So, you may have heard me mention a time or two, perhaps in passing, that I have an emotionally intense son.
(And…the winner for Understatement Of The Year, Blog Edition…goes to…Jen! From Laughing at Chaos!!! <the crowd goes wild>)
Yes, it’s true. I have an emotionally intense nine year old. And husband. And self. The jury is still out on the six year old and the dog, but I suspect they’re considerably more of the “dude, what’s the deal?” variety. I really feel for J; he’s the only second born in a house of Type A first born children.
For years I have desperately wanted a hotline, a counselor, a book, anything, that could help me with A. He is not in any parenting book, magazine, or website. He’s kinda sorta in gifted books, but I needed answers on how to parent him, not further descriptions of the hell I was already living. Finally, five years after I was convinced A was going to be the death of me (no, I hadn’t yet learned that red wine was a necessity for raising gifted kids), the book I needed is here.
Christine Fonseca has written “Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students: Helping Kids Cope With Explosive Feelings” as a guidebook for parents and teachers. We know what we’re living with, we need help in raising them. Too often intensity is diagnosed as a disorder (think ADHD or ODD), instead of viewed as an integral part of the wiring that makes up giftedness.
The book is broken up into three sections. Part one deals with what it means to be gifted. If you have a gifted child, or have read any other gifted books, you likely know most of this. You’ll nod your head as you read, but wonder where the hell the help is. Dude, it’s coming. The book needs this refresher; not everyone coming to it has as strong as background in giftedness as others. It’s a strong section, and allows the reader to see giftedness and intensity in three different characters.
The second section is all “super, but what do I dooooo???” (Actually, it’s titled something very similar). And, yes, here we start to get into the nitty gritty of WHAT THE HOLY HELL DO I DO WITH MY EMOTIONALLY INTENSE GIFTED CHILD? What, you don’t think that on a hourly daily basis? Just me? Wow. Who knew? Anyhoo, this is where I started underlining passages and folding down corners. No stained pages yet, but that’s because I was reading in the middle of the afternoon and there was no wine around. This section deals with the groundwork that can and must be created during calm times. Oh, do I do this? Uh…no. Mainly because I like to pretend during the calm times that all is well. I also think unicorns poop glitter, but that’s a story for another day. Here I started seeing how we could create a framework on which to build coping strategies. This framework would then help us when all hell breaks loose. And yes, it will all break loose, no matter how desperately I wished I had a glitter-pooping unicorn instead. Within each chapter in this section are suggestions for teachers, but the most help for me, as a parent, are the worksheets and tip sheets. They are sprinkled throughout the chapters, and whoa Nellie, am I glad they are here. Little snippets to remind you of what to do or what to say to help you with your intense kid.
The third section was the best. Like homemade buttercream frosting on top of a decadent chocolate gluten-free cupcake, this was my favorite part. And…now I want a cupcake. But I digress. The third section was WHAT TO DO IN THE HEAT OF THE MOMENT. Dude, this is what I needed years ago. My only concern with this section is that it deals with school-aged kids, when I needed the help with much younger children. My best suggestion is to learn here and adapt as best you can to your particular situation. Get professional help if need be…but that’s my advice for any age. So why did I appreciate the third part so much? Two words: role playing. It teaches parents (and teachers) how to become the child’s coach, and guides them through a meltdown/inappropriate behavior or response. Several scenarios are presented with full dialogue. The confrontations are broken down, shown where things went wrong, and then reintroduced with dialogue that guides parent and child to a more effective conclusion. I wanted to take this section out to dinner, buy it a drink, and gush all over it about how big a fan I am. Words. Scenarios. Situations. Improvements. I can’t stress enough how big of a deal this is for me. I have always felt that I lacked the ability to guide A through various intense situations, and that if I could do that then he would have far fewer meltdowns. And that he could learn from them. This helps me help him. The suggestions in this section rely upon the framework built in the second section, so don’t skip over that work during the calm times. Jen, I’m talking to you here. You can have a decadent chocolate gluten-free cupcake if you do the work during the calm times. Good? Good.
All in all, I big puffy heart loved this book. I would have loved it if I had found it browsing the local bookstore, desperately trying to find The Answers. I want to get this book for anyone who has a relationship with an intense gifted kid; this includes teachers, grandparents, and the random person on the street who has seen my kid lose his shit in public. Gifted kids are wired so differently that it’s difficult to explain to people who don’t have one. They are hard to raise. Advanced Parenting, prerequisite not available. Christine recognized that and wrote this fantastic book on how we can guide our kids to helping themselves. I plan to read it again, then hand it to Tom to memorize (please God, let him see some techniques to help talk himself down off the ledge), and then maybe tattoo the entire contents into my eyelids. This is what I’ve been looking for since A was four and I wasn’t sure I was going to let him live to see five. If you have or teach or know a gifted child, “Emotional Intensity” needs to be on your shelf.
Don’t forget, all comments (including ones on this post) from Christine’s blog tour will be entered into a big honkin’ drawing for a signed book and some cool gifted swag.
And to all those who worry about these sorts of things, I received an Advance Reading Copy of “Emotional Intensity” to prepare for this review. Again, I would have purchased a copy regardless, as I have known of the coming of this book for several months. Doing the blog tour was awesome, and getting the book was just the buttercream icing on the decadent chocolate gluten-free cupcake. Mmmm…cupcake…