Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students by Christine Fonseca

Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students


Christine Fonseca

Back cover:  Designed to provide support for the difficult job of parenting and teaching gifted children, Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students: Helping Kids Cope with Explosive Feelings provides the resource parents and teachers need to not only understand why gifted children are so extreme in their behavior, but also learn specific strategies to teach gifted children how to live with their intensity.

Presented in a an easy-to-read, conversational style, Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students uses real world examples through case studies and role plays that show parents and teachers how to interact with gifted children in a way that teaches them how to recognize, monitor, and adjust their behavior.  Worksheets, tips sheets, and checklists are included to help parents, teachers, and the students themselves learn to cope with the explosive feelings that often accompany giftedness.  Specific strategies for stress management, under performance in school, perfectionism, and social anxiety make this a must-read for anyone wishing to make a positive lasting impact on the lives of gifted children.

If you have an emotionally intense child, gifted or dually exceptional this is a book for you.   When James was born, he was the guest of the NICU for a few days and the nurses all told me - he goes from 0 to 60 in one second. Good luck!   Yes he is a spirited child and I've read every book out there imaginable.  For the longest time, Raising your Spirited Child was my bible - very well thumbed, revisited time and again.  When you have a perfectionist child that is all the mores - intense, sensitive, persistent, and perceptive, life is challenging. Not only for them, but you.

So you can guess how excited I was last year when Christine started talking about her new book - Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students.  Aha - something specifically related to gifted kids and their emotions.

Part 1 begins with What it really means to be Gifted.  There are three cases studies in which we are introduced to three gifted students: Andrew, Meredith and Emily.  Christine dives into the intellectual characteristics, personality traits and emotional characteristics of giftedness.  And how those characteristics jive with school, peer relationships and emotions.   Plus throw in gifted children intensity, their temperament, introverts versus extroverts and those who are twice blessed.   One particular part stood out for me since we deal with this almost every day.

"Another aspect of emotional intensity lies in a strong affective memory.  This refers to a memory of not just the events of a situation, but the feelings associated with the event as well.  Gifted children often will relive the feelings of significant moments in their lives, such as a move, or the loss of a pet, over and over again.  Strong attachments to people and things coupled with their strong memory often can make transitions very difficult."  pg 38

Both James and my husband John are gifted, so they tend to hang on to things and revisit the past  and try to figure out things.  James has a memory of an elephant though and will come to me and say for example:  "Mom, on September 5, 2003 you said (fill in the blank), what did you mean by that?"        Wait...what?  Mom's brain explodes once again as try to remember the situation. 

Which brings us to part 2 is Great Information, But Now What?    Worksheets!!! There are some wonderful worksheets in the book that will aid you.   How do you coach your child?  Do you know what your expectations are as a family, for yourself, for your child.   Does your child know what your expectations are, the consequences for his/her behavior and what the boundaries are.  Do you or your child know how you will react in certain circumstances.  We are currently working on the worksheets so will have to let you know how things work out there.

Christine provides some great advice for dealing with explosions.    How do you get your child to recognize that they are spiraling up or going to blow - both their emotional and physical feelings.   What do you do when they explode and how do you deal with it afterwords.   What are your hot button issues?  She also provides strategies for how teachers can handle explosions, coach their gifted students and deal with a whole classroom of kids as well.

Part 3 Being your Child's Coach-Specific Strategies.  I was raised by a very strict mom and military dad, so no talking back, no yelling, period. Very authoritative.  Unfortunately the authoritative style and "because I said so" doesn't work with my kid.   And for a period of time there, I turned into a yeller.  And it's hard to impress upon your child that his yelling and using the wrong tone of voice is wrong, when you are doing exactly that. The only thing it was teaching is that yelling was okay.Which brings us to the strategies for a good coach:  modeling, prompting, cueing, reflection and debriefing.

Christine says:

Parents are in a great position to act as coaches to their child, teaching everything from understanding the unique characteristics of giftedness, to coping strategies, to managing the intensity that comes with being gifted.  (pg 125)
With gifted children facilitated learning particularly is effective because it makes use of their superior logic skills as an avenue to retrain their emotional responses.  Furthermore, it helps the child learn to become more aware of why he makes the decisions he makes and deliberately choose a new response--definitely a win-win for everyone involved. (pg 131)
You can't tell your gifted child how to act, you have to teach them how to act. You can't fix them, because they aren't broken. They are unique and one of a kind.  Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students is a wonderful book full of tips, strategies, worksheets, a sample dialogues with kids on how to coach them.  I highly recommend it.  It will become your new bible on how to help your gifted child. Be prepared - this is one book you will read over and over again.  Plus you'll want to have your yellow (or color of your choice) highlighter with you because you'll find plenty of things you want to remember.   Buy it for yourself, your best friend, your child's teacher or school principal.  I highly recommend it. 

Christine is having a special giveaway: She will draw a random winner from all commenters throughout the tour AND the reviews. Contest ends Sunday at midnight, and she will announce the winner on Monday, 10/18. The winner gets book swag consisting of a t-shirt, bookmarks, magazines, notepads, sticky notes, and a signed copy of the book.

To find out more about Christine and her book, check out the following links.


Thank you to Christine for not only writing the book, but also providing me with a courtesy copy as well.  


  1. Wow. No need to enter me in the giveaway (I don't have kids), but I am definitely keeping this one in mind for friends and relatives if the need arises. It does sound like a great resource.

  2. Clicked over from Christine's facebook author page. Great review. I need to get a copy to help with my intense 5yo!

  3. Great review! Wow - so thorough! I'm looking forward to this book!

  4. Sounds great, thanks.


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