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Tips for Parents: The Gifted Journey of Post-Traumatic Growth: Building Resilience Amidst Trials, Tribulations & Trauma

Highlights from Expert Series

The following article shares highlights and insights from one of our Expert Series events, which are exclusive for Young Scholars and their parents.


In life, bad things happen — this is a truth of life.  When adversity and trauma occur, some feel victimized, some survive and others thrive.  The complexity that accompanies giftedness impacts Post-Traumatic Growth (PTG), which occurs in those that thrive . . . it’s vital to realize that PTG resilience skills can be fostered to support ongoing healing.  Growth can and does occur amidst struggle and tragedy, and as parents, we can foster this growth in our PG children and teens.

In this journey called Life, it becomes vital to attend to the various aspects of giftedness that can create tension for our cherubs such as existential angst and depression, intensity and sensitivity, depth and complexity, fixed vs. growth mindset, and perfectionism.  How these aspects manifest can influence the rigidity and inflexibility of one’s thinking and emotional adaptability . . . however, creating space and engaging in dialogue around perennial questions of Life allows our cherubs to build and strengthen the resilience muscle that increases one’s capacity to navigate Life’s storms and look for the lessons to be gained amidst times of both blessing and burden.

Tips

  • Our brain is one of the most valuable tools in shifting thought & perspective, especially regarding trials, tribulations & trauma . . . cognitive restructuring helps shift perspective, while at the same time acknowledging the painful reality of the situation as noted in The Stockdale Paradox
    • Life has both blessings and burdens
    • Struggles are invitations/gifts to learn from
    • Kintsugi is a creative manifestation of “the art of precious scars”
    • Out of suffering can come great good – this is the core of the research of Post-Traumatic Growth & visible in 5 areas . . .
      • Increased appreciation for life in general
      • Changed priorities
      • More meaningful interpersonal relationships
      • Increased sense of personal strength
      • Richer existential and spiritual life
  • Rules for Being Human – a most wonderful poem with much wisdom that supports a growth mindset
    • Rule 1: You will receive a body.
      You may like it or hate it, but it will be yours for the entire period this time around.
    • Rule 2: You will learn lessons.
    • You are enrolled in a full-time informal school called life. Each day in this school you will have the opportunity to learn lessons. You may like the lessons or think them irrelevant or stupid.
    • Rule 3: There are no mistakes, only lessons.
    • Growth is a process of trial and error: experimentation. The “failed” experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiment that ultimately “works.”
    • Rule 4: A lesson is repeated until learned.
    • A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you have learned it, you can then go on to the next lesson.
    • Rule 5: Learning lessons does not end.
      There is no part of Life that does not contain its lessons. If you are alive, there are lessons to be learned.
    • Rule 6: “There” is no better than “here”
      When your “there” has become a “here,” you will simply obtain another “there” that will again look better than “here.”
    • Rule 7: Others are merely mirrors of you.
      You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects something you love or hate about yourself.
    • Rule 8: What you make of your life is up to you.
      You have the tools and resources you need. What you do with them is up to you. The choice is yours.
    • Rule 9: Your answers lie inside you.
      The answers to life’s questions lie inside you. All you need to do is look, listen and trust.
    • Rule 10: You will forget all this.
    • Rule 11: You can remember whenever you want.~adapted from IF LIFE IS A GAME, THESE ARE THE RULES: TEN RULES FOR BEING HUMAN by Chérie Carter-Scott~
  • Quick ways to bring the brain back online once it has been emotionally flooded/derailed
    • Massive doses of Vitamin C (2000-3000 mg)
    • Omega 3 Fatty Acids can reduce suicidal ideation
    • Ginseng helps build the immune system
    • Increase endorphins
      • Exercise
      • Chocolate
      • Laughter
    • 4-7-8 Breathing (Andrew Weil, MD)
    • Bilateral Stimulation (primary process of EMDR)
      • Slinky
      • Metronome
      • Tossing a ball
    • Talk at eye level/Speak softly and gently in a warm voice
    • Offer a stress ball or fidget toy
    • Offer a piece of gum, candy or lollipop (chewing and sucking are calming)

Resources

Authored by: Christine Turo-Shields
Bio: Christine Turo-Shields, LCSW, LCAC EMDR therapist has a personal and professional passion of working in the world of the gifted. . . raising two 2e children (one gifted and one profoundly gifted child). With over 35 years of clinical practice, she has worked with hundreds of gifted children, teen, and adults. She knows the blessings and burdens of the minds of our brightest! Many gifted individuals struggle with emotional anxieties and angst, relationships and identity roles, perfectionism and academic achievement as well as personal fulfillment and enjoyment. They often struggle with special needs/twice-exceptionalities as well. She currently facilitates a group for gifted women who navigate their own personal gifted journey. As an expert in the GT/HA world, she consults with school districts on case consultations regarding gifted students as well as conducts and coordinates trainings and presentations for educators and parents. She coaches gifted parents, introducing them resources which will aid in navigating their children’s world emotionally, socially and behaviorally.

Christine has been an integral part of developing the Gifted Family Program for Central Indiana Mensa – a program so successful that it won the American Mensa Gifted Children Program Award for 2010. Her article, “The Rocket Science of Raising Gifted Kids” has been published in the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) newsletter, and she has been a presenter at the NAGC and SENG national conferences, most notably on anxiety and trauma healing among gifted individuals. She has also served as a co-facilitator of SENG 2e online parent groups. She serves as consultant to various school districts in Indiana and has been a presenter with the Davidson Institute as well as a member of the Behavior Team with PGR (Profoundly Gifted Retreat).

Permission Statement

This article is provided as a service of the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to supporting profoundly gifted young people 18 and under. To learn more about the Davidson Institute’s programs, please visit www.DavidsonGifted.org.

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