Gifted and twice exceptional people often experience emotional overexcitability. Plugging into the world in an organic way, they see, feel, and understand their surroundings on a deeper level. This super power sometimes causes great pleasure and at other times, great pain. Research shows that our children can tap into the feelings of the adults around them. They not only notice how their adults are feeling but they actually feel those emotions themselves. During this turbulent time, we must make room for our children’s feelings and role model self-care as we monitor our own emotions.
How do we do this TODAY, election day 2020 – one of the most contentious elections in history, and during a pandemic? I know it sounds corny, but first…BREATHE. Stop. Take a breath. Right now. Try to slow down your pace if only for a moment. Checking in with your children (or students) is way more effective if you can settle the snow in your own snow globe first.
Be open. Ask open ended questions about how your gifted and 2e child/student is feeling. What are they thinking? What are they wondering? How do they feel about the process? What would they change if they could? Ask how they think they will handle the outcome today.
Plan for the future. Talk to your children/students about what they think is going well in the world. Ask them in what ways they wish things could change. Ask them if they could make change, what they would change and how. Starting to think about things you can do to make the world a better place helps to alleviate the fear and anxiety about the unknown.
Find gratitude. Share what you know is good in the world. I know for many it’s hard right now to think about positives or to be optimistic. But there is always something to be grateful for. Find those things, no matter how simple or complex – perhaps you are thankful for food, toilet paper, health, the ability to vote, the efforts people are making every day (yourself included). Showing your children/students that you can find these things, helps them to keep their glass half full.
Some great resources to help guide you as you interact with your kids today include, “How to Talk to Kids About Election 2020 and the Ugly Side of Politics” and a great activity sponsored by the Kennedy Center – “Democracy Doodle” are good places to start.
Above all, hold on to what matters to you. What are the issues and why do they matter? Give your children an opportunity to talk about their priorities and ask them questions about leadership and how they think it should go. Being there with your children/students and allowing them to talk freely about their thoughts strengthens relationships and helps encourage critical thinking.