Have you ever felt happiness so intense, you just had to move your body? Or whoop with joy?
Most people only feel that good when they win the lottery or their favourite team beats their arch-rivals. But when you have overexcitabilities, you don’t need a big win to feel on top of the world.
Depending on your combination of OEs, everyday experiences like listening to music, skimming stones on a lake, or engrossing yourself in a story or hobby can all trigger euphoric states.
For me yesterday, it was walking my dogs on a beautiful spring day as hundreds of daffodils danced joyfully beside me in the breeze.
When you feel so good you have to skip
I’m not exaggerating when I say that my body was filled with such intense joy, I wanted to skip, dance, sing, and shout.
I smiled as I imagined what my fellow pedestrians would think if I followed my impulses. I contented myself with little bursts of jogging: ‘They’ll probably just think I’m in a hurry.’ 😉
Later, I got to thinking how children with OEs might feel:
The 11-year-old who’s so buzzing with excitement about a topic he’s researching that he can’t stop talking about it.
The 4-year-old who’s created a whole imaginary world with her toys.
The 7-year-old who wants to jump and sing and spin.
Learning to tone ourselves down
I thought about what it’s like to be a child. How would I have felt on my joyful walk if someone had suddenly demanded that I stop and sit down quietly?
I’d have struggled to comply. The energy inside me was so intense, I just had to move. If I had tried to stop, I’d have been acting against powerful inner guidance. Maybe I shouldn’t trust my feelings? But they felt so good… Perhaps I shouldn’t trust the person telling me to suppress them? Over time, I might end up mistrusting both myself and the people telling me to tone myself down.
Managing OEs takes willpower and practice
When OEs are part of your wiring, they’re not something you can easily switch off or turn down – at least not without a lot of internal stress.
No wonder these children ‘over’-react. When you’re using enormous amounts of willpower to contain your OEs, you don’t have much left to deal with the little upsets other children take in their stride.
As an adult, I know when it’s appropriate to tone down my intensity. And I have years of experience in doing so.
On my joyful walk, I knew to save my skipping for when I’d left the suburban street and was walking in the woods, with only my dogs to regard me quizzically as I danced and sang.
Straight afterwards, I had to take my car to the garage. I knew I wouldn’t be able to focus while I was giddy with spring excitement, so to calm myself I switched off my music and focused on my breathing for a few minutes.
How can we help our kids learn these kind of skills?
Why children need to enjoy their OEs before they can manage them
My intense experience gave me fresh insight into how we can help children modulate their intensities:
1. Create opportunities for them to enjoy their intensity
We need to help children recognise and appreciate the joy their overexcitabilities can bring.
Kids with intense OEs get so much negative feedback about their behaviour, they can end up feeling as if they have to suppress their intensity all the time.
But when they have the chance to enjoy their OEs, they can begin to embrace their authentic natures. This is the first step towards calibrating and managing their overexcitabilities.
We can support them by building into our children’s schedules plenty of opportunities for them to experience the joy their OEs can bring. And we can provide (physically and emotionally) safe spaces for the expressions intensity inspires.
2. Grow willpower, but reduce the need for it
Managing OEs costs willpower. We can minimise the drain on our children’s reserves by:
- giving them as much autonomy and control over their schedules and their environments as possible, and
- when they need to be calm, helping reduce the (internal and external) sensory stimulation that cranks up their intensities.
To prepare them for times when they have to use willpower to control their OEs, we can encourage children to identify and do things that increase their window of stress tolerance.
Finally, we can teach strategies for modulating their intensities, such as breathing techniques or engaging their rational brains to calm their emotions.
* * *
Bringing up children with OEs is hard work. We want our kids to become well-adjusted adults who can lead ’normal’ lives, so it’s not surprising that we focus on getting them to tone down their extremes.
But intense is these children’s normal.
So let’s help them appreciate the joy their intense natures can bring. Doing so might just be the quickest way for them to harness their awesome power – and use it to serve themselves and the world.
Do you ever skip in the woods?
How do your children enjoy their OEs?
I’d love to hear from you 🙂
Main photo credit: LoggaWiggler,