Sunday, January 10, 2010

Super Sunday Series - Cycles

Welcome, Super Sunday Series readers!  If you are new, the Super Sunday Series is where I talk about all "things gifted."  Or if the topic's not an officially "gifted topic," I relate that week's subject to raising your gifted child.  See my introductory post on the Super Sunday Series if you want more background.

This week?  Cycles.

I've had a hard time writing this post all week.  I couldn't find much (ok, any) research on it and you know how I love to rely on research for my Super Sunday Series

The only connection I found was in the book Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnosis of Gifted Children.  The discussion related to how mood cyles in gifted children can be mistaken for Bi-Polar Disorder.  Yikes - wouldn't that be a horrible, horrible misdiagnosis to make?

Cylcles happen with Oldest seasonally.  She will start a downward spiral, often unable to pull herself out of it until she gets in some kind of major trouble.  In some ways, I think this is just an extension of transitions, and maybe it's the long term result of a major transition.  Because it occurs so far away from the original transition, however, it doesn't feel connected.

The downward spiral manifests itself by worsening and worsening behavior, with eventually a day so bad, where she's so rude, so extreme, that I feel like my only choices are to send her to the circus or do something drastic at home. 

She's cycling down right now, as a matter of fact.  I wrote about it Monday.  Hints I have that she's on the downward trend are extreme overreations (like accusing Youngest of name calling her when she calls her by her nickname), inability to control herself (like throwing a cup at me in the car Monday) or being over the top silly (to the point where you can't even communicate with her - like I start talking and she starts quacking or something.  I GET that she's sending the message that she doesn't want to hear what I have to say, but really, sometimes that's what life's about - having to listen when you don't want to).

Interestingly, when she's on an upcycle, she's completely unstoppable.  Completely.  In a good way.  Oh!  Wow - epiphany #1 - it's the same as when she's on a downcycle - just as unstoppable.  It's just so much more painful. 

So what happens when she reaches a day of such atrocious behavior that my only alternative is to ban major privileges?  That usually turns her around.  And the discipline is usually the triple strike - no computer, tv or dessert for a week.  That's where she lives - taking those away, especially together, have a major impact. 

When does she cycle?  As I said above, seasonally:
  1. Fall - about 6 weeks after school starts
  2. Winter - in the month of January - after Christmas vacation
  3. Spring - usually May - during the last two weeks of school
  4. Summer - mid-August - about two weeks before school starts
And as I wrote these notes Friday night - it hit me right in the face.  Epiphany #2.  School's the connection.  Her cycling into poor behavior is connected to her anxiety over school starting or ending.  Looking at it now, in print, it seems so obvious, and it makes me feel completely obtuse to not have noticed the connection before this post.

How sad for her that school creates that much anxiety and stress for her.  How sad for her that we haven't given her the tools yet to stop it before it wreaks havoc on her existence. 

I would love to know if other people have this issue with their gifteds.  If so, what do you do?  I'm so sad for her right now because she is really struggling.  At the same time, however, I can't abide the poor attitude, barely controlled anger and the extreme reactions to things.  We are a family and I have a home to run, the world can't revolve around her emotions, right? 

I planned this post to hit at a time when I thought a cycle might be occurring so I could accurately reflect my feelings.  And I've got one.  And how does it make me feel as a parent?  Awful, like I can't parent her right.  Like I am failing her.  This week has been one of those weeks where I wonder (overwhelming evidence notwithstanding) if she can even be gifted because her emotions are so out of whack.   

Sometimes these Super Sunday posts are painful for me.  It hurts to dredge up emotions you feel toward your child, whom you love unconditionally.  But today's, while saddening, is also hopeful.  Through the writing itself, I discovered something new about her and that's powerful for me.  It means I can help her find the right path now.  Thank goodness. 

What will you see the rest of the month on the Super Sunday SeriesFriendship.  That, dear readers, seems to be at the heart of her current struggles.  I think I have three week's worth of material about it.  If not, we'll adjust, don't worry!  I'm flexible that way (sometimes).

Much love.
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