A Gifted Child Mom Journal

Do you keep a journal? Many moms keep a journal to track their own diet, business, or mental awareness goals. Journals are available online as well as in handy little hard copies to slip into your purse or diaper bag. Mom journals become the inspiration for new businesses, a diary of their hopes and dreams, and a documentation method for different parts of their busy lives.

Research studies are proving that you remember more when you write on paper rather than on an electronic device. No, really! Read one study for elementary age children here: http://iranarze.ir/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/E3172.pdf .

Here is a study on adults: https://s3.amazonaws.com/academia.edu.documents/39983829/Sociological_insights_on_the_comparison_20151113-12886-s9zabv.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAIWOWYYGZ2Y53UL3A&Expires=1541983482&Signature=ZRIFePl4akqYcVfugGSPR8UxNRo%3D&response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%3DSociological_insights_on_the_comparison.pdf

If the hyperlink doesn’t work, just copy and paste it in your browser. I don’t recommend things that are not backed by science.

I just published a guided journal for gifted child moms. It is a guided journal, which means it has some prompts to guide your thinking about how you nurture your gifted child’s intellectual and emotional development. In addition, it has some recommended reading on parenting gifted children. It has a list of books and a list of blogs. My hope is that you will read and reflect on your own parenting style. Write down your child’s behaviors and issues and how you dealt with them. Notice which strategies worked best, and which recommended strategies were not successful with your child. My hope is that it will make you a better Gifted Child Mom. You can buy a copy of it here:

Give Yourself a Birthday Gift!

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.

Click on the picture below to order this 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!

Can you be Happy and be a Gifted Child Mom?

Do you watch Ted Talks on YouTube? If not, they are wonderful lectures on many subjects, including parenting. I watched one today I wanted to share with you: Happiness is a very high bar

Once upon a time, we expected our children to work by our side, whether in a factory or on the farm, and help the family survive. That changed at the end of the industrial revolution and we sent our children to school.  School became their job. We expected children to do well in school. Now middle class parents have put expectations on their children’s success in extra curricular activities.

Success in sports competitions has become the new job we pressure children to master. The pressure we put on them is the pressure we put on ourselves. Be sure to watch the video to hear how the speaker deals with expectations. It will make you feel better.

I never thought about the pressure Moms put on themselves when my children were young. I was too busy and too tired. Moms are usually the ones who sit with the kids to help with homework. Mom is the one that drives to soccer, baseball, scouts, and piano lessons. Many Dads do the sport things and carpooling, but I don’t know if Dads feel the same pressure. Dads can write their own blog.

On top of the usual parenting expectations set by the media and in popular baby manuals, consider that you have to multiply it by the factor of Giftedness. The expectations become both higher and heavier.

Gifted Child Moms worry that they are not enriching their children enough. They worry if their child is an emotionally immature, but intellectually brilliant child who cries when he/she has to go out to recess because he/she wants to keep reading a favorite book. The more you worry, the unhappy you feel.

How can you be a HAPPY gifted child mom? Best advice is get off social media. Your house will never look like Pinterest. Your friends’ Facebook pictures will always look happier than you feel. Quit thinking you have to be more to be a good Gifted Child Mom. Instead, do less.

Plan less. If your children are under ten, try this. When your children comes home from school, instead of rushing off to lessons or play dates, do 3 things:

1. Have them sit down with you and talk with you. Don’t be on your cell phone while they are talking. Listen. Look right in their eyes and see what they are NOT saying. Do they seem happy? Sad? Worried? Tired?

2. While they are talking, give them something to drink and eat. Did you know that children think the most clearly 10 minutes after they drink 8 ounces of water? A hydrated brain is a smarter, better functioning brain. They will talk more.

3. After at least ten full minutes of interacting with your children without any interfering technology (no TV, IPad, phone for any of you) and a snack, ask about homework. If they say “Nothing” or “I did it on the bus”, ask to see it. Reviewing homework lets you see if it correct, complete, and legible. It shows you care about homework being done and done well. If they really don’t have homework to do or do over, congratulate them and sit down WITH them and read. For little kids, read picture books together for 15-20 minutes. Grade-schoolers who can read independently should read 15-30 minutes. While they are reading, you should sit down and read silently too. No washing dishes, no talking on the phone, just sit and read. You are modeling the love of reading. They will emotionally connect the love of reading with the love of being with you.

If they are resistant to reading alone, read aloud WITH them. “I read a page, you read a page” is a great way to lessen the stress and share an experience. Trust me, reading together and talking about what you read helps build both comprehension and vocabulary. Having this two-way conversation with your gifted children, you will start to feel…happy. All together, this should only take about an hour of time.

Enjoy your children. At every age, there are magic moments that if you are busy worrying or running around, and you will miss the magic.

If you think, “Well, soccer is at 4 on Tuesday-Thursday and the other kid has brownies on Wednesday, and, and, and…take just one week off from everything extra curricular, like you would do if they were sick. For five days, do just 3 things- talk, have a snack together, read together. It is one hour. At the end of five days, see if you feel happier and less stressed. You may want to go back to lessons and practice, which is fine, but anytime you are overwhelmed, take a break and just be a mom with your child. Take an hour and interact. In a year, the few lessons you skipped won’t matter at all.

What you will remember is the hour you and your children interacted and read together, not the hour you spent in the car on the way to practice. Be happy.

The Slightest Scratch Cuts to the Bone

All children feel sadness and pain, but the really bright ones may seem especially intense or sensitive. A young child  may wail and have a meltdown over not getting their way, but a gifted child of any age may have a meltdown about things that are experienced less intensely by most people. They can be especially vulnerable to anxiety about things most children “tune out”, such as politics, natural disasters, or war. Addressing their fears and validating their feelings without enabling their extreme behavioral responses, is a tough tightrope to walk.

Parents can help their children in several ways. First, limit young children’s exposure to television. The news and reality based programs often are presented in a style that sensationalizes graphic violence or content. Children can become overwhelmed emotionally by images they see but do not understand.

If your children are upset or have nightmares about something they saw in a movie or on TV, be sure you spend time comforting and above all, listen to them. Don’t dismiss their feelings. Don’t say “Oh, don’t be silly!” or trivialize their feelings. By dismissing their feelings, you are implying that the children themselves are not important. Ask questions. Why are they afraid or upset? What did they see that made them sad or scared? How did it make them feel? Listening is the best gift you can give them to overcome extreme emotions. Gifted children need to believe that someone is listening and understands them.

There are several calming techniques that can help calm a scared or angry child. Dr. Ruby Payne, in her new book, Emotional Poverty (2018), recommends several different calming strategies that can really help. Her term, Emotional Poverty, is not a clinical diagnosis, but a term she uses to describe children of any age that feel “less than or apart from” others in a group, such as a classroom or even in a family. It is a life-changing read. You can buy it here: https://www.ahaprocess.com/store/emotional-poverty-book/

Ruby recommends several calming techniques to help children overcome emotional outbursts. One technique is tapping. Many therapists use tapping to help distract the brain and calm down feelings of sadness, anger, or fear. As Ruby says, “It is easy to do, and it can’t hurt you!”

There is a picture book for children about tapping:

My grandson memorized the spots to tap in one reading and liked the idea of being able to distract himself and overcome his emotional meltdowns.

If you want to read an adult book about how it works for adults or children of any age, you might like this book:

Tapping is certainly not the only technique to help children understand and ultimately be able to control their emotions appropriately. Sitting quietly and holding the hand of a raging child can be very calming. Human touch is soothing. Trying to rationalize seldom does anything but make them even madder. A reference book of different techniques is good for any family. Try this one:

Intense emotions is actually a characteristic of giftedness. Learning to manage them is a part of a mom’s job. Validate their feelings, actively listen, ask questions to help guide them through their thinking. Help your children decide what the best options are to solve the problem, or if it is a problem that cannot be solved, how to live with it.

An example of a problem that can be solved is: “The boy on the playground called me names. It hurt my feelings.” The best response a mom can give is to help the child understand that this kind of interaction by a bully is about power. A person who calls others names feels insecure about himself. If his words hurts your child, it gives him power. Learning to say, “OK, so what?” and walking away to find another friend to play with solves the problem. Staying in the conversation and trying to defend himself/herself that he/she is NOT …(an idiot, stupid, a loser, whatever) feeds the bully’s power.

An example of a problem that can’t be solved by a child is world hunger or a hurricane destroying a home. Your child can’t fix it, but they can learn what actions they can take to help others. I know a boy who likes to say, “This is the worst day ever!” when he doesn’t get his way. Telling him that he is fed, healthy, and actually spoiled rotten is not going to change his feelings. Doing something nice for someone else- something thoughtful and selfless, gets his mind off his own desires and actually will help him feel better. It is an easy distraction technique but at the same time, it is teaching the value of service. So go get your raging child, make a batch of cookies with him/her, and take them to someone who is in worse shape than your child and help them learn to get over their emotional outbursts by focusing their mental energy on something positive and selfless. It works.

 

Are you an exhausted gifted child mom?

As a mom and grandmother of gifted children, I understand if you feel overwhelmed by parenting a child with high potential. Bright children seem to also be emotionally extreme, either timid and introverted, or explosive with bouts of great anger or great joy. How you react to their emotional state can determine whether or not they can learn to self-regulate their moods.

Children learn to regulate their feelings as well as their actions as they mature. The more self-reliant and confident they are, the more likely it is that children will develop the traits that will help them be successful. Many moms of children with high potential worry that their children are too “different” from other children. They may be intellectually advanced, but emotionally immature. When children are emotional and intense,  moms may try to intervene when they struggle to avoid a tearful breakdown.  In trying to rescue the child for emotional reasons, you may actually be keeping them from developing certain traits that can only come from working hard at something that requires practice and intense focus.

One of the unintended traits your bright children may develop, regardless of their personality, is called Learned Helplessness. It is where they give up easily and don’t finish something, saying it is too hard or takes too long. If you give them assistance too often or let them stop before they finish something, they are not developing persistence.

Persistence is the key quality that helps gifted children successful. Several experts, including Dr. Joyce Juntune at Texas A&M, and Dr. Joseph Renzulli at the University of Connecticut see a triad of traits that successful gifted kids possess. Intelligence (ability), creativity, and task commitment (persistence) make up the triad. Someone who is not as smart, but has persistence, may be more successful in school and life in general that a highly gifted child that cannot stick to something and complete it.

Ever know an absent-minded professor kind of kid? Children may be super smart, but if they are thinking about many different things, all  at the same time, you may notice them in the middle of doing one thing and wander off to do something else. Most children do this, especially a two or three-year old. If he or she pays attention to anything for ten minutes, they are super focused. But school-aged children who never finish tasks or cannot start them (because they can’t decide among several different choices of what to do) may be misdiagnosed as having attention deficit disorder. Misdiagnosis is a common problem for gifted children who do not have persistence. The leading expert in this field is Dr. James Webb. Read this book to get more information about misdiagnosis.

If your child doesn’t know what you mean about persistence, or grit, there are a few good books you can use to set an example. Read these with or to your child:

My grandkids love this book:


You also can use your WORDS to encourage persistence. Instead of letting your children say the can’t or don’t know how to do something, encourage them to add the word  “yet” to their sentence. They “don’t know how to do it YET.” It works on their mental image of the task as something that can be achieved instead of something that is impossible.

I love this book.  Persistence is a necessary tool of inventive minds and this biography is a true story that will inspire children to become inventors themselves.

So what does persistence have to do with you being exhausted? A LOT! If your bright children learns to persist on homework, sports, and on projects, there is less time available for them to bug you whining that “they can’t do it” or saying, “MOM! I’m bored!”

Seriously. All those questions are exhausting. So spend some time teaching your child to work on something for two minutes, three minutes, eventually ten minutes before they ask for help. Eventually, they will only ask for help when they truly are stumped and need you. Get some rest, mom. Your bright child is on his or her way to becoming an independent, confident young adult. Model persistence in things you do. The gifted child will be aware of your example and will more likely want to make you proud of them by being persistent and completing the things they are doing, too.

 

Being a Leader but Not a Dictator

The brightest minds are not always the most compassionate or caring among us. Children who think quickly and draw conclusions that generally are accurate may believe that their answer will always be seen as the best option available. The problem is, in cooperative learning situations, where compromise is necessary and there may be multiple methods to solve a problem, the gifted child may display anger and frustration if his or her solution is rejected.

Ruby Payne, author of an really eye-opening book called Emotional Poverty (2018), https://www.ahaprocess.com/store/emotional-poverty-book/  explains that the brain responds to emotions many times faster than it does to reason. As  children mature, their prefrontal cortex will begin to regulate the limbic system and its emotional responses to stimuli in the environment. They don’t have the “melt-downs” they had at two if they learn that throwing a fit doesn’t get them what they want.

No matter how brilliant your child is, he or she will respond to feelings faster than he or she will understand why a decision was made. I remind you, Mom, that you are training a brain in addition to raising a child. One of the things children have to learn is that there is more than one way to do something and the way they want to do it may not be the only way, or even the best way. Here is a good book to help you train that child’s brain:

You want your child to be a natural leader? Remember, a leader is someone who has the ability to inspire others to follow them. A good leader can trigger a positive emotional response in others.  People like leaders. They trust leaders. It rarely is intelligence that inspires that admiration and trust. It is a kind of charisma, a likeability, that makes others want to be with the leader.

If your child is a domineering personality and tries to force others to do things his way, if he or she is bossy and demanding, they are not being a leader. They are becoming a dictator. Gender bias causes girls who have leadership ability to often be seen as bossy. This book is an interesting read for parents of bright girls:

You may wonder if highly gifted children can also be leaders. The rare, highly creative gifted child is less likely to fit society’s mold of acceptable leadership traits. These personalities may appear more dictatorial, and prefer to work alone rather than be part of a collaborative team. You are not raising a child in a bubble, even if you home school them. An introverted child or a child that is resistant to group dynamics can still be highly successful and creative. With your help, Mom, they can be effective leaders as well. Here are some inspirational examples of leaders whose leadership styles fell outside the norm:

Helping your child reach their potential, whether academically, socially, or as a leader is not an easy accomplishment. There is not one trick that works for every child. What I know from my experience as a mom, grandmother, and educator is that the social and emotional part of parenting is even more important to children’s future success than their academic enrichment. A child that is confident and secure is more likely to become a leader than one that is insecure. A gifted child can act like a dictator because he or she feels threatened by the popularity of another child. They may try to force others to like them, which is seldom a successful strategy.

I think this book is a good all around resource for helping your bright child develop a positive self image. Reading it and following its recommendations may help your child become a good leader.

I encourage you to comment or email me at DrEllen@williamsed.com if you would like to discuss how I can help you parent your gifted child. Have a great 4th of July!

Welcome parents of gifted children!

Hey there! If you found this blog, it is probably because you were searching for answers to parenting questions that most blogs or websites don’t address. If you have a child that has a surprisingly creative streak, an above average vocabulary, and prefers adults or older acquaintances to playing with his or her own peers, than this is the right place for you.

I am writing this blog in an attempt to provide some answers to parenting questions related to raising a gifted child. Maybe they are in public school, but complain that school is too boring or easy. Perhaps you are trying to homeschool, but are frustrated by the demands and responsibility of teaching your child yourself. Regardless of how they are being educated, are you worried that you as a parent are either too lenient, too strict, too pushy, or too accommodating to satisfy your child’s insatiable curiosity and love of learning? I hope I can provide some guidance and resources that you will find useful.

I am not concerned with formal labels. After 15 years as a GT (gifted and talented) coordinator, I know that there are children who qualified for gifted programs in schools that looked at their standardized test scores and saw giftedness that was nurtured by a privileged home environment. I also know that there are children who had equal potential, but were overlooked because the system could not “see” that their potential was being masked by cultural, racial, or economic bias. What I care about is that every child, including your child, reaches their own true potential according to their individual ability.

This is the right blog if you stayed up last night worrying about how to help your brilliant child:

  • Get organized
  • Fit in socially
  • Learn to listen to others
  • Be a good leader, but not a dictator
  • Be persistent
  • Set goals and plan how to reach them
  • Appropriately express and handle their emotions
  • Understand and value themselves
  • Respect others around them
  • Be a socially responsible global citizen

You can sign up to get an email each time I post, or follow me on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!

On Pinterest, I have a board called “Gifted Kid Stuff” with lots of resources for K-12 students. https://www.pinterest.com/mew11016/gifted-school-stuff/
I share many posts for teachers and parents on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WilliamsEducationalConsulting

On Twitter I tweet and retweet many articles related to GT education, and my book, Removing the Mask, Identifying and Developing Giftedness in students from Poverty, 3rd edition. : https://twitter.com/ellen3610
If you are interested in the book, you can buy it here! https://www.ahaprocess.com/store/removing-the-mask/

Check back soon for my next post on Bullet #1- Getting Organized

Thanks for joining me on this adventure. Ellen Williams, Ed.D.