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Permission to Be Different

When you’re parenting a gifted or 2e kid, it helps to think outside the box.

Last year, my preschooler and I walked into his allergy doctor’s office with a grocery bag and Easter basket full of toy food items.

At the time, my kid was very into toy food items. When it was time to leave home for our appointment, he was in the middle of shopping and unloading his cart. He was sad it was time to go and he started to complain that he didn’t want to leave.

I could sense that he was on the edge of tears and an argument.

So, I suggested we bring the food along.

Immediately, his resistance softened - yes, let’s bring the food to the doctor! He happily began packing to get ready to go.

That morning, the transitions out of the house, into the car, and into the allergy doctor were so much easier than they would have been without his food toys.

My takeaway for myself and other parents of intense gifted/2e kids?

Give yourself permission to be different.

Neurodivergent kids of any type, by definition, think differently than most other kids their age.

So when you’re parenting an intense or sensitive gifted/2e kid, it helps to think outside the box.

In fact, it’s often essential to think outside the box. The box was not designed for your kid! (Or maybe any kid, for that matter.)

Perhaps you've already noticed that when you're willing to do something unusual or nontraditional, this can turn an argument into ease or help your child feel more comfortable.

When I walked into that allergy appointment with my kid, I actually felt quite proud of myself and of him. He was delighted by the toys he’d brought and excitedly described them to the nurse and doctor. To me, this unusual endeavor was a success - my kid felt comfortable and at peace with himself, playing grocery store in the allergy doctor’s office. And we’d made it through the morning smoothly instead of in tears.

What are some things you’d allow, if you had permission to be different?

How would you like to affirm your child’s way of being in the world?


Below are some examples to consider.


Which of these do you already do? Are there some ideas here you’d like to try? 

  • Let your child die or cut their hair a new way

  • Let your child choose less traditional hairstyle, clothes, or accessories

  • Say "yes" to something you usually feel pulled to say “no” to

  • Get your child the pet they’re begging for

  • Allow more screen time than your friends do, if that’s what works well for your kid

  • Let your child swear at home

  • Choose a specialized school, a non-traditional school, homeschooling, or unschooling

  • Adopt more relaxed tidiness standards

  • Let your child or teen take a stuffed animal to school for comfort

  • De-prioritize or ignore social niceties that stress or harm your child

  • Excuse your child from large-group gatherings, or let them read or watch videos in the corner if that’s how they stay regulated

  • Cuddle as much as your child wants (while respecting your own comfort or need for space)

  • Let your child paint, decorate, or keep their room the way they like

  • Let your child sleep in your bed - when they're upset, or when they request (many neurodivergent kids don't sleep through the night, so this is a common one!)

If you want more ideas like this directly to your inbox, sign up for Gifted Lab Notes, my weekly email with tips and information for supporting your intense or sensitive gifted or twice-exceptional (2e) kid.

Parents often tell me that one of the trickiest parts of raising an intense gifted or twice-exceptional kid is knowing when to be firm and when to be flexible. Parents often worry that they've been too lenient in following their kid's lead, or too demanding in their expectations - in fact, most parents worry they've done both, in different circumstances!

In my parent coaching program, Parenting Your Intense Gifted Kid, we celebrate your child's unique way of doing things and help you feel more confident about when to go along with their ideas and when to set limits. 

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