Dealing with the Difficulties of Giftedness One Day at a Time

Summary:  We learned that our daughter was 2e when she was very young. Along the way we found ways to deal with some of the typical issues associated with giftedness. Along with sensory processing disorder and ADHD, our daughter struggled with anxiety. That was the biggest hurdle that she faced. Here's our story of what worked and helped her along the way. #gifted #anxiety #2e

We started homeschooling our gifted 2e daughter when she was three. Along the way she encountered some of the typical issues associated with giftedness: including sleep issues, intensities , sensory issues, and anxiety, etc. We tried a variety of strategies to help her.

This article includes a discussion of the things that we found to be most successful and helpful to us. As many of you know, my "kiddo" is now a college grad. Today, I am looking back to the earlier years, when the difficulties of giftedness were more apparent.

One of the biggest issue for our daughter was anxiety. And being 2e, with sensory processing issues and ADHD, those things also contributed to her anxiety.

But before we could work on that, we needed to get us all sleeping.

Let's start with the number one issue that came up in our house, during the toddler, preschool and elementary years....that of helping our daughter get to sleep.


My kiddo took hours to get to sleep as a little one.  Learning to settle her excited intense mind was  a challenges for sure.  Our bedtime routine helped some, with bath and story-time, but each night she often took more than two hours to settle down and get to sleep. Things gradually got better, and we tried a number of approaches to try to help.  Around 6th grade, getting to sleep was much less of an issue.

Things we did that helped:

Bedtime Routine 

Following a similar bedtime routine, with a fairly well set bedtime, helped.  We set things with lots of books and favorite quiet activities, so that she could play on her own, in her room.

As a preschooler, she learned to stay in her room at bedtime, after her storytime, and usually played herself to sleep.  This gave us some time to relax from the hectic day, while we were in the next room, available to her if needed.  Gradually things improved.

Breathing exercises and Relaxation Tapes 

Breathing exercises, kid oriented relaxation tapes, or favorite music cd's also helped some.  We taught our young one how to breath from the diaphragm, but making it a game and doing it together, laying on the floor. We each put a toy on our stomachs and practiced making the toy go up, and then back down, using the diaphragm.

Also, learning to accept that this was our normal.  It just took more time for our daughter to get to sleep for many years.

Now, let's talk intensities.


Having lots of intense feelings and needing tons of attention, along with lots of questions to be answered, led to a very worn out mama, especially when my daughter was young.  We both needed naps, lol!

Things that we did that helped:


Learning at home helped a lot with, as our daughter could delve deeply into things intensely or be quite active, as she was at home, instead of being in a classroom setting.  Having lots of books, crafts, supplies around, available for her use, was also a help.

When she was a preschooler, we went through tons of cardboard and tape.  Practically everyday. that was such a joy, to see her creations!

My daughter's art project, after going to a fair.
Having a Routine or Daily Schedule 

Structuring her time as a little one, with a predictable schedule, helped her to learn to manage her intensities.

Things were predictable, and that helped a lot. Our daughter could anticipate what was going to happen next.  Knowing what was coming next helped a lot with our child's anxiety.

We also used quiet breaks, such as a quiet reading time, or a favorite video from the library, when she needed to settle things.

Afternoon Naps or Room Play 

Having naps in the afternoon were essential.  I needed that rest time for me in the afternoons.  When my daughter no longer needed a nap, we  switched to a quiet play time in bedroom.  That helped her settle out, and gave me the important time to put my feet up and de-stress.  And an adjusted mama was essential to my daughter's functioning, too!

Taking Quiet Breaks When Things Got Intense or Anxious

Sometimes during our homeschool day, we used some calming down techniques, especially when she was little.  Quiet time with the cat, watching favorite videos from the library, listening to audio tapes, all of these things helped.

Using Blankets  

Blankets are great for deep pressure, to help calm the nerves. Have you ever heard of "making a burrito" with a blanket?  This can really help a child who is overloaded, overstimulated, or very anxious.

Making a "burrito"  

Place a blanket on couch, and spread it out.  Then ask your child to sit on it, and help them to wrap each side of the blanket across their lap, in effect, making a burrito, with your child all snuggled into it.  This was a favorite way for my preschooler to help calm herself.  We just used a regular blanket for this, not with a weighted blanket and it was not tight.  We only did this for short periods, like a few minutes, when my child felt like it.  Sometimes she even liked being rolled up gentle into a blanket.  Awe, the comfort of blankets.


Long baths - As a young one, we had lot of toys for play in the tub, with things to play with and stick on the wall, etc.  This kept her in the bath longer and she calmed so nicely to the warm water.  And had tons of fun!

Baths were not just for the kiddos in our house. I often tried to find time in the evenings for a long bath for me, as my hubby took over the bed time routine most evenings.  I needed my calming time, too!

Intensities also meant that we got to share in our daughter's intense joy, feelings, passions all along the way.  Much joy was had by all of us!

Watching our daughter's love of learning blossom, in Cat School.
Another concern that came up for our daughter was her sensory issues.


Sensory issues are quite common among gifted kids.  

My daughter was a sensory seeker, always wanting vestibular input, spinning, running, twirling, jumping, doing headstands off the couch, etc.  

I have an O.T. background (Occupational Therapy) so I was comfortable finding the sensory activities that she needed to do.  And our couches have lasted all of the hand springs and tumbling!

Our kiddo needed lots of vestibular and deep pressure input. She also reacted to any tags on clothing or any restrictive clothing. Tactile defensive, too.  Also loud noises bothered her.  Sometimes just achknowledging the issue helped.  Oh, that was a siren.  I know your don't like noises like that.

Things that we did that helped:


Well, she was a natural gymnastics kid!

So we used Parks dept toddler play, tumbling classes, and these were very helpful.  Preschool gymnastics led to more, through the years.  Having these gymnastics skills meant that she could use them to take active breaks whenever she needed to, to calm or just to by physical, such as tumbling on the living room rug.

She would do cartwheels in the living room and I encouraged that, and headstands, etc. We also made a simple gymnastics floor in her bedroom.  Gymnastics became a favorite activity all the way through high school and that led to good self esteem.

I loved watching her gymnastics meets and seeing her on the balance beam, doing her routines.
But paid classes are not necessary, that is just what we chose to do.  Any traditional playgroup, with swings and merry-go-rounds to push can work very well, too.  Some families look for a pediatric O.T.and use them for sensory integration therapy.

Things we did that helped 

We bought a simple plastic spinner, which my young one could sit on, and spin around in,
Later a desk chair to spin in was a hit.
Small inside trampoline for winter.
Big exercise ball to bounce on across the room
Outside - swing, big trampoline.

Out to the park a lot, especially for the swings.  Lots of that.

Clothing Issues 

Avoiding jeans and instead using sweatpants, sweatshirts, tee shirts, comfortable clothing
Taking tags off.
By middle school, jeans became popular in our house, and the sweat pants not so much anymore. Oh, the fun of shopping for jeans for the first time, with my daughter!

Here's more on how we dealt with anxiety.


Our kiddo had some struggles with anxiety, and often wanted to know what was happening next, such as where we were going, on a ride, etc.

What we did that helped:

Predictable routine
Gave her as much control as possible, or choosing from two or three options when she was little
Playing, lots and lots of playing
Taught her self calming
Audio books
Breathing exercises
Built in down time, quiet reading
Reinforcing developing independence
Sometimes we limited access to tv news
Going to the park
Goofing off
Being silly
Being there for her

Using figets, small items to play with, were a great help when homeschooling, especially when verbal directions or explanations were given. As our daughter became more confident, her anxieties have lessened. a lot.

And lastly, let's talk about competition and perfectionism.


We let her win board games a lot as a young one!  Then we got her a lot of thinking, cognitive games like chess.  She was often distracted by the thinking process, that she forgot to focus on winning.
Still, I have so many good memories of my daughter and my hubby playing all sorts of games together.  We had a lot of fun with it!

We often used humor.  Competitiveness has become a positive thing in my daughter's college life. She has learned to balance it out with other things, like self care, and yet, to push herself towards her dreams.

As far as perfectionism...Well, I am a perfectionist, too, so we have worked together on this, through the years  When my kiddo was young, we had fun practicing making mistakes, and made it a game.
Making mistakes on purpose helped!  It lessened the power of goofing up.


Many of the concerns mentioned above were pretty well worked out by high school.  We honored our daughter's achievements and, at the same time, tried to help her to find a balance by following her own heart, building in self care, and giving her permission to make lots of mistakes.  And us, too.

 Isn't that what we all need?

I just had to add this last picture of her in college.

This post was shared here - Difficulties of Giftedness Blog Hop and here - Hoagies' Gifted Education Page Blog Hop - Mental Trenches - Thoughts from the Depths.

What are some of the issues that have come up at your house?  I would love it if you shared those or any comments that you may have, in the comments section below.

I also helped my gifted 2e daughter prepare for and get into each of the colleges on her list as an always homeschooled student.  My book - Homeschooling High School with College in Mind shares how we went about doing that, and all my best tips for college prep and homeschooling high school.

I have gathered together all my best tips for high school and college and put it into my new book, Homeschooling High School with College in Mind, 2nd Edition

It gives you everything that you need to plan your high school homeschool for your college bound teen.  Plus how to help them get into the college of their choice.

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 Included are also 12 homeschool high school planning printables to make your record-keeping easier.

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This book does not tell you how to homeschool high school.  Instead it gives you guidance for doing it your way!  

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For more information, click here - Frugal College Prep for Homeschoolers or to buy it here - my book on Amazon for only $11.99, Kindle is only $6.17. And don't worry about forgetting things!

Have you seen the facebook group that I administer on high school?  You are invited to join us there, to get answers to your questions, and join in our supportive community.

Thanks for stopping by BJ's Homeschool,

Betsy is mom to her now college grad, whom she homeschooled through high school.  She blogs at BJ's Homeschool, about the early yearshighschool
collegegifted/2e and wrote -Homeschooling High School with College in Mind, 2nd Edition,   She offers homeschool help through messages at BJ's Consulting and has had some of her articles picked up by the Huffington Post.

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