DaVinci Academy Blog

Welcome to the Da Vinci Academy Blog. Da Vinci Academy is an independent school in Elgin, IL serving gifted and talented students in grades Pre-K through 8. This blog is a gathering place for parents, students, teachers, administrators, professionals, and anyone intrigued by gifted education. Take a peek, and be sure to stay long enough to leave us a comment.

Why is my gifted child so anxious all the time?

"Why does the problem of world hunger make him so anxious? We have plenty to eat at home!"

"She's so smart, why can't she use her intellect to get past whatever's worrying her this week - be it spiders in the rest room or plane crashes?"

"He's so cautious, he won't do anything if he isn't sure he can do it perfectly or without injury. He's still not riding a two-wheeler and he's going on 8!"

Boy walkind down tunnel

 

Do any of these sound familiar to you? Is your gifted child anxious about things big and small? How much of this is normal, and when should *you* be the one worrying?

First, it might help to know and understand that for gifted children, worrying often comes in tandem with their high intellect, high sensitivities, and intense curiousity. Read more about characteristics of the gifted.

Perfectionism, which is worthy of its own lengthy discussion, often appears in gifted children. Perfectionism can cause them to feel as though their first efforts aren't adequate, or demonstrate some fears about initiating an activity or task that they aren't certain they can do flawlessly. Perfectionism can often contribute to anxiety in a bright child. Linda Silverman discusses many aspects of perfectionism on the Gifted Homeschooler's Forum.

The reality for most gifted children is that their advanced intellectual development means they are much more likely to experience moments of stress when the world doesn't match up to their high expectations. For some children it may be that they have developed an extremely detailed understanding of rules and fairness in play and become overly rigid with other children about rules. Others may become preoccupied with world affairs and express concerns about issues such as poverty, war, access to clean water, or saving the rainforests.

One difficulty children can face is that their rigidity about rules or right/wrong stands in opposition to our fast-paced information-saturated world. Kids today need to be able to adapt, and rigidity hinders or even prevents adaptability. Being immersed in a variety of social situations or attempting to develop friendships can present quite a challenge to children who possess this characteristic.

While these concerns may cause a gifted child some anxiety, remember, too, that their heightened awareness of right and wrong and sense of justice may lead them to a path of high moral development. A gifted child's tenacity in pursuing subjects of interest may lead them to develop expertise in certain fields even before they complete their educations.

Today's child concerned about world hunger may be tomorrow's UN representative. Today's child collecting penny donations for the local animal shelter may be tomorrow's veterinarian or animal rights activist. Being strict about right and wrong, being very black and white may feel challenging when parenting a bright child, but when you think about the underlying reasons for these behaviors, it's a sign of good personhood. The bright child who has a strong moral compass and is bothered by unfairness in the world--whether it's on a global scale or on the playground--is getting the whole point of being a person, a global citizen.

But when is it time for parents to worry? When are a child's anxieties, fears, worries something more than typical? According to Ann Weller, Psy.D. with Plum Tree Child and Adolescent Psychology in St. Charles, IL,  it's when a behavior or thought pattern interferes with a person's functioning either at home or school that the behavior becomes a problem. "When anxiety significantly interferes with your ability to do your job--make friends, get your homework done--then it is time to seek help."

The American Psychological Association has both a wealth of resources and a Psychologist finder that may help.

Dr. Weller goes on to point out that many fears of a gifted child come from something known as Base Rate Fallacy. This is when we overestimate the probability of danger in an environment. This affects anxious people across the board, but can be particularly true of gifted children. They know so much about what could happen but don't have enough experience in life to provide the balance of what probably will happen.

As for how anxiety manifests, Dr. Weller points out, "It's important to understand, too, that anxiety is in the body. You can't be talked out of being anxious every time. There are physical signs of anxiety. Even though you might think a bright child should be able to think their way out of being anxious, for some they may require treatment from a licensed psychologist, who will focus on physiological treatment."

It may be comforting to know that parents around the world struggle with figuring out the right path for their bright children. What about you? Have you found any strategies that have helped alleviate your gifted child's worries and anxieties?

 

Interested in learning more?

http://www.davidsongifted.org/db/Articles_id_10086.aspx

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-ocd-monster/201106/mislabeling-in-the-classroom-distinguish-the-differences-adhd-anxiety-an

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intellectual_giftedness

http://www.davidsongifted.org/db/Articles_id_10265.aspx

 

We love hearing from parents and advocates for gifted children! Please comment if you have an idea for a topic you'd like us to cover in future blogs.

Posted at 2:14 PM

Want to keep your child engaged during the summer? Discover chess!

The tow-headed boy cupped his chin in his hand as he stared at the chess board. His white pawns were lined up diagonally, holding black's pawns at bay. But danger lurked on the chess board. Black's bishop was poised at the edge of the board, just waiting for an opportunity to pounce. White's king was protected by a pawn at the moment, but one move back by the bishop would put white's knight in peril, weakening his defenses. What's a 7 year-old boy to do?

Blond Boy Diagonal Pieces _small

If you're an incoming second grader attending Grandmaster Nikola Mitkov's summer chess camp at Da Vinci Academy, you try some of the strategies you've been working on in camp. A defensive stance, perhaps. Or maybe it's time to attack.

World Chess Federation-ranked Grandmaster Nikola Mitkov has taught chess at Da Vinci Academy in Elgin, IL for many years. In the summer he offers a one week chess camp for students of all playing levels in grades K-8. Students play chess, chess-related games like Bughouse and Blitz, as well as outdoor play, sharing a snack, and other typical fun summer fare. 

For students in all grades and at all ability levels, chess can be an excellent game to learn about strategy and planning. Chess teaches the lesson of how short-term decisions, (like moving your pawn now,) can impact you in the long-run, (now your pawn isn't there to protect your knight.) It's a great opportunity to explore consequences in relatively low-stakes and low-risk ways.

Think about dusting off your chess board this summer and teaching your kids the basics. Let them explore and discover, you never know -- you might have a future grandmaster on your hands!

Some additional resources you might like to check out:

http://www.chessteachers.org/schoolpages/index.htm

http://www.chesskids.com/ckbook/kidsindex.htm

 

Da Vinci Chess Camp 2012 ran from June 4 - 8. There are other summer camps taking place at Da Vinci this summer with spaces still available for all weeks. Come join the fun!

 

Interested in considering Da Vinci Academy for your PK-8th grade student? Contact us to schedule a tour or learn more about our admissions process.

Posted at 10:40 PM