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:

Want your children to succeed? Then dial back on trying to “rescue” them.

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.

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.

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.