Anxiety

Image Jo Freitag

Image Jo Freitag

I often find that after I have given a presentation, even if it was successful and well received at the time, I tend to go over the presentation in my mind and think of all the things I should or should not have said. I agonise over the smallest of mistakes or the possible implications of omissions.

I know that it was not my intention to offend or fail to mention something important or to give a wrong impression. But other people could not be expected to know that and would assume that I had done it purposely (with malice aforethought as Intellectual Dabrowski would say).
And so the perceived magnitude of the errors becomes completely out of proportion, making me feel anxious about possible consequences.

So I was not completely surprised to find that Sprite and Retweet were suffering a bout of anxiety after giving their presentation recently. They had realised that they failed to acknowledge the importance of the influence of the Psych Owl Ogist.
It was not even as if the Psych Owl Ogist had been offended.
He had sent a very warm note of congratulations on the success of their presentation.

But the magnitude of the omission had hit them like a physical blow and the Dabrowski Dogs and the Black Dogs gathered round to analyse the situation.

The Perfectionist Poodle, Intellectual Dabrowski and Wistful Black Dog were horrified by the omission of credit for the Psych Owl Ogist and Guard on Duty Black Dog added that there could have been severe repercussions if the Psych Owl Ogist had felt offended and got his feathers ruffled.

Imaginational Dabrowski was trying to think of a way to remedy the omission and publicise the revision without completely devaluing what had really been an excellent presentation.

Wistful Black Dog was in favour of placing the blame on Sprite’s learning difficulties and telling Sprite to Plead the Pink Slipper.
But Sensual Dabrowski did not feel comfortable with doing that; as Sprite had managed to create and present the PowerPoint with poise and confidence (as was obvious in her ability to wear both of her new blue boots for the occasion).
She was certainly not feeling so capable, confident and self assured now!

Psycho Motor Dabrowski was suggesting they should all go outside and bounce as a distraction but SAD Seasonally Affected Black Dog was saying that the sky was grey and it had been raining, making the path slippery. Sprite said she was not feeling up to negotiating any slippery slopes.

To make the mood of the room bleaker Little Bully Black Dog had brought in the newspaper. The Black Hat Thinking Consultant Team, The Pair O’Noids, were discussing news items about the effects of climate change, broken promises from politicians, injustice to the indigenous peoples, and lack of compassion towards refugees, the elderly, the sick and the disadvantaged.  The Pair O’Noids were hinting at conspiracies and a socially engineered return to a feudal system which benefited the rich at the expense of the poor.

Sprite feels unfairness and suffering of others acutely and would like to be able to change all these things.
But, as a child, she does not even know where to begin as the problems seem to be so many and so profound.
In the past she has studied George Orwell’s Animal Farm. And she has set up her toys and friends to stage marches. She has tried to work out how the voting system operates and how it could be improved.

As Leaping Attack Black Dog was threatening to assault Sprite Psycho Motor Dabrowski sprang into action. “Go off and bounce until you can sit down nicely on your HALT mat and behave!” he growled.
Emotional Dabrowski pressed her head against Sprite encouragingly and suggested that serving snacks to everyone might make things look brighter.
And Sprite also found it encouraging that Imaginational Dabrowski was still busy considering what she could do to repair the minor oversight in the presentation and
what other positive actions she could take to make the world a kinder, happier place.

This post is part of the Hoagies Gifted Blog Hop for April 2015. www.hoagiesgifted.org/blog_hop_anxiety.htm
Find a complete list of links to all the blog hops at http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/blog_hops.htm
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Gifted Island – Testing, testing…

“Are you really enjoying being here on Gifted Island?” Sprite asked me.
It felt like a trick question. It reminded me of a time I was trudging along a hot, dusty country road toward the fun I had promised at the playground, with a three year old and a baby in the pusher. Three year old asked in a very serious tone of voice “Are we having fun yet, Mummy?”

I did not want Sprite to think that I was not enjoying the experience of Survivor Gifted Island because then she would feel guilty that she had arranged it.
But I did not want to give the impression that I was ecstatically happy either; because we had often talked about the value of being direct and truthful with each other. In that way we could build a large reliable deposit in the truth bank and would be worthy of being believed when it really, really mattered.
I was tempted to answer “It’s like the curate’s egg – it is good in patches!”
But I did not want to have to explain the joke.

Then I wondered whether Sprite was wishing that she had not signed us up for Gifted Island and was hoping for my unhappiness as an excuse to leave.
So I gave her a flowery spiel about finding value and things to enjoy and learn in all experiences. I probably sounded a bit like a Pollyanna clone. But it convinced Sprite.

“Oh!” said Sprite “Oh! Well then I think I will be too sick to do any activities tomorrow”

And then I realised what the problem was.
In the handouts from the producers of the Survivor – Gifted Island game we were told that participation in the program would not exempt the students from the regular national and international academic benchmark testing.

“I thought NAPLAN was scheduling time to have a snooze in your hammock” said Sprite “But it isn’t! It is testing and tomorrow the inspector, Mr TIMSS is going to come and take the students to PISA to dive for PIRLS for more testing.”
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/gillard-was-concerned-schools-prepared-for-naplan-tests/story-fn59niix-1226038104285

Naturally Sprite was very anxious about the prospect.
One of the characteristics on Dr Linda Silverman’s Gifted Children with Learning Disabilities list was
* performs poorly on timed tests
http://www.gifteddevelopment.com/What_is_Gifted/2echildren.htm#signs

Testing was one of the times that the De Bono pink slippers could sometimes be produced.

As a 2E student Sprite would sometimes be given concessions such as extra writing time or use of a scribe or the computer during tests.
But she had not been permitted to bring the pink slippers to Gifted Island.
She was forced to wear the Can Do adjustable Velcro sandals and just manage as well as possible.
And I had noticed that some of the producers of the show tended to greet any concerns or complaints with “Suck it up Princess!”

“Would you still love me if I failed the tests and they said I wasn’t gifted at all and we had to leave the island and you couldn’t stay here any longer?” she asked.

That one question illustrated so many issues that can besiege gifted and 2E students

I could see it was time to go to a quiet rock pool for a long talk about how much I love her just for herself regardless of her performance.

“Of course I would still love you!” I said.

The Third S.I.P. – P for Physical and Practical Part 3

Apparently Perfectionism was not the only thing preventing Sprite from getting past Guard on Duty Black Dog
The other issue was Anxiety.
“What happens if Big Bertha the Bully is on the bus today?”
“What if I can’t find a friend for lunch time?”
“What if I get an answer wrong and everyone laughs at me?”
“Do I really have to go to school today?”

Fortunately the Twitter Birds who have been lavishing me with information about interesting websites, helpful books and great computer programs, in an attempt to make up for publicising Sprite’s disastrous protest march, brought me news of this book by Marjie Braun Knudsen and Jenne R. Henderson, Ph.D. titled BRAVE Be Ready And Victory’s Easy A story about social anxiety.

Marjie’s website is at http://www.summertimepress.com and there are a lot of helpful links at http://www.summertimepress.com/links
And there is a review of the book by Dr Michele Borba the parenting expert for the TODAY show at http://www.micheleborba.com/blog/2009/08/30/michele-borba-how-to-calm-your-child-school-anxieties-and-help-them-be-brave/

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The third SIP – P for Physical and Practical Part 1

P for Physical and Practical and Perfectionism

Clearly some of the causes of Sprite’s depression were anxiety about the future and therefore an aversion to taking any risks and her perfectionism which sometimes prevented her from starting any activity which she did not think she could complete perfectly.
This was what had caused her apprehension about the Guard Duty Black Dog.

I found some very helpful articles about perfectionism

Carol Peters describes Dr Linda Silverman’s attitude to perfectionism in an article which can be read at http://thescotts.topcities.com/perfectionism.html

Perfectionism is an inevitable part of the experience of being gifted.
Silverman believes that perfectionism needs to be appreciated as a two-edged sword that has the potential for propelling an individual toward unparalleled greatness or plummeting one into despair. The secret to harnessing its energy is to appreciate its positive force, learn how to set priorities and to avoid imposing one’s own high standards on others.
Dr Silverman says
Perfectionism is an integral part of Giftedness because:
1. The sine qua non of intelligence is the capacity for abstract reasoning, and perfectionism is an abstract concept. An affinity for perfectionism is as natural to the gifted as a love of mathematics or literature.
2. Perfectionism is a function of asynchrony: gifted children set standards according to their mental age rather than their chronological age.
3. Many gifted children have older playmates so they tend to set standards appropriate for their older friends.
4. Many gifted children have enough forethought to enable them to be successful in their first attempts at mastering any skill. They come to expect success and fear failure since they have had little experience with it.
Dr Linda Silverman’s article can be purchased from the Gifted Development Center at http://www.gifteddevelopment.net/xcart/home.php?cat=252&sort=orderby&sort_direction=0&page=2
There is a useful A PowerPoint presentation by Kevin Kendall at http://www.lexedu.org/Gifted/08-09/ProblemsWithOrganizationProcrastinationAndPerfectionism.ppt#1
And Shaun Hately discusses the connection between perfectionism and depression in Perfectionism and the Highly Gifted Child which can be read on Hoagies website at http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/perfectionHG.htm

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