you have them too. For me, learning to understand and appreciate my own OEs is an important first step towards helping my children manage and value theirs.

I’ve found that improving my energy levels and resilience is the best way for me to manage my own OEs. I’ll share more next time about how and why I do this.

Do you have any questions about OEs?

How do you help your children appreciate their quirkiness?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments or on the Laugh, Love, Learn Facebook page.

* * *

*Simone de Hoogh is one of the founding directors of PowerWood, the UK’s leading not-for-profit organisation which supports people dealing with OEs. Much of the information in this post comes from the PowerWood General Information About OEs flyer. You can find a copy of the flyer here. If you’d like extra copies of the flyer to distribute in schools, health practices etc, leave a comment or email simone@powerwood.org.uk.

My Child Has Overexcitabilities – Now What?

My Child Has Overexcitabilities - What Now?

If you followed my series on the five types of overexcitability and discovered that your child has OEs, you’re probably asking, “Now what?”

When I first learned about overexcitabilities, my first reaction was a feeling of enormous relief to finally have an explanation for my son’s intense, sensitive behaviour. Next, I wanted to know how I could use this information to help my son be happier and find his place in the world.

Overexcitabilities are one part of a much broader theory of personality development. When we understand their place in this context, we can begin to appreciate the benefits OEs bring. Only then can we can start to deal appropriately with the accompanying challenges.

Finding out about OEs is not like getting a diagnosis: OE s aren’t a disorder, although they’re often mistaken for one.

OEs and Misdiagnosis

When you’ve spent years desperately trying to figure out what’s going on with your intense/sensitive/explosive child, you’ve probably spent a lot of time blaming yourself for his behaviour, and feeling judged by others too.

You’ve tried every parenting technique out there but nothing’s worked: you’re obviously doing something wrong (you think). So you begin trailing round the professionals.

And because OEs can look a lot like psychological disorders, the chances are that before long some well-meaning professional ticks enough boxes to diagnose your child with one. When this happens, among the complex and mixed emotions you feel at this point is relief: it’s not your fault.

I know I felt this way when my son was diagnosed, aged seven, with Sensory Processing Disorder. Finally I was finally able to tell sports coaches, frowning museum curators and friends that Jasper wasn’t deliberately being rude or naughty – his behaviour stemmed from the unreliable way his senses processed information.

In retrospect, I suspect that Jasper’s SPD ‘symptoms’ were actually caused by his psychomotor and sensual OEs, which may explain why the year of therapy he received made no difference to his behaviour. (A fact the occupational therapists explained away by suggesting that my son had ADHD as well!)

I’m not saying that children can’t have OEs as well as a psychological disorder, and if your child’s been diagnosed with one and the treatment is helpful, that’s great. (Whatever works!) But often there is no effective therapy, and the relief a parent feels on receiving a diagnosis quickly turns into helplessness and frustration. Of course, effective treatment is even less likely if the child doesn’t have the disorder to begin with.

Overexcitabilities as a starting point

But when we realise that overexcitabilities are at the root of a child’s behaviour we find ourselves, not trapped inside a labelled box, but at the start of a journey.

Overexcitabilities are a part of the personality theory which was the life’s work of the brilliantly creative and humane psychologist Kazimierz Dabrowski (1902-1980).

According to Dabrowski, three factors must be present for advanced personal development:

(1) Innate ability (intelligence, talents, etc)

(2) Overexcitabilities, which provide the drive or energy to move forward

(3) The capacity for self-directed emotional growth.

In other words, OEs are a gift. Yes, our kids’ OEs can bring challenging behaviours that make us wonder, in us our darker moments, how the heck they’re going to cope with adult life. But we need to remember that it is the OEs themselves that will provide our children with the drive and energy to develop into fulfilled, self-actualised adults.

For me, reframing OEs in this way is a powerful place to start when it comes to supporting our children.

Nurturing our children’s capacity for emotional growth

Dabrowski himself believed that all three of the above factors were innate – you’re either born with them or you’re not. But other psychologists believe a person’s capacity for personal growth can be affected by their environment.

My own feeling is that this is very much the case. Someone whose basic needs (for health, shelter, or love for example) aren’t being met won’t have any spare energy to move forward, no matter what their innate potential might have been.

As parents of children with OEs, we can show our kids how to direct their energy towards their self-chosen goals. If we do it well, we’ll send our children into the world equipped to find a way through the frustration, conflict and struggle they’ll experience during their lives and able to use those feelings as opportunities for inner growth and to contribute to the world around them.

How can we support our intense and sensitive children?

Firstly, I believe we need to teach our children that their OEs are an innate and valuable strength, not something to be repressed.

Second, we must show them how to channel the powerful energy that OEs bring (“there is a delicate balance between honouring a feeling and managing its expression” – Daniels & Piechowski, Living With Intensity).

Often as parents of intense, sensitive, hyper-reactive children, all our energy gets spent fire-fighting – dealing with the day-to-day challenges that life with these children throws at us (usually at the same time as managing our own OEs).
We find ourselves desperately reaching out – “How can I stop my child doing …?”,  “Help! My child keeps…”,   “How do you deal with …?” etc. Of course we need this kind of support, and I intend to share tools and resources to help here on this blog.

But much of our stress as parents comes from worrying that there’s something wrong with our children and feeling anxious about their future. If we can keep focused on the positive role OEs can play in helping our kids be their best possible selves, growing towards a great future, we can save ourselves a huge amount of worry – leaving us with more energy to support and nurture these extraordinary young people.

What do you think?

  • What do you think it’s important for kids with OEs to know?
  • Was your child with OEs misdiagnosed?
  • What else would you like to know about OEs?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments, on the Laugh, Love, Learn Facebook page or by email.

Resources

There’s a lot more to Dabrowski’s Theory of Positive Disintegration than I’ve had space to talk about here. I’ll explore other aspects of his theory in a future post. In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more, here are a few places to start:

Websites

SENG: Dabrowski’s Theory of Positive Disintegration: Some implications for teachers of gifted students

Bill Tillier: The Theory of Positive Disintegration by Kazimierz Dabrowski

PowerWood: Perspective for the High-Able: Dabrowski

Support for families dealing with overexcitabilities: PowerWood

Books

Living with Intensity by Daniels & Piechowski

Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnosis of Gifted Children and Adults by James T Webb

 

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15 Things Your Child With Emotional Overexcitability Might Say

15 Things Your Child With Emotional Overexcitability Might SayPeople with emotional overexcitability feel things intensely. During the course of a single day (or hour) a child with emotional OE might go from dancing with joy to rolling on the floor in the depths of despair and back again. Many are acutely attuned to other people’s feelings and care deeply about loved ones’ wellbeing, sometimes to a degree that gets in the way of them meeting their own needs.

Children with emotional OE experience deeper, more complex emotions than many adults around them realise is possible for a child their age. These are the children who in generations past were told (and sadly sometimes still are) to ‘toughen up’ or ‘stop being so sensitive’.

Some, like my daughter, find it easy to share their feelings verbally. Others struggle to express the extreme emotions going on inside them – even to themselves. These children can grow increasingly frustrated and end up releasing their feelings in a sudden torrent, much to the bewilderment of those around them.

If you have emotional overexcitability you may well have recognised yourself and your child from what I’ve said already. If not, here are some clues.

15 Things your child with emotional overexcitability might say . . .

I love you” Yes, most children say this, but a child with emotional OE will say it as he embraces his best friend so hard that she falls over. Or through eyes brimming with tears as she struggles to contain the intensity of her love. Or, just before she goes to sleep on Christmas Day, in a long and poignant text message, accompanied by 27 multi-coloured hearts.

I hate you” This one will be accompanied by a facial expression that leaves you in no doubt that he really means it! (At least in the moment he’s uttering the words.)

We need to help her” Said about a stray dog, a homeless person begging, or a toddler crying in the park. These children feel what others feel and are deeply affected by those feelings, often giving rise to a compelling urge to help.

What should I do?” The heightened empathy these kids feel can mean they tend to put others’ feelings above their own needs. They might have a strong desire to do something but be paralysed by second-guessing what they believe someone else wants. Meanwhile the other person is completely unaware of the problem because the child doesn’t want to upset them by bringing it up!

My daughter had some coaching last year to help her understand more about her OEs. During one session (which she later shared with me) she talked about the clothes she wears on Scout camps. Being a good mummy, I’d always bought the exact (unisex) items written on the kit lists.

Meanwhile, the other female Scouts had started to wear more fashionable clothes, and Cordie wanted to do the same (we’re talking girl-cut combat trousers here, not high heels). But because she’d always seen me buying the exact items from the list, Cordie felt that practicality and economy were of paramount importance to me, and was afraid to tell me what she really wanted.

Of course once I discovered what was going on, I was able to reassure Cordie that her feelings mattered, and now we both enjoy shopping for pretty-coloured fleeces and cute bobble hats. 🙂

I want things to stay the same” Children with emotional overexcitability can develop deep emotional bonds with family, friends, animals, places and things. As a result, they often want everything to be permanent, and can struggle with changes like moving house or school.

So when you’re planning a trip away you might hear . . .

I can’t go on holiday without Harvey!” [the dog]

And when you suggest pruning their wardrobe . . .

But why can’t I wear this T-shirt any more?” (about a garment whose hem is now just above his navel).  My mum once cut the arms off a cardigan I insisted on wearing long after it had become threadbare. I retrieved the sleeves from the bin and made her take this photograph of me ‘wearing’ the dismembered cardi for the last time.

15 Things Your Child With Emotional Overexcitability Might Say

I’ve said something that upset her” People with emotional overexcitability can spend hours worrying about little things they’ve said that might have upset or caused offence to another person.  (One strategy that can help assuage a child’s anxiety is to acknowledge the validity of her feelings while gently reassuring her that the other person probably isn’t experiencing what happened in the same way.)

You’re my best friend” If you have emotional overexcitability you have a strong need for depth and intensity in relationships. A child might move from one short-lived friendship to another, never feeling fulfilled.  If they’re lucky enough to find a kindred spirit, they will be passionate and loyal friends.

However, their need for depth in relationships can cause them to overstep other people’s boundaries and scare away the people they’re trying to connect with. So you might hear the heart-breaking words …

Why won’t they let me play?”  When a child with emotional OE does experience a friendship intensely, he expects the friendship to last for life and might mourn for months when a new friend doesn’t want to play any more.   He can also become upset when his intense feelings aren’t reciprocated. Even the most confident child with emotional OE can feel lonely and might even be prone to being bullied.

I just want to die” I remember reeling in shock the first time I heard my son say these words. What on earth could lead an eight-year-old to say such an awful thing? I’ve since found out that it’s not at all uncommon for kids with emotional overexcitability to express sentiments like these.

When a child with emotional OE feels completely overwhelmed by a negative emotion, he doesn’t have the experience to know that the feeling will pass, and he feels like it will last forever. Parents of teenagers with emotional OE have told me that, for similar reasons, as these young people get older they can be prone to bouts of ‘what’s the point of living?’ existential depression.

This is the best day ever!” Other times – when he’s won a game, is eating a delicious meal or is about to play with his favourite cousin – your emotionally OE child can light up the house with his radiant gladness. Maybe even on the same day as he’s told you he doesn’t want to go on living.

Which isn’t to say that this young person’s emotions are superficially felt. On the contrary, these children are genuinely capable of experiencing a breathtakingly wide range of intense and complex emotions in a short space of time.

Turn it off!” While children with sensual OE are sensitive to input coming through their senses, kids with emotional OE react strongly to the content of what they experience. These children might be so moved by a story, TV programme or the words of a song that they become quite distressed.

When my daughter was six she loved the movie High School Musical. We were listening to the soundtrack in the car one day when Cordie suddenly stopped singing and shouted “Turn it off!”

I turned round in surprise to see tears streaming down her cheeks. It wasn’t until later that I figured out that her upset had been triggered by the lyrics of a song in which the lead characters break up. (“I’ve got to move on and be who I am. I just don’t belong here, I hope you understand. We might find our place in this world someday. But at least for now, I gotta go my own way…”)

Now she’s 12, my daughter’s learned to be more discerning about what she watches and listens to and is better able to communicate what’s going on inside, but when she was little I had to be very vigilant to help her manage the strong feelings that could be aroused by the most unlikely triggers, like Barbie movies or kids’ picture books.

These children can also be very upset by by real world news events, and may need special care and attention at home if tragic stories have been discussed in school.

My tummy hurts” People with emotional overexcitability often respond physically to their emotions, with anxiety-induced headaches or stomach aches. This can be a useful clue about what’s going on inside a child who has trouble finding the words to describe what they’re feeling.

Arghh!” When their intense feelings become too much for the child to hold in, they might suddenly overreact to a minor setback with disproportionate meltdowns. Kids who have difficulty expressing what they’re feeling are especially prone to this.

“Adults can help these children distinguish between their feelings and behaviours. … There is a delicate balance in honoring a feeling and managing its expression.”

(Living With Intensity)

And then there are the many things children with emotional overexcitability don’t say . . .

You can be sure that for every feeling he verbalises, a child with emotional OE experiences many more emotions that aren’t expressed.

Some children learn to hide their sensitivity to protect themselves, even becoming quite withdrawn. Other children’s intense feelings simmer inside them, causing an increasing amount of inner distress until they suddenly pour out like lava from a volcano.

Even children who never seem to stop talking (like those with psychomotor OE) are likely to feel myriad complex emotions for every one they give voice to.

* * *

The positive side of emotional overexcitability

Of all the OEs, emotional overexcitability is the one I most wish I’d known about when I was growing up. Over time I’ve found strategies for managing my intense emotions – journalling, for instance – but I always thought there was something wrong with me for being so sensitive. It wasn’t until I learned about emotional OE at a PowerWood workshop  last year that I finally began to value this part of myself (yep, there were tears).

As the mother of two children with emotional OE, I’m helping my kids learn how to manage their emotions, but – even more importantly – I want them to know what an asset emotional overexcitability can be. While not every emotionally OE child will grow up to be Gandhi or Mother Theresa, everyone who has this innate personality trait has the drive to improve themselves and make a difference in the world. They were made this way for a reason and the world needs them, just the way they are.

Over to you

  • Do you or your child have emotional overexcitability?
  • How do you help your emotionally OE child with friendships?
  • What are your tips for helping your child to express his emotions?

I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or on the Laugh, Love, Learn Facebook page.

If you have any questions about any of the overexcitabilities please feel free to drop me an email. Psychologist and OE expert Simone de Hoogh is now working with me here at Laugh, Love, Learn. We’d love to know what’s on your mind so we can provide answers to any concerns you might have.

* * * 

This is the final part in my series on the five types of overexcitability. See also:

Part 1: 7 Signs Your Child Has Psychomotor Overexcitability

Part 2: What Is Sensual Overexcitability?

Part 3: The Ups and Downs of Imaginational Overexcitability

Part 4: 6 Things You Need If Your Child Has Intellectual Overexcitability

Next week I’ll be talking about the positive role of overexcitabililties in personal development and how we can teach our children to appreciate their OEs. Fill in the Follow by Email box below to get it straight to your inbox.

15 Things your child with emotional overexcitability might say

Emotional Overexcitability – Resources

Websites

PowerWood – Emotional overexcitability

Jade Ann Rivera – How to identify and cope with overexcitabilities, part 1 of 5: Emotional overexcitability

SENG – The gift of emotional overexcitabilities

Books

Living With Intensity: Understanding the Sensitivity, Excitability and Emotional Development of Gifted Children, Adolescents and Adults (Daniels and Piechowski)

Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnosis of Gifted Children and Adults (James T Webb)

15 Things your child with emotional overexcitability might say

To find out if you or someone in your family has overexcitabilities, take the free online OE questionnaire at the PowerWood website. (Results come back by return email.)

15 Things Your Child With Emotional Overexcitability Might Say

6 Things You Need If Your Child Has Intellectual Overexcitability

6 Things You Need If Your Child Has Intellectual Overexcitability

Intellectual overexcitability is sometimes described as ‘perpetual toddler syndrome’ (Living With Intensity). Children with intellectual OE ask questions. Lots of questions.

“How many people exactly are there in the world? That book in our bathroom says 278 babies are born in the time it takes to read to the bottom of the page. Who counts them?”

“What do you think dogs dream about?”

“Who invented scooters?”

These children have an insatiable thirst for knowledge, love solving puzzles, often have a deep interest in moral issues, and can ponder problems for hours.

“Which two animals would you like to cross, Mummy?”

“I’m not sure, sweetie. Let me have a think. How about you?”

“Well, for land, my answer would be a lobster and an elephant. My sea animals would be a swordfish and a jellyfish. For air, it would probably be peregrine falcon and a mosquito. And if I could cross land, air and sea…”

Parenting these incessantly curious children is a delight – and can be exhausting! Here are a few of the things I’ve discovered you need to make the most of the delight and minimise the exhaustion . . .

1. Books

I’m sure no one reading this needs telling that kids with intellectual OE love books. For most parents the biggest problem is probably how to prise the book out of their child’s hands during meals or at bedtime. {When I was a kid I used to cover my lamp to stop my parents seeing my reading light under my bedroom door. That stopped the day my mum came upstairs saying she could smell smoke and discovered I’d burned a hole in my dressing gown. 😮 }

If your intellectually OE child, like mine, has other special needs which make reading challenging  (like dyslexia or ADHD), audiobooks can be a godsend.

My ten-year-old’s headphones are as permanently attached to him as a book was to me when I was growing up. With an Audible subscription each book only costs a few pounds, so your twice-exceptional child’s book habit needn’t break the bank.

6 Things You NeedIf Your Child Has Intellectual Overexcitability
We also love non-fiction compilations with plenty of pictures, like these in our bathroom ‘library’. The Bill Bryson is also available as an audiobook.

2. Smartphone

Books are all very well but what about those need-to-know-now emergencies that happen while you’re out of the house? Like when you’re walking along the beach and can’t remember the word for someone who does magic with water {hydromancer}. Or in a restaurant and you want to know which country has most vegetarians {India}. Or on a London bus and wonder how tall the tallest building in the world is {2722ft – the Burj Khalifa, Dubai. Thanks, Google!}

3. Quiet zone

Engaging with intellectually OE kids can be wonderfully stimulating, but keeping up with their energy at the same time as doing all the other things adult life requires can be a challenge.  You need time to recharge, especially if you’re a sensually OE introvert like me.

As a homeschooling mum I spend almost all my time with my children so it’s crucial for me to look after my energy and emotional wellbeing throughout the day. I’ve learned the hard way that no one benefits if I ignore my body’s signs that I need a few minutes’ quiet time.

If making a physical retreat isn’t possible, like when I’m in the middle of cooking dinner or back when I had to keep an eye on little ones, I create some virtual space with a white noise app like Brain Wave.

4. A relaxation technique

Make your time in your quiet zone as restorative as possible by finding a relaxation technique that works for you.  Whether it’s meditation, yoga, prayer, mindfulness or just five minutes curled up with a grown-up book, the time you invest in relaxing will allow you to give better quality attention to your intellectually OE child later.

My kids think of my 15-minute meditation sessions as ‘Mummy reboots’.  I usually find my mind wanders less if I listen to guided visualisations while meditating. Other people prefer to listen to relaxing music or just to breathe deeply. I also like the Buddhify mindfulness app which has over eighty short meditations suitable for all sorts of locations and moods.

6 Things You NeedIf Your Child Has Intellectual Overexcitability - Buddhify

5. Thick skin

For me, one of the most challenging aspects of raising a child with OEs is dealing with other people. Whether your four-year-old is asking a woman on the train why she has a moustache or your nine-year-old isn’t letting other children get a word in edgeways at a workshop, you’re all-too-often aware of other people judging your parenting skills. This can be especially stressful if you have emotional overexcitability.

If only growing a thicker skin really was an option. To be honest I’m still working on this one, but two things  I’ve learned so far are:

(1) Try not to take other people’s reactions personally. They don’t know about OEs or what it’s like to bring up a child whose insatiable need to know can drive them to ask question after question, long after social convention would have them stop.

(2) Focus on the positive side of intellectual overexcitability by cherishing the gift of curiosity and remembering that behind all of history’s greatest engineers and scientists was probably an (at times) embarrassed mother.

6. The ability to explain complex ideas in child-friendly terms

When my kids were little, older relations used to warn me against explaining myself to them.  “They should just learn to accept ‘Because I say so’”, they reasoned.

But even if I’d agreed with that advice, my kids had other ideas. Children with intellectual OE won’t be fobbed off, so in my experience there’s no point wearing yourself out trying. (Besides which, you’d miss out on some great conversations.)

A child with intellectual OE needs to understand.  So whatever your child’s age, be prepared for lengthy debates on such matters as why we have to clean our teeth, whether parallel universes exist, what should be done about homelessness and why the long division algorithm works, from the second they wake up until the moment they go to sleep. (See the importance of quiet time and relaxation, above!)

Over to you

  • What does intellectual overexcitability look like in your family?
  • Have you had any embarrassing moments when your child hasn’t been able to stop themselves from blurting out a question in public?
  • What are your top tips for recharging your energy?

I’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below or on the Laugh, Love, Learn Facebook page, or drop me an email.

Intellectual overexcitability resources

Jade Ann Rivera – How to Identify and Cope with Overexcitabilities, Part 3 of 5: Intellectual Overexcitability

PowerWood – Intellectual OE

Living With Intensity by Susan Daniels and Michael Piechowski

* * *

This is part four of my series on the five types of overexcitability. See also:

7 Signs Your Child Has Psychomotor Overexcitability,

What Is Sensual Overexcitability? and

The Ups and Downs of Imaginational Overexcitability.

Next week I’ll be ending the series by talking about emotional overexcitability. Fill in the Subscribe by Email box below to get it straight to your inbox.

* * *

To find out if you or someone in your family has OEs, take the free online OE questionnaire at the PowerWood website. (Results come back by return email.)

 

 

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