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!

What do your gifted children BELIEVE about themselves?

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.

Hi there, Moms!

Someone commented they could not tell who was writing this blog, so I thought I would reintroduce myself. I am Ellen Williams, Ed.D. I retired after 35 years in public education. I taught 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade before I became the gifted and talented coordinator in Cypress Fairbanks ISD in Houston, Texas. Next I moved to Kerrville, TX, which is NW of San Antonio on I-10. I was Senior Director of Advanced Academics there for over 12 years.

I have two kids, a daughter and a son, and four grandkids. I like everything education. I like to talk about motivation, passionate learning, differentiation, and parenting. I often refer to myself as a crone. Since I retired, I worry that I am seen as too old too be relevant. Young teachers might “glaze over” if I walked into their classroom and tried to show them how to do something, but old crones know stuff. They have life experiences that they can share. Think of the 3 witches in Macbeth who predicted 3 things in Act One of Macbeth. Macbeth ignored their warnings, but all three things came true. Those old crones knew stuff too.

I am not a witch and I don’t give warnings, but I do want to offer reassurance to young women who doubt their parenting when dealing with children with high potential. I know stuff. I have 42 years experience in teaching students. I have nearly as many years being a mom and grandmother! I made a lot of mistakes, and I have a lot of success stories to share. My greatest pride are my children and the students who I taught that are now successful adults across Texas and the nation.

I hope to share some of those stories over the next few weeks. No names, no intent to embarrass, but I hope that the stories of bright children and their struggles and triumphs will inspire you to look forward to the future with your children with hope and joy. There is nothing as precious (or as quickly fleeting) as childhood. Don’t let it slip away from you because you were busy worrying about what to do next.

I do suggest you keep a journal, preferably on paper, but online if that is your thing. If you do keep your memories in the cloud, consider printing it out once a year or two. Clouds crash. Electricity goes out. Hurricane  survivors will tell you that paper melts and floats away and backing it up in the cloud is all that  saved their pictures and documents. But part of writing a journal is a tactile experience you cannot get from a keyboard. Pencil or pen on paper works best with your brain according to neuroscience.

Writing by hand makes short term memories go to long term in the brain.  I also think the same things might happen in reverse. The memories come from your brain, down your arm, and onto the page. Or keyboard. One way or another,  write your child’s story down so when they are  grown, they can look back and get your perspective on their story. Your children’s story has two versions- the one they know and the one you remember. Both are precious.

Facebook, photos, and videos always show the positive side of life. Writing gives you the chance to put down the thoughts, the worries, the dreams and the hard work that went on behind all those happy pictures. It makes the story richer.

Here are a couple of journals you might like to use. They are small enough to put in a diaper bag, but are big enough not to get lost between the seats of the minivan. Like I said, I have been there.

Here is another one that is colorful, and has a great message.

Take a Break from Your Circus!

I have been away from the blogging world for over a month. I am still not sure if I am ready to start writing again, but I hope to connect with my readers and start a conversation about peace of mind. My mind seems to be exhausted, short circuited maybe, frazzled for sure. I do not feel mentally sharp or shiny. So I hope you will write me and talk to me about how you get reconnected with your purpose and your passion. My passion is gifted children. But lately, the Twitter/Facebook/Instagram feeds about gifted children going back to school seemed overwhelming. I honestly felt like the conversation has turned into a roar.

As a gifted child mom, do you ever want to step away from your gifted child’s needs and just take care of yourself? Can you stop the worry, the pressure, the advocacy and just “be”?

Different personalities deal with emotional stress in different ways. It is not about intelligence. I need silence at times to recharge. A darkened room and silence helps to calm my mind. Others need music, or to be out at a concert or club so they can disappear anonymously into a crowd.

I like social media, but too much exposure is depressing to me. I start worrying about problems that are not mine. I like to remember the meme I saw that said, “Not my monkeys. Not my circus.” As a gifted child mom, you may feel like the ringmaster in your family circus, trying to keep all the acts running smoothly. If you do, remember that self care is necessary to keep the show going. You may feel like if you crash, the whole tent will collapse. Prevent that from happening.

If you have a husband, partner, parent, or friend, don’t resist asking for help. Say, “I need two hours to myself. Will you please…(insert the appropriate phrase: run the car pool, do the laundry/dishes/vacuum/homework, buy the groceries). Then do whatever you need to quiet your mind. Meditate, sleep, go for a walk, go to Target, (whatever) so you can stop thinking. Two hours of peace can recharge you enough to make it to the next act in YOUR circus. Have a good weekend.