Emotional Development II

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This week we are exploring the emotional development of gifted individuals. This is the section section of four parts.

How do we as parents, librarians, teachers, and counselors help? The most ideal situation is to assist when they are young; this support early on gives them confidence in themselves and how to handle these particular sensitivities. There are four aspects to emotionally developing gifted children, according to Judith Wynn Halsted, and they are as follows:

  1. Establishing an identity
  2. Being alone
  3. Getting along with others
  4. Using Abilities (Halsted, 1988)

Today we look into the second trait:

2. Being alone

According to Halsted, there are three types of aloneness: being alone and liking it, being alone and lonely, and being alone and different (1988).

Being alone and liking it means it is a choice. The need for alone time in a gifted child is sometimes just as important as the need for satisfying intellectual pursuits. It is a time of incubation, reflection, and stillness which allows an overactive mind solitude to just “be.” They may use it to read, to draw, to think. It is a time for dreaming.

Being alone and lonely – this can be withdrawal due to not feeling accepted by other kids. It can be a profound sense of not belonging, mainly because they do not understand their own giftedness (Halsted, 1998). If they understand more about themselves or how they can make friends, they can remedy this feeling of lonely and do something about it.

Being alone and different is something that gifted kids will have to accept about themselves. They are different and they can feel it, even if they get along with other kids or hide who they really are. It is a sensation that doesn’t go away but grows with them as they age, and it is something that just becomes a part of them. “It takes courage to be oneself, to be different, to like oneself in spite of the difference (Halsted, 1988).” She’s right. As educators and parents we can help them along with this feeling. We give them the strength to stand up and be themselves, to demand to be accepted as who they are, and to not let the feeling of aloneness that comes through difference overtake them, but fuel them. It is what sets them apart. It is the steely-inner stuff with which they are made.

As the parents and educators who look after these solitary kids, we can aid them in their endeavors by providing quality alone time for when they need it. In the library, we can create a space or a series of spaces where children can get away from everyone and study, read, or think, and as parents, we can do this at home. If they are feeling alone because of withdrawal, we can support them by talking to them about it, giving them books on the subject of giftedness, or encourage them to join programs within or outside of school that peak their interest and where they can find friends who align with their personality desires. If they are feeling particularly different, there are loads of novels and poem and films about feeling like an outsider. This would give them confidence by seeing others in their situation. Also, we can support them by celebrating their differences, and letting them know that you think they are special because of how different they are than others.

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