Traversing the Straits of Adolescence: A Guide for Parents of Profoundly Gifted Teens (page 2)

By — Davidson Institute for Talent Development
Updated on Jul 26, 2007

On Emotions and Passions

With PG teens, the emotional pool runs deep. So much so, these teens become very wary of other people's impressions--almost to the point of developing an intuitive (or spiritual) sixth (or seventh!) sense. They can "read" a room and know, just by observing body language and facial expressions for a split second, what the setting is like and if there are other like-minded individuals present.

You might even remember yourselves doing this, but not being able to explain it to anyone else. If this was the case, you might begin having some conversations with your teen about your experiences. I would bet they are feeling very similar and unsure if they can even talk about these things with other people. Conversation here can really open some important discussions.

Passions develop when they are identified and nurtured. Therefore, parents and educators need to provide many, many opportunities to try new things. Adolescence is a natural risk-taking period of life (I know, some of you are now clenching your teeth!). But, I propose something Jim Delisle (2003) calls risk-making. This is where teens (with the help of others) develop a plan of action to try things out in life (like volunteering in the local community; learning how to ice skate; starting a part-time job; or taking part in a foreign exchange program).

Risk-making is all about listing possibilities and laying out a feasibility chart. What things could I try; and, could afford to try? What things need more planning and time to develop? etc. By the way, parents should be involved in this process as well. So, if your son takes a "shine" to learning how to ice skate, you should try it as well. Nothing beats the joy of watching a parent fall on her/his rear in the eyes of a teen! Modeling your risk-making will build a connection between the two of you that will nurture additional conversations, plans (and probably a laugh or two).

This will also help fend off some of the risk-taking behavior associated with adolescence (you know, the stuff that makes you grit your teeth and grimace!). So, get out there, talk about possibilities with your family, and make some risks! Learn to skate; start a foreign language course; find a local charity to volunteer for; organize, collect and deliver donations of slightly used items to: battered women's shelters (clothes, toys, books), animal shelters (old rugs and bedding); spend time in the middle/junior high school volunteering (of course your teens will not want you in their classes, but you can do something, somewhere else).

It's a numbers game, so to speak. The more possibilities and opportunities you provide for your teen to get involved and try new things, the more the likelihood that a passion might uncover and develop.

It's great fun (even if your teen rolls her/his eyes and wonders if you've had a little too much Robitussin for that cough!); and, shows your teen life is meant to be lived. Who knows, you might ignite a passion or two for yourself!

On Helping Self, Helping Others

Activities beyond the academic (and intellectual) help provide multi-dimensions to PG kids. These activities also help teens appreciate the differences in their own abilities (great in one area, not worth a darn in another).

Life experiences are always important ways of showing how creative and imaginative thinking can guide interests/passions to higher levels; or, help relieve the stress associated with putting too much emphasis (or focus) on one endeavor.

PG teens need to find personal balance. A space and place for themselves to be satisfied with their choices; yet still able to have the wonder and excitement of a child encountering something for the first time—even if this is definitely not cool in school.

All risky behavior cannot be stopped. But if teens know they can approach parents with questions and concerns and count on listening rather than judging; questionable and/or dangerous activities can be limited.

PG teens want to contribute to community but are unsure what they can do; and, worry they might not be supported in their efforts. The sense of space and place that develops from volunteering, or otherwise contributing to community, helps the PG teen ground her/himself. A few examples were provided in the previous section. Take some time to work up a list of possibilities right now. Then, talk them over with the whole family and find something everyone can contribute some time and effort toward.

Indeed, this sense of balance is crucial to fending off peer pressure to take part in risky behaviors. These contributions can be as simple as cleaning an elderly neighbor's yard to the complexity of organizing a clothing drive for victims of the earthquake in Iran (including arranging shipment of the collected stuff overseas).

Achievement is much more a sense of self-satisfaction for helping another human being (well, animals count too!) for gifted individuals, than it is performance in a sport, or on academic tests or in coursework. When positive outcomes can be achieved without competition, PG teens win without feeling guilty for inflicting their intellect on others.

View Full Article
Add your own comment
DIY Worksheets
Make puzzles and printables that are educational, personal, and fun!
Matching Lists
Quickly create fun match-up worksheets using your own words.
Word Searches
Use your own word lists to create and print custom word searches.
Crossword Puzzles
Make custom crossword puzzles using your own words and clues.