The Gifted Child and Sensory Overload- When is it Too Much?

I will admit I saw the articles pass by on how to handle the holidays with a gifted child and I didn’t read them. Hindsight is always 20/20 and I tend to learn the hard way. We had a very busy November and December with lots of fun and exciting experiences and it was just too much for Madison. On Thanksgiving our elves came back. We don’t have just one, but two. I am always focused on the ‘magic of everything’ and making sure we get the ‘most out of everyday’. But life is a learning process and I have learned that making the most out of magic and everyday have different meanings.

Madison woke up before 6am everyday to find her elves for a month straight. She was on a kid ‘high’ for the holidays with all the never ending activities and excitement. We started homeschooling again this week and I noticed she was not focused and yawned a lot. She wasn’t engaged or trying at at all. She had fought me on doing anything school related for the past month. It was a nightmare. It got to the point where I became so frustrated I told her this wasn’t working and I was going to enroll her back into public school. She was exhibiting the same behavior as she did when she was in public school and became disengaged and therefore she wasn’t learning. She immediately became upset and stated she couldn’t go back and apologized 100 times and needed reassurance that I would continue to homeschool her.

And then it hit me.

I made the mistake that most people do, but with my own child. I assumed her lack of focus and effort was because she was being lazy. The child that loves to excel and learn all the time. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what went wrong. So I sat and thought about it and analyzed the situation for a really long time.

It hit me like a ton of bricks. I overdid it. The magic. The making the most out of everyday. All the stimulation and lack of sleep had my daughter run ragged. It is fun and she loves it, but she’s 7 and can only take so much. I noticed she had stopped reading on her own as well. There were so many signs I that I missed and misread. I thought providing every experience was broadening her horizons and offering her the hands on learning experiences she needed.

This morning I had a trip planned to go to the art museum to do a scavenger hunt. I took it off the schedule. I told Madison when she woke up in the morning to read, play and we were going to just hang out at home and relax for the weekend. She was disappointed the art museum trip was canceled, but obliged. She spent the day hanging out at home reading and playing. We enjoyed just being together as a family. She read two Geronimo Stilton books and was SO happy. She had the opportunity to relax and just be. And it’s what she needed. Freedom from scheduled activities was the best thing I could do for her. She never once said she was bored. Her happiness today was genuine as compared to the ‘high’ of happiness from the past two months.

Tonight when we put her to bed she said she loved the weekends because she could wake up in the morning and read. I know next week she will be focused on learning and will not be on ‘overdrive’ from constant stimulation of activities. I have learned that the ‘magic’ and ‘making the most of everyday’ is not about how many activities that are planned and trying to take advantage of every learning opportunity. It is about balance. Becoming addicted to being busy can happen and did happen to us. Being constantly on the go doesn’t make for good parenting in our household. It isn’t healthy or genuine for Madison. Relaxing and enjoying reading and hanging out at home with family is just as important as activities and we all need both. Especially Madison. Everything in moderation. That is our new motto for 2015. Life is a constant learning experience for me as a parent who wants to provide the best for my gifted daughter.

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