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Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students: Helping Kids Cope with Explosive Feelings

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Teaching children how to manage their intense emotions is one of the most difficult aspects of parenting or educating gifted children. Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students: Helping Kids Cope With Explosive Feelings provides a much-needed resource for parents and educators for understanding of why gifted children are so extreme in their behavior and how to manage the highs and lows that accompany emotional intensity. Presented in an easy-to-read, conversational style, this revised and updated second edition contains additional chapters addressing temperament and personality development, as well as expanded role-plays and strategies designed to show parents and teachers how to interact and guide gifted children in a way that teaches them how to recognize, monitor, and adjust their behavior. Updated resources and worksheets make this practical resource a must-read for anyone wishing to make a positive and lasting impact on the lives of gifted children.

225 pages, Paperback

First published October 1, 2010

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About the author

Christine Fonseca

35 books388 followers
Award-winning and critically-acclaimed author of fiction and non-fiction. Lover of books, lattes, and family. Passionate about humanity. Critically-acclaimed titles include Transcend, The Requiem Series, and The Solomon Experiment series, and Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students, second edition.

When Christine isn’t writing a book, she can be found sipping too many skinny vanilla lattes next to a beach with a book in her hand.
For more information, visit her website – http://christinefonseca.com.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 113 reviews
Profile Image for Medeia Sharif.
Author 18 books427 followers
October 16, 2010
This book answered many of my questions pertaining to giftedness in children. Why do gifted children recollect feelings so strongly? Why do they lash out? What to do about mood swings? How about stress management and the strive for perfection?

The author wrote about deep psychological issues in a a simple format. She breaks things down, uses case studies, presents scenarios, and provides invaluable information to both parents and teachers. Checklists, tip sheets, and worksheets reiterate important points and strategies to help the reader organize a plan of action.

If you're a teacher or parent of the gifted, or you're interested in self-help, parenting and psychology books, then EMOTIONAL INTENSITY will be of interest to you. There are many gifted children struggling in some or all aspects of their lives: friends, family, peers, academics, and emotions. Like any group of young people dependent on the grown-ups around them, these kids need guidance and support. This book is a wonderful tool to help meet their needs. Fonseca has added a great resource to gifted literature.
Profile Image for Michelle McLean.
Author 23 books222 followers
September 30, 2010
Christine Fonseca’s Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students is a wonderful tool for anyone trying to understand these incredible kids. Ms. Fonseca debunks a lot of the myths associated with gifted children, including assumptions that children with disabilities can’t be gifted, that gifted kids never fail, and most importantly in my opinion, the belief that gifted kids don’t need help to get through school.

Ms. Fonseca’s book goes through what it means to be gifted and why that goes hand in hand with being emotionally intense. In addition to tackling assumptions about giftedness, she talks about mislabeling, incorrect diagnosis and shares wonderful information on how to cope with the special needs of gifted children.

She shares strategies and illustrates situations and techniques with hypothetical case studies and includes an entire section on how parents and educators can coach these amazing children. The book is full of easy-to-understand tip sheets and includes additional resource suggestions.

The best thing about this book – you don’t have to have a PhD in psychology to understand it. It’s straight forward and uncomplicated, giving the reader all the tools they need in a way anyone can understand. I would whole heartedly recommend this book for any parent or teacher of a gifted child.
Profile Image for Julie Butcher.
4 reviews43 followers
October 3, 2010
Your child is the smart one, the one who gets bored in school or refuses to do homework, the one who is bullied or has difficulty making friends. Your child has a heart the size of Mount Rushmore, and can inexplicably grasp concepts and emotions that should be impossible for him or her to understand.
Your child is in this book.
Christine Fonesca, in her book, Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students: Helping Kids Cope With Explosive Feelings, deals with problems that we as parents and teachers of gifted and talented children face each day. She explains in compassionate and easy to understand verbiage why our children are like they are and what we can do to help them grow into amazing adults.
Ms. Fonesca debunks commonly held myths about the gifted and gives you the tools you need for better parent-teacher relationships, better parent-child relationships, and most importantly makes you realize that there is hope for this group of misunderstood children.
I cannot recommend this book strongly enough. Ms. Fonesca’s understanding, compassion, and enthusiasm for gifted and talented children shines in this easily understood read. Her often amusing and sometimes heart breaking examples explain the frustration and brilliance of the gifted in a way I’ve never seen before. Parents, Teachers, you need this book.
Profile Image for Danyelle Leafty.
Author 23 books110 followers
October 15, 2010
Generally I don't read as much nonfiction, partly because my brain cells are all asleep by the time I can settle down with a book, and partly because a lot of nonfiction is...dry. But one of the first things I noticed about EMOTIONAL INTENSITY is that it felt like Christine and I were sitting down and chatting. I love that the tone of the text is very conversational. It flows with a very natural rhythm that is easy to follow.

I was also very impressed at the range of the audience for EMOTIONAL INTENSITY is. This book really is for anyone who is dealing with an emotionally intense child--especially if they're gifted as well. The author speaks to parents, educators, and in some ways, to the children themselves. As a parent who home schools and has four very emotionally intense children, this book has really helped me put things in their proper perspective and come up with a game plan for helping my children cope and embrace their emotional intensity.

What can you expect to find?
EMOTIONAL INTENSITY is divided into three parts. The first section of the book details what it really means to be gifted. There are a lot of assumptions about giftedness that people take for granted that are more myth than fact. I liked that there was also a chapter in this section that dealt with those who are twice blessed: those who are emotionally intense and gifted, and also have a disability as well. The second section explains how to deal with all the information you learn in the first section. This is the part of the book where you will learn how to put the theory into practice. What makes this even more helpful is that throughout the book case studies are used to highlight the specific section so the HOW TO is illustrated with an example. The third section teaches you how to be a good coach to your child whether your the parent, the caretaker, or the educator.

There are also case studies of three different children in each section of the book which helps to illustrate not only what it means to be gifted and emotionally intense, but how those caring for these children can implement simple strategies to help them. I liked that the case studies allowed me to put myself in their shoes.

There are also a few extras like checklists and tip sheets that give specific instructions on how to implement some of the coping strategies as well as specific things to look out for. These are tremendously helpful as you can personalize them to specific children.

And at the end of the book, there are pages of very helpful resources that cover topics from giftedness, parenting a gifted child, dealing with bullies, and all the other myriad of personality traits a gifted child probably has (like perfectionism and anxiety).

So if you're a parent of a child who is gifted or emotionally intense (or both!), an educator, or even someone who has been identified as gifted, I would definitely recommend checking this book out.
Profile Image for Sherrie Petersen.
Author 1 book17 followers
June 10, 2010
While many of the parenting strategies found in EMOTIONAL INTENSITY IN GIFTED STUDENTS would be useful in any home, what really impressed me were the tips for helping children (as well as parents and teachers) recognize emotional triggers. Once kids and parents learn to see the signs building, they can work together to prevent outbursts and find ways to relax before negative emotions overtake the entire family. Useful tip sheets, checklists and worksheets throughout the book offer practical guidance for working through various issues. The final third of the book helps parents learn how to better communicate and “coach” their children through difficult scenarios.

This book is written in a conversational tone, making it incredibly readable. Christine has managed to give her readers real insight into what it means to be gifted and clearly illustrated the internal struggle that children might face as a result. Anyone who works with kids can benefit from reading EMOTIONAL INTENSITY IN GIFTED STUDENTS, but if you have a gifted child in your home, you won’t regret making this book your guide.
Profile Image for Joy.
587 reviews28 followers
April 13, 2011
My sister recommended this book to me since we both have very emotionally charged, gifted kids. This book was a pleasure to read. It's not dry or clinical at all, and Christine Fonseca is able to cover the subject of giftedness as both a parent and school psychologist.

Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students not only helped me to understand a lot of my son's behavior and issues, but I was able to learn a lot about my own issues and responses to him. There are tip sheets and worksheets throughout to help parents and children start a dialogue to deal with emotional and behavioral issues in a healthy, constructive manner. I love how the focus in this book is on the parent coaching the child in order to empower our exceptional children with the confidence and coping skills they need to handle their strong emotions. I plan to work through the book with my husband and son to learn some of these techniques.

I would highly recommend this book to any parent struggling with how to handle the intense emotions of a gifted child.

I have to mention that I was very fortunate to receive a signed copy of this book from the author through Goodreads First Reads.
Profile Image for Vanessa Olson.
168 reviews4 followers
July 24, 2012
This book is a fabulous resource for anyone with 'intense' children, but particularly with gifted children as well. I normally shy away from books such as these, but even into chapter one I knew it would be helpful. I read is at the beginning of this past school year and waited to reserve judgement until I had tried to use some of the advice given in the book.

Nothing substitutes loving, listening and being engaged and concerned for your own children, but this book helped me understand a better way to do it for my daughter and helped me also understand a lot of the "why's" I am am also so baffled about when it came to her behavior. She is much happier, I'm less stressed, and we are no longer off to the doctor's to check on her stress inflicted ulcers (at 9 years old no less.) It's not a magic book, but it's a step in the right direction if you are overwhelmed.
Profile Image for Steph Campbell.
Author 27 books1,157 followers
July 14, 2011
I am in love with this book. It is such an amazing feeling to find a resource like this and feel like someone "gets it". We struggle with these issues with Liam so much. It's gotten to the point where I've found myself wishing that he wasn't so smart sometimes because of the emotional struggles that he has. He doesn't want to try anything new if there isn't a guarantee that he can do it perfectly the first time and misses out on so much. I text Chris earlier to tell him I started reading this and was crying tears of relief that someone understands. Raising a gifted child is not a breeze just because they are smarter than their peers. It has it's own unique struggles that are rarely talked about. So glad to have found this book!
Profile Image for ladydusk.
427 reviews174 followers
March 16, 2012

There were a couple of sections of this book that I found interesting and/or useful. The conversational tone annoyed me, a more professional or informational tone would have been better. The redundancy got a bit old. The model conversations could be helpful if a parent can out-talk their gifted student.

I didn't think the book did a good job of defining "giftedness" to begin with. It was helpful to see some of the behaviors described and to consider some of the reasons for those behaviors.

I will admit to "in depth skimming" much of the book. I don't like the pop-psychology, situational responses or the generalizations based on an unspecified sample size.
Profile Image for Cara Ball.
561 reviews1 follower
November 18, 2012
A great resource for ideas/solutions when dealing with highly emotional children. I had stepped away from parenting books relating to the gifted child since I felt like they all seemed to be focused on the 'gifted' part of the child and not what is so challenging to the parent--in my case the emotions. This book was very helpful in explaining and offering step by step solutions parents can take in order to assist their child. It also reframed the social/emotional issues in a way which made them more manageable. In addition to recommending this book to parents of gifted children, the book will also be helpful to parents with highly emotional children as well.
26 reviews10 followers
December 31, 2014
As a female who studied at a gifted school for 7 years and parent of an 8-year old gifted and spirited boy I found this an excellent book full of practical strategies for coaching and helping gifted children with their emotional and behavioral issues. I think it is one of the few resources that describes the emotional intensity of gifted children in great detail and gives parents the tools they need to make a shift from managing child's behavior to understand and shape the way in which child reacts with his/her world.
403 reviews
February 21, 2020
A very helpful book. The key idea is to help children and teens learn to manage their intense emotions, not to change them into less intense versions of themselves.
Profile Image for Ljconrad.
3 reviews1 follower
February 12, 2011
My review of: Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students! Although I was privileged to receive an advanced copy, I have received no other incentives to review it. I simply believe that this book will make your life as the parent of a gifted child a whole lot easier.

From author Christine Fonseca, it is the kind of book that you read … fall in love with … hope there is a sequel (there is) … want to give as a gift to every teacher, school psychologist, and guidance counselor who has ever come in contact with your child … wish it had been available 5, 10, 15 years ago (depending on how old your kids are) … and keep on your nightstand for easy reference at the end of the day. YES, it’s that kind of book! Have I read it? Yep. Have I read it more than once? Yep. Have I purchased extra copies for gifts? You betcha!

So, why am I such a fan of this book? Christine Fonseca is not the first person to write about the intense emotions displayed by gifted children, but this book is different. For starters, the author is the parent of two gifted kids. A+ She works as a school psychologist. A+ And, beyond that, she is a hell of a writer … intelligent, engaging, and practical! Need I say more? Why, yes I do!

Perhaps the subtitle of this book is the most revealing reason why it is so important for gifted parents to read – Helping Kids Cope with Explosive Feelings. If your child is not in school yet, you may not have encountered the full force of their potential explosive feelings. But, don’t worry … you will! And when it happens, you’ll be thanking me for telling you about this book.

Is your little dear a perfectionist? Does he or she exhibit extreme mood swings? How about under performing in school when you know they know it? Do you know how to help them manage the stress? Enter Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students. This book will help you answer all these questions and more.

So, what actually sets this book apart from the others? Besides being a good read, Ms. Fonseca includes ‘worksheets’, ‘tip sheets’ and ‘checklists’ for parents as well as ‘notes to the teacher’ throughout the book. She presents strategies that are tried and true. The book is divided into 3 sections – What it Really Means to be Gifted; Great Information, Now What?; and Being Your Child’s Coach – Specific Strategies.

After 19 years of gifted parenting, I thought I pretty much knew it all. I was so wrong and I learned so much from reading this book! Now that my children are almost grown, I intend to use what I’ve learned to help other parents.

Did I mention the sequel? Why, yes I did in paragraph 2. Coming soon, 101 Success Secrets for Gifted Kids, is intended for your kids. To save time and the angst that may occur should it sell out repeatedly as has Emotional Intensity, may I suggest that you pre-order it along with this book! Trust me … read the book!

Profile Image for Melody Riggs.
762 reviews2 followers
April 14, 2013
My daughter's teacher recommended this book to us because over the last two or three months she has had moments where she has exploded at school, either with the teacher or with another student.

I was skeptical at first. As an educator myself, I've never been a fan of the "gifted" label. There were some times initially too where the writing style of the book frustrated me (particularly with the author would bring up a new lint and then say it would be discussed later). Also, there were times when i felt the whole book was kind of "dumbed down" (I guess I expected a slightly more elevated writing style considering this is a parenting guide containing research. Maybe I expected something more formal and better organized. But style preference issues aside, the book did offer quite a bit of insight into our daughter's recent behaviors.

Our daughter is in her last year of preschool and will attend kindergarten next year. While no test has formally determined that she is gifted, her preschool teacher said she is bright and understands things differently from and usually at a level above her classmates. This book was great at providing some strategies and tips for helping our daughter deal with her frustrations and cope with her sometimes intense outbursts.

Sme of the book wasn't quite relevant as our daughter doesn't have homework yet, only attends school for 2.5 hours a day, and is just young. However, we'll probably use this book as a reference in the future should we continue to encounter problems. Right now, the biggest tips bringing peace to our household are the coping strategies to teach children and the tip to parents to distance themselves and not get emotionally invested in situations and tantrums with your child.

As an educator with several gifted students in a typical classroom, I found the notes to teachers sections also helpful.

Overall is was a quick and informative read with strategies and ideas that my husband and I could begin implementing immediately and easily. I do wish there would've been more information included about younger children since even the youngest case study example was a few years older than my kid.
Profile Image for Julie.
312 reviews20 followers
December 30, 2014
I am so grateful that this book was written and that I was able to read it. It answered so many questions for me that I have struggled with in my 23 years of parenting, including: "Why are my children so intense?", and "Why is such and such child having such and such problem, when they are so smart and capable?". It also explained much in my childhood, and really my adulthood also.

It explains the special needs and challenges that gifted children face in school, in relationships, and in life. I also explains the special challenges and needs of children that are "dually exceptional" - being both gifted and challenged through learning disabilities or other challenges like ADHD or autism. I have one of these children too.

The author does an excellent job of explaining the challenges and issues that gifted children face, and explaining how both parents and educators can help them learn to manage their intense emotional reactions so that they can have more successful relationships and school experiences.

I especially appreciated the section on learning to be a coach for your child. It gave examples of behavioral problems and frustrations that gifted children often have, and gave a typical parental response to them, breaking down the mistakes the parent often makes in such a conversation. It then teaches how to effectively communicate with a child so that you are coaching them to learn to solve their own problems, rather than simply disciplining the child.
Profile Image for Taffy.
950 reviews69 followers
October 15, 2010
This book is great for any parent but especially for those who parent and teach gifted children. It wouldn't hurt all teachers and principals to read this book!

What I loved: Christine starts at the beginning by educating the reader what a gifted child is and why they are more emotional. She goes over the mislabels, myths, diagnosis, etc. that often accompany a gift child's emotions.
Every chapter is short and doesn't read like a college text book. Christine uses understandable terms. At the end of each chapter, she has extra help/ ideas for teachers.
I LOVE case studies and stories. Every chapter has them and really helped me to ingrain what I was reading. She has tips, worksheets and checklists to help. This book was a great help to me. It was well written, concise, understandable.
What I didn't like: Nothing!
Profile Image for Marissa Morrison.
1,675 reviews18 followers
July 20, 2012
This is probably the best book I've read about helping kids deal with big emotions. Fonseca references Dabrowski's Overexcitabilities and explains that a high level of emotional intensity is totally normal in the gifted population. In addition to urging parents and teachers to recalibrate their expectations, Fonseca recommends specific ways to help kids deal with emotional intensity, anxiety, perfectionism, friendships and bullying.

I wish that the book contained less general discussion and more practical advice.
Profile Image for Shanna.
162 reviews23 followers
May 16, 2013
I recommend this book for anyone with an intense child. I devoured this book in just a couple of evenings after a rough few weeks with my 7yo son. It's a wonderful feeling to feel like this is a "normal" thing that some parents experience and you truly are not doing something terribly wrong. This book is filled with indispensable advice and, beyond that, scenarios that make you realize this may be a different kind of normal.
Profile Image for Christine.
241 reviews2 followers
August 7, 2022
This book was part of a book study conducted in our school system for those who work with gifted students. However, it is not just written towards a teacher's perspective but also for parents who often are blind sided, or don't realize, the extent of their child's giftedness. The book looks at what constitutes being gifted, versus talented, as well as providing information on how to construct a solid foundation that will enable you as the parent to deal with the explosions and temperaments that can be part of a gifted child's day to day operations. I appreciated the look at how to create a village to support the child by directly communicating with the educational staff about the child and basically being the child's advocate. Lastly, the strategies that could be used are shown through a variety of scenarios that shows what to do as well as what not to do or say. Overall it is a good book and well suited to help those who are gifted with a gifted child or student.
Profile Image for Ashia Pollen.
50 reviews2 followers
November 7, 2018
Some very helpful suggestions I will be trying. Actually helped me understand myself as a child and adult better. I definitely think this will help me respond to and teach my son how to handle his emotions better.
Profile Image for Janet Helmcamp.
61 reviews1 follower
September 3, 2019
Purchased for use with school counselors. A little disappointed when I discovered it was written for parents. There are anecdotes for school personnel. I think overall it helps the reader understand how emotional intensities are manifested in gifted students and gives a few strategies for helping the student decompress.
Profile Image for Laura Copa.
29 reviews1 follower
January 12, 2022

There is lot of good information in this book that has been helpful for me to understand my son better, along with ways to help him with his big emotions. The kindle version I read had several grammatical errors in every chapter.
Profile Image for Amy.
162 reviews10 followers
July 1, 2014
Fonseca covers a specific aspect of parenting gifted children: dealing with their tendency to explode out of frustration, anger, boredom, or more. If you go into this book expecting a comprehensive parenting guide, it's not here. This is specific, practical advice on handling these situations when they come up.

My version was on the Nook, so there were some issues with the formatting that cut off letters whenever the author used a double dash (--), and she used them a lot, which made for a lot of guessing and interrupted the text flow.

The first part of the book explains reasons why gifted children might have explosive behavior, and the second offers situations with dialogue as it might naturally occur, and then corrected to create a more positive outcome. The author is very familiar with the Positive Parenting philosophy; if you've read and implemented those systems, there is little new information here. I did appreciate that her examples included older children, since so many parenting books seem to focus on very young children.

This book was under 150 pages via the Nook and was a very quick read. If you're having issues with your gifted child's explosive behavior, it may be worth reading, especially if you don't have the Positive Parenting background. The resources in the back may be the best part of the book, though; I've found many more books I'd like to explore.
Profile Image for Cindelu.
488 reviews21 followers
December 12, 2015
I won this book on Goodreads.
Having gifted granddaughters that I regularly interact with I was very interested in reading this book.
I read the nearly 200 pages in about an hour and a half. It was easy to read, enlightening and validated many of the emotions and behaviors I have witnessed in my granddaughters. I especially enjoyed the scenarios and conversations between children and adults, then an explanation of that conversation and then a coaching method of dealing with the situation. I am grateful to have new methods of coping with some situations and will be trying them. I'm giving this to their mom to read also.
Profile Image for Morgan Schulman.
1,200 reviews27 followers
February 25, 2019
I’ve read so many parenting books about dealing with children with intense emotions but none of them ever seem to get it. I never thought to look at it through a gifted lens because I always think that “gifted” was a “good thing”. This book give me an excellent insight into my child’s behavior, as well as my own reactions to it and some of my own childhood issues. Just knowing I’m not alone take so much of the emotion out of the situation. I got it from the library but I’m going to buy a copy for my house as well as for the grandparents. I’m also going to explore the additional resources she recommends. Hopefully this be a game changer for our family
Profile Image for Jen.
Author 1 book14 followers
October 20, 2010
You can read my complete review at http://www.laughingatchaos.com. This book is for any parent who has an emotionally intense child. You know, the one you look at pretty much every day and wonder WHAT.THE.HELL? The one who can change mood on a knife's edge, who is just "more," who just doesn't seem to roll with the punches as well as others. Get your hands on this book; it's the one I wish we'd had five years ago.
Profile Image for Megan.
71 reviews
February 19, 2014
Not quite finished with this one, but essentially the author is encouraging parents to use a positive behavior support system in the home - I don't think she called it that, but I definitely felt the suggestions were incredibly similar to what teachers are asked to do in classrooms. Then kids know in advance what expected behaviors are and can relate them to a predetermined acronym. I should probably go back and reread the sections on handling the meltdowns...
Profile Image for Nick.
609 reviews
March 2, 2016
It's like I found the guide book for my son. This Book has a lot of good info in it. There are many conversation examples- that point out where they went wrong and how to fix them. I did skip most of the notes to the teacher sections. Also there are pages of recommended reading on several subjects (anxiety, bullying, dually exceptional etc) at the end. If only I could get my husband to read this!!
Profile Image for Elizabeth Nugent.
63 reviews20 followers
March 3, 2012
This book is really interesting, and I think that some of the techniques will be useful for my daughter. However, some of them seem like an awful lot of work! I sometimes feel like I'm expected to be out in advance of every experience she has, and I just can't do that. Easier for stay-at-home parents, I expect.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 113 reviews

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