The Child seeking his Self – the story of a gifted Child

Dangerous consequences are often reached when children are forced to prove their talents. More than anything, the child needs love, acceptance and understanding. Faced with rejection, suspicion, and never-ending challenges, children are unable to even use their existing abilities.

Raising a gifted child can be a daunting challenge, but it can be exciting for parents and teachers alike. Morelock (1992), drawing attention to the difficulties in raising gifted children, defined giftedness as follows: It is to show high performance and success in one or more of the fields of general mental ability, special academic ability, creative or productive thinking ability, leadership ability, talent in visual and performing arts, and psycho-motor ability.

Gifted children or youth; show a higher rank in the fields they are interested in than their peers, their environment and those who have the same experiences as themselves. Therefore, these children may begin to experience adaptation problems in situations that are not suitable for their own pace in their environment. Or gifted children may try to hide their current performance in order not to be left out of their peer group.

gifted children; Intelligence test results are determined by considering the factors including school levels, classroom success and observations of teachers and families. These children can reveal the first signs with early speech. They easily remember what they see and hear, have a high learning power, learn to read at an early age and generally on their own, have a high aesthetic and theoretical orientation. They generally want to make friends with those who are older than themselves, and they have high emotional sensitivity. In fact, giftedness is a great advantage, but this advantage can turn into a disadvantage if correct detection and guidance is not provided. The most important factor for correct determination is conscious parents and teachers.

The book we are going to examine in this article tells how the gifted child of a family who has turned an advantage situation into a disadvantage with wrong approaches, as I mentioned above, intersects with a conscious play therapist as the most important chance of his life, finds himself and enjoys his advantage. The title of the book ‘The Boy Searching for His Self’. The child Dibs, whose therapy process is described in the book. His parents, who attend a pre-school institution, are very successful and popular people in their professional lives. Dibs also has a younger sister. Dibs had bad times when he was in total darkness, but he took the opportunity to get out of that darkness and finally discovered for himself that he could cope with the light and shadow that life had to offer. Going back to the beginning of this adventure… Dibs was a very inconsistent kid at school. For a moment he would seem very backwards intellect. In another moment; he would do something quickly and quietly that would give the impression of being gifted. If he thought someone was looking at him, he would immediately withdraw into his shell. He would rock back and forth, chewing on the side of his hand, sucking on his finger. If one of his teachers invited him to the activity in the classroom, he would lie rigidly on the floor. He was a lonely child. Dibs’ father was a well-known scientist. Dibs was thought to be mentally retarded by his family. At school, her teachers were worried about Dibs and agreed that she needed special training. A play therapist was invited as a last chance to a meeting about Dibs. After observing the therapist Dibs, she decided to start play therapy with him for an hour once a week. For this, he had to meet with the family. The therapist went to Dibs’ house one day and met with his mother. ‘My job is basically to conduct research that will help increase our understanding of children,’ she explained to the shy and desperate mother. The mother said, ‘Dibs is just an idiot, that’s all. He was born that way. If you want to try therapy, try it, but I don’t come to any meeting.’ she said. It was decided to come to an agreement under certain conditions and start therapy. In the first playroom sessions of the therapy process, Dibs exhibits passive and adult dependent behaviors. The therapist, on the other hand, chooses the ground where he feels most secure, when initiative is left to the individual. Any direction, praise restrains the person. With his understanding, he tries to give Dibs the perception that he is a separate individual and that he is safe throughout the sessions. Take off your shoes if you want, you can play with them if you want, you can spend your time however you want… According to the therapist, children gain a sense of confidence with consistent and realistic limitations that can predict in advance. The therapist aimed to help Dibs distinguish between his emotions and his behavior. He had to take responsibility for himself and thus gain psychological independence. Dibs did not want to leave when the end of therapy approached, as everything was left to his own free will and his preferences were respected during playroom time. The therapist said, “You can only stay here for an hour. Whether you want it or not, you have to leave. Sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do.” He began to give Dibs the responsibility of getting out on time. Disb managed to leave the institution without any problems in the second game session. During the sessions, Dibs would reveal his traumatic feelings, sometimes in his life, with the symbolic games he set up. And in these situations he seemed to be plastered to show his ability to read. Perhaps he found it safer to engage in mental operations about objects, instead of going deeper into his feelings about himself, which he could not easily accept. This attitude was a clear indication of the conflict between what he expected from his own behavior and his effort to be himself. It was clear that Dibs was not at all mentally retarded, even ahead of his age, as he thought, with his sentences and knowing how to read. And how this child could hold so deeply the mental wealth that he was so ready to express, the therapist was astounded.

Dibs started to reveal the reactions he received from his parents at home, the punishment methods used on him, and the insults, one by one, with the games he set up. In some games, Dibs would go to the moment of his real life and start crying. In such cases, it could be helped by giving him a life that would improve his talent with a changing world, not with a lot of words trying to relieve his sadness with long explanations and apologies by giving him consolation. Often we have little control over the disadvantages in our outer world, as Dibs could not. However, if we learn to use our inner strengths, we carry our security with us. In his plays, Dibs often punished the father figure, buried him, locked doors on him, insulted him. In moments when his feelings about the father figure were revived, he was trying to get rid of the effect of the event by directing his attention to the objects he knew better. Since Dibs could not find any parent, teacher, or friend who understood and tolerated his cat, he turned his friendship preference to inanimate objects. This behavior also led his surroundings to think that he was abnormal.

Dibs, who left sad at the end of the game sessions, now accepted that the sessions had a beginning and an end. During the session, he played whatever he wanted, he wasn’t being showered with questions and his knowledge was not tried to be tested. Dibs was no longer as quiet as before. He expresses himself more in the sessions and at the end of the session, he went to his mother, who came to pick him up, by saying “my happy game room time is over, but I will come again next week”. At the end of a session, Dibs, who had no communication with his mother, said, ‘Mom, I love you’. Hearing this, the mother’s eyes filled with tears and the therapist was also very happy. Because now she was expressing her feelings. She also began to analyze her feelings about her father. One day, the mother asked the therapist for a consultation. During this counseling period, she explained how Dibs had changed at home, and they began to realize that the problem was not with Dibs but with their own attitudes. He now had a more open communication with his father and could object to it in a situation that he did not like. His mother explained that Dibs was the result of an unwanted pregnancy, and that she had to quit her beloved and popular job after she was born. For this family, intelligence was the priority of everything. His mother had tried to teach Dibs to read when he was very young, reading books, introducing new information, and constantly testing him with what she had taught him. Apart from this information transfer, he did not form an emotional bond. With their perfectionist attitude, Dibs reacted to a small mistake and caused him to withdraw into himself and develop the defense mechanism of withdrawing into himself.

Dangerous consequences are often reached when children are forced to prove their talents. More than anything, the child needs love, acceptance and understanding. Faced with rejection, suspicion, and never-ending challenges, children are unable to even use their existing abilities.

The teachers at the preschool institution where Dibs attends want to schedule a meeting with the therapist one day, and the interview takes place. From the interview, the teachers tell that Dibs began to change, albeit slowly, astoundingly. ‘He’s now responding to us, getting more involved in activities, self-expression and starting to engage with his friends.’ they say. His teachers say he hasn’t had a tantrum in a very long time. And his teacher brought with him drawings that Dibs had made in the classroom and he showed it to the therapist. The therapist had previously seen drawings of Dibs at home made by his mother, and they are truly in extraordinary detail and perspective. But what the teacher shows are normal pictures of preschoolers. The therapist is surprised to see these. Dibs is not as introverted as he used to be, but he doesn’t show his talents fully either, thinking that maybe he did it to stay in the group. He does not tell his teachers about this situation and the suspicion of superior talent, so he does not want to discourage the teachers. Now, Dibs’ parents have realized Dibs’ abilities and have started to approach him with love and tolerance, not by testing his abilities. They all start to spend time together by participating in weekend activities. Dibs was able to express his feelings of violence and hatred towards his father only when Dibs got better with his father. Over time, Dibs’ feelings of hatred and revenge were tempered by compassion. He was constructing his self-concept as he resolved his complex emotions and stepped out of them. In the symbolic game he founded; He had expressed his hurt, wounded feelings, and re-emerged with feelings of strength and security. He had searched for himself and found a personality he could proudly call ‘mine’. He was now beginning to establish a personality that was more in tune with the forces within him. He was realizing the integration of his personality. Pride and self-respect were heightened. With this competence and confidence, it would also be more possible for him to accept and respect other people in his world. Dibs was no longer afraid to be himself. The last session was held after the summer vacation, and in the session, Dibs told that he loved coming here and that he loved his therapist, that he was happy here, that he loved his parents very much and that he played games with his brother. After the last therapy, he scored 168 points in the Stanfort Binet intelligence test and is characterized as a child who is extraordinarily gifted and uses his talents effectively. Later, they told the therapist, who encountered the family, that Dibs was now a happy and calm child. They tell that he started going to a school that gave education to gifted children. Dibs can now be a happy and peaceful child. As Dibs said, ‘what you want, what I want, what we want’. First, a person should know and accept himself, then the person who accepts himself accepts and respects other people and ideal communication is achieved. that is, a common way is found by evaluating both the wishes of the person himself and the wishes of the people around him.

As we learned from this book, giftedness, which is a great advantage, can be avoided from being a disadvantage with the right approaches. If given the opportunity, a child can communicate directly with an open heart and become self-aware.

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