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My kids turn 13 this month. Triplets - 2 girls, 1 boy.

My son is "gifted" and goes to the SAGE program once a week through our public school district. He says he hates it but can't tell me why. There is a Facebook group with lots of articles and info on the emotional needs of gifted kids, and some of them resonate so that's why I'm mentioning his giftedness. 

I also feel like it could totally just be being a 13 year old kid. He's SO grumpy. He doesn't tolerate any silliness from his sisters and gets so mad at them. Maybe he just feels like the odd one out? The only boy, the "smart" one. He also delights in acting like a second dad to them - bossing them around and scolding them. He loves correcting them. It's like he only speaks when it's to say something negative. "Actually... bla bla..." I've talked about doing negative things (such as teasing), neutral things (basically just doing nothing), and doing positive things (like helping someone or saying something nice to them). Obviously negative things are bad, neutral is "whatever" and positives are actually nice and kind. I've told him he needs to work on actually doing positive acts and he simply seems incapable.

He seems very insecure about himself but I don't know why. He's smart but not weird. He's super sporty and one of the best on his baseball team. He gets along with all the boys on the team just fine. He has buddies that he does things with. He's cute. (He does think he's fat). He often calls himself weird and unsocialized. 

He's very repetitive when there is something he wants. Their bday is coming up and he wants a Nintendo Switch and he mentions it constantly. CONSTANTLY. He wants to go skiing this spring and it's the same thing. It's like he thinks there's power in repetition. 

He has a very hard time finding fun. He loves bouncing a ball against the garage and catching it. He loves playing catch. But only with my husband or me. Sadly for him there are no other kids in our cul-de-sac and his sisters are really not very good at playing catch. There is a boy that used to be on his baseball team who lives a good walk away and I often encourage him to see if he wants to play but he says no. He says he's not a very good ball player. 

I just sent the kids outside for "recess" and the girls are playing volleyball and he's throwing his ball against the garage. He came in because "it's not fun to play alone." I told him to play with the girls (he's good at volleyball) but he said he wanted to play catch and they don't want to. So to me it's like, play what you want and be alone or play something else and be with people. Personally I'd bend a little and play something that is maybe not my top choice but that I still enjoy and be with people. Ok so he just joined them and already he's hit a ball into one girl's face. Probably not on purpose but he also rarely sees any fault in himself and apologizes.

The kids have been playing the Wii a lot lately and he prefers Mario Baseball and the girls prefer Mario World. All 3 can play both of those games and all 3 kids like both games though and the girls often do play Mario Baseball with him, but then when they ask him to play Mario World, he doesn't want to. He just wants to do what he wants, with whom he wants, and when he wants.

He often declines going to his very best friend's house because he prefers what they do at our house. I think on one hand it's nice to have the confidence to say you don't want to do something but on the other hand his friend might like having him there for a change.

I'm not saying that he should never get to pick the activity with his sisters or friends. Obviously there should be some give and take.

So I don't know. Does this just seem like sullen teen stuff or what?

Edited by lgliser
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57 minutes ago, lgliser said:

He's cute. (He does think he's fat). He often calls himself weird and unsocialized. 

These both seem to be concerns to him. Have you taken them seriously? Where is he on the growth charts? Does the data make a difference to him? Is he wanting to begin to work out with weights? Can you take him to the Y to get him youth class to get started?

I think it's normal to go through some angst years with puberty, but I also think that sometimes kids are seeing themselves in comparison to their peers in a way that their parents don't. If he were enrolled completely in school, what would happen? 

And did these kids have some speech/language issues early on? Was he one of them? I always forget people's stories.

I'm not asking about enrolling to imply you should but more to say you already have data that maybe you haven't connected. Like think hard about what would happen socially, academically, emotionally, etc. Is he saying he wants out with boys more? Is he saying he's noticing he's different? I mean, it sure sounds like he's noticing some differences. My dd started noticing differences before I did. I'm just saying that very politely and discretely here. I saw all her strengths and what she was good at, and she could see her differences when she was with peers. And my dd is amazing, so it's not like I'm saying your ds wears pocket protectors and jacks his pants up, lol. I'm just saying with my dd when that happened it was because she was actually seeing stuff and I hadn't picked up the clue phone.

Some kids have subtle issues that fly under the radar. I'm trying to think about what you could do here. I know what we did, but I'm trying to think also with some hindsight, lol. Maybe you have some more data to help you decide.

Is there any untreated ADHD that could factor in?

Is he through puberty or still growing? My dd didn't become human till 9th. It was pretty dramatic when she came to the other side. He may continue to need significant feeding and sleep to be polite.

Does he have any issues with self-awareness (realizing how his body feels or his emotions) or an unusual hypersensitivity? 

Is there anything that seems to HELP like more sleep, more protein, more time with friends, more exercise?

Is there anything that seems to AGGRAVATE it, like more time alone, whatever?

Have you considered or could you make happen counseling?

Is he taking basic vitamins like calcium, magnesium, D? 

Are his sleep patterns normal or an issue?

To benefit from counseling, he needs to have the language and the self-awareness. If he's missing either of those pieces, the counselor needs to bring it, with other approaches and with work on self-awareness. The self-awareness you could work on at home, and it's a place you might start because you can do it immediately, for free, with little hassle. It's kind of evidence-based for almost EVERYTHING seemingly, lol. Got anxiety, work on self-awareness. Got ADHD, work on self-awareness. Got sensory issues, work on self-awareness. LOL

https://www.kelly-mahler.com/what-is-interoception/ Good info on interoception and types of self-awareness (affective and hypostatic).

https://www.mindful.org/mindfulness-meditation-guided-practices/  Free info on doing body scans.

I would make some changes based on the info you're gathering here. Just the fact that it concerns you tells you it's something that needs some attention, some change. I think it's much more common than you realize to need some help at this age/stage. People just don't necessarily talk about it.

 

Edited by PeterPan
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8 hours ago, lgliser said:

The only boy, the "smart" one.

Btw, were the IQs tested on the girls as well? Siblings are usually within 10 points, so it seems highly improbable that one is SO much more gifted than the other. Maybe one was bright and the other crossed the line, sure. Or one had a language disability that was just enough to drop the scores and not qualify the kid. 

Personally, I'd stomp him in the ground on that. Siblings are usually within 10, the ps IQ testing is crap, and he's still dumber than most people, including you. :wink:  I don't know, I've lived with teenage omniscience for a while now, and that's just my opinion on how to handle it. 

Has he done any personality testing? It's a funny thing, because it can maybe make it worse if they draw inaccurate conclusions. But again, it's another way to work on self-awareness. The first step is him realizing how he feels (affective and hypostatic emotions) and being able to put it into words. Or at least mental words enough that he can self-advocate and say what he really wants. I did the personality testing stuff with my dd, going through a book together (Do What You Are) and it was good. She was able to run with it and it helped her understand a lot of dynamics.

You know, you might start with some books from SocialThinking.com and see how far that gets you. It's another conservative, not too $$$ place to start. https://www.socialthinking.com/  Go here, pull down their recs, sift for the appropriate age group. Your library may have a lot of the titles, so you could just get a pile and let him read and see what sticks, what makes him think, what makes him have questions. There are some really good books there. 

Sometimes what happens with books like that is the book as a whole is maybe too whatever (too easy, obvious, etc.), but there are some chapters in it that are like OH and they start thinking and pick up the clue phone. So it would just be a subtle, inexpensive way to see what happens. So that's another good place to start, with social thinking books aimed at teens. And if you do that and the body scans and working on self-awareness, then I would start putting your ear to the ground on counselors. You'd be looking for just the right person. We found one through the Focus on the Family referral site. My dd used two types of counselors, because she had such a wide range of questions that benefited from people in different areas of specialty. (one a phd psych, the other a phd biblical counselor with experience with all kinds of stuff like ADHD, ASD, sensory, etc.)

Edited by PeterPan
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And see, here everybody thinks people come to LC and we tell them to get $4k in evals on a dime, lol. But seriously, there are conservative places to start. Try the Social Thinking books, the self-awareness, and think hard about the data you already have. You can try small steps, see where it gets you. A counselor would be the next step, but even picking the right person isn't obvious until you have more data.

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