After several requests, I have set up a parenting service for parents who need advice that is personalized for their child. You can hire me here: www.fiverr.com/williamsed/give-you-the-best-parenting-advice-for-raising-children
It is that time of year again. Back to school puts children through a lot of emotions. Some of them can be intense. Anxiety for mothers is also a real problem this time of year. There are financial worries about new clothes and supplies, but the highest anxiety often comes from worrying about your child’s new teacher. Will the teacher be too strict, too lenient, or heaven forbid, not a good teacher at all? Some studies show that children that endure a year with a poor quality teacher in first, second, or third grade have gaps in their learning that can impact their achievement in middle school and beyond.
Teacher turnover causes parents to worry that the “new” teacher may not have the skills to teach their child well. Some studies show that in this age of accountability, rigorous evaluations can weed out weaker teachers, allowing the principal to bring in better or more enthusiastic teachers. Read one related study here: https://www.nber.org/papers/w21922.pdf
Gifted children may continue to make straight A’s with a teacher that has not been trained on meeting their academic needs, but over time, without proper differentiation, the compliant gifted child may give up their thirst for knowledge and by third grade, be on the same level as an average ability child. Even worse, a gifted child with a stronger, more dominant personality may become a behavior problem when they are not challenged. An unruly gifted child that is challenged in their area of interest is often so engaged in learning that the behavior problems seem to disappear. Here is a research article about gifted children and behavior: http://www.k12accountability.org/resources/Gifted-Education/Fully-developing-the-potential-of-academically-advanced-students.pdf
Even more than finding the right teacher, resilience in gifted children is impacted by the family in which it is raised. Read a really good study about the impact of the family on the academic, social and emotional development if a gifted child here: https://diginole.lib.fsu.edu/islandora/object/fsu:405985/datastream/PDF/view.
If you are interested in reducing your anxiety as a gifted child mom, you may want to keep a journal that tracks your parenting and your child’s gifted milestones. Reflecting on your parenting strategies and reading current research can help you consciously adjust the way you interact with your child, hopefully reducing both your child’s and your own anxiety. You can get one here!
Start the school year off right and keep your anxiety in check for your own happiness and your child’s well being.
After this weekend’s shootings, many parents are wondering how or if they should try to explain the impossible- why do gunmen shoot people? For children with high anxiety or are highly empathetic, hearing that a child died in El Paso can trigger fear. They may not want to go shopping for back to school at all.
An interesting Twitter discussion I read this morning emphasized that the news media calls white shooters mentally disturbed, but “brown” shooter are terrorists, and black shooters are gang members or are probably drug users
I also found this chart that indicates that mass shooting 1.) should not just be the random ones, but any shooting, however motivates, that occurs with 4 or more victims, and 2.) defy racial or religious classification.
Although I have recommended it before, please consider reading this excellent book about strategies to deal with angry or violent children. If you are a teacher or a parent, it is a helpful resource. The book can also be bought directly from aha! Process, here: https://www.ahaprocess.com/store/emotional-poverty-book/ .
The best advice I can give you is to listen to your children, be empathetic without enabling their fears, and hug them. Telling children you love them is the most powerful thing you can do to reduce their anxiety.
Do you have a child 8-18 who has trouble telling you what she/he thinks? Is your child going through the stage where he is trying to decide how he feels about different things? If your child can write in sentence, a journal may be an appropriate gift. This journal has guided prompts to respond to such as, ” Of what are you the most afraid?” Or “What makes you feel proud? It asks a lot of “why” questions, prompting your child to elaborate.
If your child hates to write, this journal won’t make him/her want to write. If they like to write, this can be a helpful place to put their thoughts and ideas on paper.
Brain science shows that you remember what you write on paper better than what you type on a keyboard. Give a journal as a gift that will be developmentally helpful for the gifted kid who is figuring things out. You can buy it here! Just click on the picture.
As a gifted child mom, I know how much you want to provide every opportunity for your bright children. They may learn quickly and with little repetition. They may be artistic or play a musical instrument before they even started school.
But ask yourself honestly. Do you let your children struggle and persist? If they stumble on a word or a math problem, how quick do you jump in with the answer? I am admitting, this is my greatest weakness as a parent and as a teacher. I always wanted to help too much.
This week, I babysat my grandchildren. We had a new 48 piece puzzle of the Avengers. I tore open the package and explained that with so many pieces, it would help to find the edges and do them first. I fumbled around and put 3-4 pieces together before I had to leave the table and help my two year old grand daughter with her baby doll across the room. I was only across the room a few minutes, but when I came back to the table, the 5 year old sat there, with a perfectly completed puzzle. It was the look on his face- the sense of accomplishment- his calm and satisfied look that reminded me- it was his puzzle to solve, not mine.
My daughter says he is really good at puzzles. I am not. I need the edges to form a frame before I can figure out how the puzzle goes together. That did not mean that he needed that strategy. His visual perception of patterns and colors helped him put the puzzle together much faster than he would have with my help.
Children develop what teachers call “learned helplessness”. If we interfere too much, they will let you do everything for them. You doing it yourself seems to make you happy, and children want to please their moms.
A curious child may give up that curiosity if you are the one who always solves the problem. Why try? Even worse, what if your highly sensitive gifted child perceives your help as being somehow because you think he/she is not smart/good/clever enough to do it on his or her own?
Whether it is a 5 year old with a puzzle, or a 12 year trying to balance an Algebraic equation, help by asking questions rather than finding the answer yourself. Allow think time. Count to 15 after you ask a question to give the child time to think and answer. Help your child if they ask, but usually the help they want is your attention and reassurance that they can be successful, not the actual answer.
You will be a better gifted child mom if you help your child persist and build his/her problem solving skills instead of making things too easy.
I am amazed at how hard Moms work to give their children the most memorable of birthday gifts and parties. For previous generations, gifts were fewer and farther between. Often it was ONE gift, not the entire Amazon toy section.
My father was born in 1915. When he was 4, he and his brother, who was 9, received an extravagant gift for the time, a Victrola. It was such a big deal, an article in the local newspaper was written about it. The boys and their friends were delighted at the music that played when the big discs were put on the turntable and the handle was turned. That Victrola was always in my parents house until my father died in 2014, when he was 99. Now it sits in my brother’s home. It is a reminder of a simpler time. It still plays. Going through his things, I found a copy of the newspaper article about this amazing, extravagant gift that my father had kept. The Victrola was a gift that has lasted over 100 years. Do your children even remember what you bought them last year?
I have told my children not to buy me any more “stuff”. I would rather be taken out to dinner, or get to spend time with them and my grandchildren at 64. If I need clothes or appliances, I just click on Amazon and boom. I am gifted.
This year I decided to give myself the gift of accomplishment. This year and every year, I want to accomplish something that I will be proud of for years to come. I want to learn how to do something new or create something that may help others in some way.
I wrote a children’s phonics book. It isn’t the book that is the real gift. It is the gift of learning how to use Kindle Direct Publishing that is the gift. It is to take the risk, going out on a limb, and hiring an illustrator. It is the rush of writing and editing and rewriting it, hoping that my grandchildren would enjoy seeing a book that Nana wrote. All of you young Gifted Child Moms out there, challenge yourself to continue to learn new things and create, even if you do not see yourself as a creative type.
Stuff is not what is important. When your children are grown, they will not remember the party, the colorful molded plastic action hero, doll, or push toy you bought them. What they will remember is the time you gave them your undivided attention. You need to do the same thing with yourself. Give yourself your undivided attention and build YOUR brain. Be proud of yourself. Accomplish something. It is the best gift you can give yourself and your children. Give yourself the gift of accomplishment. It always is the right size and does not have to be returned. It is appropriate though, to share.
By the way, it really is my 64th birthday today! Happy Birthday to me and my book.
Thanks for sharing with anyone you know with young children who are just starting to read. There is a kindle version, too, but it is a separate listing, because I am still learning. I haven’t figure out how to make it one of two format options yet. Keep learning!
What do your children believe about themselves? Regardless of what they are told, self-image is created from within. It is a product of all the comments ever made by parents, friends, and outside “influencers”, but in some children, regardless of what the outside world tells them, their own brain tells them they are not really that smart, not really that funny, not really very capable.
Self image is the most powerful perspective anyone can have. Without a positive one, people are unable achieve their “future story,” the dream they have for themselves.
Did you know some children are unable to imagine themselves as an adult? Dr. Ruby Payne, a writer and educational consultant, says that children who live in a culture of deprivation and poverty sometimes see their adult future as one in which they will either be in prison, homeless, or dead. If all they know of the adult world is a parent who was arrested, an uncle who was on the street due to drug addiction, or a sibling dead due to gun violence, they see that scenario as their only future. When asked what they want to be when they grow up, they may not know what to say, except “Alive”.
I believe that even in the poorest neighborhoods and in the most gang infested, violent cities in America, there are many children who believe they can write their own future story and, as Oprah says, “live their best life.” That bulletproof self-image depends on their ability to visualize a life they have never seen. They can do it if they have a positive role model to follow. It might be a parent, an older sibling, or even a teacher who believes in them. The number one external influence on a child’s self-image is a relationship with someone they believe cares about them.
Mental health and emotional maturity can both alter a child’s self-image. Sometimes it is a chemical imbalance that makes a child not believe they are good enough. The right balance of the hormones serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins can greatly effect a child’s self-image and feelings of happiness. For adolescents, the impact of social media can make a child with a healthy self-image doubt their own abilities. So what can a mom do to help their gifted child feel good about themselves?
I tend to give advice in threes. First, love your child unconditionally. Whether they are good or bad, make mistakes or always have perfect grades, kids have to know your love for them is unwavering. There are times you should discipline or correct a child, but don’t let those times ever make he or she doubt your love for them. A good mom is one that says “What you did was a bad choice, and there is a consequence for that choice, but I know you can do better next time.” Believe in them.
Second, don’t let the TV or IPad be the babysitter or a major influence on their self-image. Electronics may distract children and keep them quiet, but it negatively impacts their language development compared to live two way conversation with other humans, especially nurturing adults. For self-image purposes, TV and video games may negatively imprint a child with sexualized images of women or violent stereotypes of men. You want your child to aspire to be a strong, independent thinker, but not a superhero that violently erupts like the HULK. Positive self-image is built by letting children explore their environment and find success at real world tasks.
Being independent and able to care for themselves and their surroundings builds a capable and competent self-image. If they are big enough, do they know how to vacuum the floor, take out the trash, fold their clothes and put them away? If you do everything for them, when are they going to feel “big”?
Third: Ask yourself this question: Are you raising a capable child that can do things on his or her own? If your child acts like an entitled brat and expects you to do everything for them, it is possible that instead of believing that he or she is entitled, that they actually feel unsure of what to do. If he or she has never done something on their own, they don’t know how to do it right.
Initially, instead of saying “Get your own drink of water”, you have to say “Let me show you how to fill a glass with water without spilling it.” Have cups at a height they can reach. Show your child how to turn on the faucet or pour a pitcher that is a size that he or she can lift.
Help your child be successful and then he or she will do it on their own without bugging you to do it for them. The best part is that that task becomes a part of a competent, capable self-image. Your gift child will become independent and successful when he or she BELIEVES it about themselves. Success builds a positive self-image more than words from outside influencers. Give them those experiences. so that their self-image is strong and capable.