February 21, 2010

The Dreamers and The Daydreamers - Raising "Intense" Children (Part Three)

For the dreamers, daydreamers and poets among our children, the world of the imagination is their area of intensity. A child with the overexcitability called the imaginational will be extremely creative, have a good sense of humor, a strong ability to visualize and love fantasy.

The challenge arises when what is happening in their imaginations pulls them away from what is going on externally. The story that they are writing in their minds is probably much more compelling than the parent asking something of them. These kids may be distractible and have trouble staying tuned in during class unless they are engaged and interested. They may meet the criteria for the inattentive type of attention deficit disorder. Finishing schoolwork or completing tasks can be a problem when children's own ideas send them off on tangents. Their imaginations can also lead them to visualize worst case scenarios, so that they may become anxious about things that are unlikely to happen. These are the kids who may interpret a headache as a brain tumor.

With young kids, it's important to make sure that they can distinguish reality from fantasy when they get to the age when their peers are doing so. To help them cope with schoolwork that might not be engaging their imagination, you can help them develop strategies that make it more interesting when possible. For example, one student made up a song to remember the capitals of the South American countries. Another asked her teacher if she could write a fictional story with her vocabulary words. For those who are artistically gifted, it's important to give them time to indulge their inspirations. Let them go to sleep five minutes later if they really "need" to write down an idea for a story. A digital voice recorder can be helpful for them to use to keep track of all their ideas. Empathize with the difficulty of having to put their imaginings aside to have a conversation about the day's schedule or memorize information that they find uninteresting. The more patient and empathic you can be (and perfection isn't the goal. We all have our limits!), the more understood your child will feel, and the more cooperative s/he will be in the long run.

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  1. As a parent of seven, I am realizing more and more that the key is understanding each of the kids and creating a style for them according to their specific needs. The only philosophy that works is a flexible one! Dr. Bashe is to be complimented for helping us all open our eyes to these important differences among our children, as well as helping us develop tailored approaches.

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