Nurturing Our Spirited Children
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Social Connectedness and Functioning Within a Group

My daughter is 8.  She is a great kid.  I go back and forth between being extremely proud of her for her intelligence, creativity, insightfulness, persistence, ingenuity - to extreme exasperation because of her stubbornness, tunnel vision, persistence, moodiness, etc.  She is in 2nd grade and the whole group dynamic thing is our biggest problem.  She can't seem to get the social connectedness thing.  Her behavior is unappealing.  She is motivated only by her own inspiration.  There is no "need to please" for her.  She has not developed any relationships with any kids, well, she has but mostly in a negative way.  Boys are turned off by the emotional outbursts, the girls can't relate to her aggressiveness.  At her age, I think she is acutely aware of the fact that she "doesn't belong".  She doesn't relate to girl activities - Barbie, dress-up, etc.  Her interests are more traditional boy activities.  She has friends outside of school, all boys, they ride bikes together, play Gameboys, etc.  She relates to animals, thats always been true.

I'm looking for ideas for a club or group that would help her with the need to belong issue.  I keep thinking of her as an at-risk child, because of the negative peer reactions, the absence of a sense of belonging, etc.  Any ideas???

I really love the way you can look at the world through your daughter's eyes.....that's such a gift!

While I don't have specific suggestions re: groups or clubs, I *can* relate to your concerns.  There are definitely some things you can do at home that will work to stop the current direction of her life and rechannel it positively.

Have you read Howard Glasser's "Transforming the Difficult Child" yet?  It details his Nurtured Heart Approach that has been tremendously successful w/ spirited kids.  It will channel her intensity (which is the fuel that's affecting and driving all of her other traits & behaviors) in positive ways developing it as a strength.  It also works on an inner level so that kids build an inner compass ~ one that helps keep them directed and away from 'at-risk' situations.  He also has a website  Please don't be put off by the emphasis on's just the mis-diagnosis that most of his patients bring with them when they begin working with him.

Once you (and she) have a handle on her intensity, and it's become a positive motivator, *then* you'll be able to more accurately determine what other areas need attention.  Until then, the negativity inaccurately colors the other areas leading most parents on what feels like wild goose chases.

On a different note, many gifted kids (and most spirited kids are gifted) find the whole social interaction aspect of growing up very challenging.  The rules don't make alot of sense to them because emotionally and/or intellectually they're so far beyond that place.  The same-aged kids' behavior is perplexing because they seem focused on things that hold little to no interest for our kids.  My 5yo son finds very few other 5yos interesting to play with, much preferring older kids (which creates it's own challenges).  He's reading...they're learning the alphabet.  He's trying to organize games of tag...they're focused on sharing toys.  He's developing his finer negotiation skills...they're following the adult's direction w/o question.

In many ways, my son is chronologically 5, but emotionally & intellectually a pre-teen.  But, he can also behave like he's 2!  Asynchronous learning it's called - a very common trait in gifted children.

I would highly recommend learning more about the challenges inherent in raising gifted children.  Some things you'll be able to affect...others you won't.  There are some great websites out there - check our Online Resources page - that can get you started.

There's one more question I want to gently ask.  Is *she* feeling the absense of a sense of belonging or are the challenges she's facing triggering memories w/in your own childhood of similar feelings?

To tie it all up, I recently received a funny book called "Hey Baby, What's Your Sign?" all about astrological signs and children (we're expecting #2 in March).  I laughed so hard when I read the sections about how certain signs just don't ever have the "need to please" and others consistently do.  Made me wonder...just how much of our kids is influenced by when they were born, their temperament, and our influence!  Who knows, but is sure keeps life interesting!

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