by Holger Scharn


In my group I had Paul (Name changed), 4 years old. He was a very intelligent and possibly gifted boy who would again and again find excuses why he couldn’t join the group on an excursion.

Meanwhile Paul’s trust in me had grown to where he would answer my questions honestly and seriously. When I asked him what his concerns were with regard to the trip to the zoo, he responded with a counter question: “But what if I need to go and pee?” And that was it, right there!

This boy, who took pride in his newly acquired skill of doing his business sitting on the toilet stool, was worried about how this could be taken care of while running around at the zoo. He was afraid, he might not be able to master this situation. And he expressed that he would feel rather ashamed of himself if it came to that situation. (Early sense of shame, typical for gifted children.)

In our course we worked out the strategy to turn his deficit into an expertise.

So I went and discussed with him, how the problem could be solved.

We hit upon the idea to telephone the zoo and enquire whether there were toilets at the zoo – there were, one at the entrance and one in the middle of the premises, no more than a few minutes to walk from any spot within the zoo. That seemed to be safe enough for him. The problem of having to go to the toilet while on the bus could be satisfactorily resolved by my promise to remind him of going to the toilet shortly before our departure.

Paul agreed to discuss the toilet-problem during our morning circle, where a little girl spoke up, who had been pondering the same questions.

Of course, I was not shy of explaining the body function of the bladder, so that the children understood, why it was smart to go to the toilet when there wouldn’t be a toilet around for a while to come.

The effect of redefining his deficit as a strength could be reinforced by making him my “security advisor”. Before every excursion we would discuss what had to be kept in mind. And Paul showed that he had already been having quite a few thoughts on it.

For example, he would worry about what would happen if a wound had to be tended to after a child has scratched its knees. At Kindergarten we have a first aid box with band aids for such emergencies. His suggestion was that we take along some band aids when going on a trip.

Furthermore, he was worried about what would happen if a child had a serious accident during the excursion or if it got sick and had to be taken to the hospital immediately. “In the office we have a list with all the parents’ telephone numbers, so that they can be notified and can quickly go to the hospital to see their child.”

We decided to make a photocopy of the list. The security advisor, who at his tender age had already distinguished himself by his great sense of precaution, would carry the list in his pocket.

He gained esteem in the group. Paul was soon to be known as the one with foresight instead of looked at as the scaredy cat. He had come to know that some fears can be overcome by clear consideration and measures of precaution.

He would also tell other children of his deliberations and measures of precaution, and many children showed interest and listened to him.

Today, a few years later, I am still in touch with Paul. That is how I know that in the meantime he has skipped three grades at school, and it was his own decision each time.