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Parental Self-Care by Sheryl Stroller [Spark 2(1), p. 6-7]

March 01, 2014 9:03 PM | Deleted user

Sheryl Stroller explains that great giftedness is accompanied by a great need for parental self-care. Sheryl provides engaging and inspiring customized coaching, workshops and presentations. She equips parents to effectively teach their children life-skills that enable them to choose wisely for themselves.  Sample topics covered include: cultivating emotional intelligence among children with overexcitabilities and/or areas of giftedness; getting and staying calm for effective communication; optimizing differences in parenting styles to accommodate children’s learning styles, temperaments and level of reactivity; and addressing life challenges such as technology use, staying on task and being organized for routines and homework, social interactions, and emotional regulation. Sheryl draws on her own parenting journey as well as her professional training and experience. To learn more about Sheryl and her local, state and national experience, she encourages you to visit her website and to contact her to explore how she can best serve your needs.

Ever wonder why your child often seems to make parenting harder for you than it is for other parents? Perhaps it is because your child is gifted. It’s not your imagination. It is harder. As it turns out, gifted children, while diverse, are often not only extreme in their gifts, they also tend to be extreme in how they process all of life. Many brain pathways are exceptionally quick, strong and complex, while others are slow, weak and simple, especially by comparison. It is no wonder that many sensitivities, triggers, emotions, and behaviors defy easy rewir­ing. The negative, short-fused reactions and behaviors make it all the harder for parents to focus on the child's unique perspective, and harder still to feel compassion and be clear-headed in the on-going moments of life.


And that is only a small part of what is required to be a parent to these children. The gifts do not exist in isolation. They affect the whole person, and how that person processes life, 24/7. They also affect the parents and other people around the gifted person, 24/7. Making sure a gifted child has ready access to the depth and breadth of stimulation that is well suited to him/her is a full time job in and of itself. Add to that the child’s extreme need for explicit training in areas he or she doesn’t want to deal with — because of not being as quick or facile in those areas as in the gifted arena(s) — and the enormity of the parent’s job comes into sharper focus. We begin to see that the responsibility of being the parent of a gifted child is extreme, even without considering any 2E/deficits in the child’s abilities or sensibilities, and even without accounting for the huge responsibility to society borne by these parents to make sure the child’s potential is actualized.


To complicate matters, parents of gifted are often gifted themselves, facing their own struggles with their respective gifts. Everything is intensified and heightened in such a family.


My hope is that by recog­nizing and understanding the multifaceted and pervasively impactful nature of being, living with and raising a gifted child, you, the parent, will come to accept that you are in the midst of an intense marathon. I hope that with this realization, you commit to giving yourself the sustenance – the self-care – required to get through this marathon well.


My goal is to ensure that you give yourself what you need to flourish as you nurture your gifted child to flourish. Your gifted child needs you to take care of you so you can go the distance on this marathon with him/her. You need and deserve to take care of you so you can enjoy your life beyond life as a parent of your gifted children.

Start by embracing the paradox that honoring “self” enables you to be there for others.


Self-nurturing enhances relationships with others:
- Being authentic in expressing your need for self-care to someone enhances the sense of connection with that person and the authenticity of that relationship.


Neglecting your own needs for the needs of your children makes it worse for them:
- Leads to parent's moodiness/short-tempered reactions and resentment.
- Relationships sour and decay.
- Decisions become compromised by the need to sneak in self-care.
- It models/teaches that you expect your children to put others' (peers) needs before their own.


By doing and giving less, you can do more and give more:
- Letting go leaves time and space for others (children, spouses, partners, others) to step forward, show up, and grow up.
- Accepting that you cannot be a part of every step in a process frees you.
- Taking time and energy for yourself models the same for your children to emulate.
- Optimizes your ability to refuel and function well.


Now that you are convinced, you can start your new life-style of on-going self-care and self-nurturance.  Ask yourself:
"What's draining me?"
- List.
- Put the list aside and continue...
"What makes me feel good - even great?"
- Do a comprehensive inventory.


Think through options for how to get those pieces of self-care met under various scenarios of time/energy. For example: I have a heightened sense of wonder at visual patterns and of touch. If I’m grumpy, and have virtually no time, I pick up a shell, hold it, look at its patterns, take a deep breath and transport myself to the ocean.

Use the template [Self Care Worksheet, below] to create your own self-care plan.
Check in with [your]self:
- Preferably early and often, at least once a day.
- "Have I had a little piece of each area today, even if I only intentionally savored it for 1 second?"


What are [your] priorities?
- List them. Read. Redo the list.
- Consider:
     - "Which priorities do I like attending to?"  Attend to those.
     - "Which priorities are things that drain me?"  Refer to list generated earlier.
     - Which of the ones that drain you are also ones that someone else could do without the world coming to an end? Hire, swap, or drop those.  This part of the process is especially hard given that, with gifted children, there are unique criteria to meet when hiring, swapping and dropping.  Be gentle with yourself and consider outside resources.


What is going to sustain [you] to continue these self-care habits?
- Celebrate tiny accomplishments.


How will I ensure that I have an ongoing supply of what I need?
- Keep practicing consistent self-care, find a good parent coach, and reach out to other parents running the parents-of-gifted marathon.

What internal and external resources can I draw upon that will benefit me, short-term and long?
- You know yourself well — trust yourself, reach out to CGCC and other outside resources for help, use what is available so as to not waste precious energy reinventing the wheel.

Remind yourself:
- “As abilities, sensibilities and behaviors go beyond expectations, so does the need for self-care.”
- “Be gentle with myself.”
- “By putting myself on my priority list, taking care of me benefits everyone."





Sheryl Stoller, PCI Certified Parent Coach®
SENG Certified, Parents-of-Gifted Group Facilitator
Stoller Parent Coaching
Beyond Expectations: A resource for parents when children’s abilities, sensibilities and behaviors go beyond Based in Oak Park IL
708-358-8289; 877-285-8289 

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