Overexcitabilities, Spirited Children, and the Concept of “More.”

If you’ve spent any time researching giftedness, you’ve probably come across Dabrowski’s overexcitabilities. My understanding is that not all gifted kids have them, but most have at least one.

From early on, I have described little bit as “more.” He’s simply more of everything. More compassion, more kisses, more hugs, more speech, more thought. And more talking, more questions, more tantrums, more emotions, more energy. The only thing he seems to be “less” on is sleep! I have had more people than I care to admit suggest little bit has ADHD. In fact, a family member discussed it as though it were simply a fact that we must already know. And comments have been made about it on facebook posts. How that’s just the “ADHD running in the family.”

I know they mean nothing negative by it. I do know they mean well. But they aren’t psychologists. They don’t have any type of education or degree that would lead me to believe they can diagnose a child based on their experiences with him over one weekend a year. But I digress.

If you have a child that is simply “more” of everything, chances are you’ve also come across Raising Your Spirited Child. Add spirited with a psychomotor overexcitability, and you may very well find it difficult to keep up with the “more” in your life.

That’s where we are. I have now had three, yes three, psychologists tell me little bit does not have ADHD. He has anxiety, which can manifest in so many different ways within a six-year-old child, but ADHD is not something that gets added to his “more” list. I’m constantly forced to reiterate that fact and quite frankly, I get tired of it. People are so quick to jump to conclusions. But again, I digress.

So here’s a little description of little bit:

  • He’s intense, persistent, sensitive, and perceptive
  • His level of energy is beyond what’s typical for even a boy. He can function on less that 7 hours of sleep (we avoid this at all costs, but there are nights when he simply can’t/won’t go to sleep. He’s too busy).
  • He does not manage change well. While he resists routine, changes and transitions can be a recipe for disaster.
  • He jumps head first into things. Not literally. I mean, he doesn’t know a stranger and new places, even though they’re change, don’t have him hiding behind your leg. He just maybe doesn’t “listen” very well in those moments.
  • He’s deeply curious, loves learning about things he doesn’t already know, hates learning things he already knows, is a great problem solver, thinks abstractly and can concentrate when he wants to.
  • He’s funny and likes funny things. He smiles and laughs most of the time.
  • He is extreme in his emotions. He has anxiety to changes in his environment and feeling loss of control. He recognizes differences in himself and others and hides part of himself to “fit” in. He has suffered minor panic attacks and needs reassurance.
  • He talks constantly, is impulsive, loves competition (but not sports), is always moving and has trouble sleeping.
  • He is hard to resist. He’s charismatic and most people who get the opportunity to know him fall in love with him. He has such a caring heart and such an energetic energy that you want to smile when you’re around him. Unless he’s having a meltdown or being overly persistent or any number of the things listed above, this kid will melt your heart and bring you so much joy and laughter.

Most of those things seem negative. But they’re not. Little bit is complex, and his complexity brings about challenges, joys, and cherishable moments. The real trick is in learning how to help him manage some of the overexcitable tendencies and spirited traits. Many of them will serve him well as he enters into adulthood, but our job as parents is to teach him and guide him in learning the best ways to harness these traits and build them into greatness. I’m sure that sounds silly.

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