The Social Scene at School: 5 Tips to Help Your Gifted Children

Portrait of smiling little school kids in school corridor
Portrait of smiling little school kids in school corridor

Back to school means a lot of things to a lot of people. For some of our gifted kiddos, it means back to the social grind. Many of our gifted children struggle when it comes to making friends. The five tips below can help your gifted children feel more comfortable in the social aspects of their lives:

Healthy Habits: Start off on the right foot by making sure the child is practicing healthy habits that include the following:

  • Rest – no one functions well on little sleep, and while many gifted children need less sleep, it is important that they develop healthy sleep habits
  • Eat well – well-balanced meals are the key.
  • Exercise and relaxation – both are needed in a healthy, well-balanced life
  • Playtime – gifted children are often very serious. Building in playtime, preferably with others, can help provide much-needed balance

Perspective: Teach children how to discern between the things within his control versus those things outside of his control. The Hula Hoop technique can help:

  • Imagine there is a hula hoop on the ground and step into it
  • Everything outside of the hula hoop you have NO control over
  • Everything inside of the hula hoop you have 100% control over
  • The next time you are angry or upset think about the hula hoop. Is this something you have control over, something you can change? If so, make the needed changes. If not, let it go. There is little you can do anyway.

Temperament: Learn the difference between introverts and extroverts (my post earlier this month may help) and help your child determine which one is true for them. This can help in determining the cause and solution for potential problems with peer interactions

Intensities: Help your child deal with their intensities. Here are a few specific strategies to help:

  • Teach children that their feelings are a normal part of his personality.
  • Build activity into the day.
  • Teach relaxation techniques.
  • Allow for creative thinking and creative outlets.

Social Skills: Teach your children these five success tips from 101 Success Secrets for Gifted Kids (Prufrock Press):

  • You don’t always have to be right.
  • Be a problem solver, not a problem maker
  • Never try to hide your giftedness to make friends – it won’t work anyway
  • Accept yourself and others as you are
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously

These tips will begin to help your children develop the social skills needed to develop healthy peer relationships at school and beyond.


Back to School Pop Quiz


Welcome back to school, everyone! So good to see so many bright and shiny faces! I know we’re going to have a wonderful year, and I can’t wait to get to know all of you.

But first, please take out a Number 2 pencil, put your devices in the Bowl of Integrity on my desk (yes, just like at Trivia Night at the local watering hole), and strap on your thinking caps. It’s a Back to School Pop Quiz!

  1. I am excited to be back to school. T/F
  2. The one thing I am most looking forward to this year is:
    1. Learning all there is to know
    2. Discovering this year’s fundraiser
    3. The new cocktails I’ll concoct to survive the year
    4. Summer Break 2017
  3. The one thing I am most dreading this year is:
    1. Homework and the accompanying battles
    2. This year’s fundraiser
    3. The After-Schooling to feed my child’s insatiable brain-maw.
    4. The second and third jobs I’ll need for #2 and #3.
  4. If Wilson is traveling west on a scooter going 10 mph and Minerva is traveling south on a hovercraft going slightly faster than it takes for a watched pot to boil, what are the pink elephants drinking when they show up at the inevitable meeting we’re going to have about your child? Bonus points for naming the song playing on the ISS at the time, including artist and language.
  5. Please diagram this sentence: Your twice-exceptional child does not test well enough to meet the qualifications for the gifted program at this school; too bad, so sad.
  6. Fill in the blanks:
    This year, I hope my child ___________ and ______________, despite the _________ and the __________. I know the _____________ can be a real ____________, but it’s really in the best interests of the _____________. Ultimately, it’s the _________________’s responsibility that ________________ gets a fair and appropriate education, and _____________, _______________, and ________________ should do well to remember that. ___________ _____________ ____________ ______________ _____________ _______  _____________ _______________ ____ __ ____________ _______________ _________!!!
  7. Are you a robot? Please type what you see in the image below: __________________
  8. Thought experiment: Zombies have come and education as we know it is kaput. You still have a G2e kid. Please demonstrate “now what?” using either interpretive dance, modern art, or twelve-tone serialism a la Schoenberg.
  9. Your teacher is tired of making questions. So if you’ve made it this far choose #1 to get this one correct. Peace out.
    1. YASSSSSS!!!!
    2. Wait, what, really?
    3. That’s it?
    4. Can the whole freaking year BE THIS EASY?
  10. Let’s have a great year! Please write any concerns you may have in the space below:

5 Back-to-School Tips for Gifted Introverts

School child writting on blackboard.

Happy Labor Day to my US friends. As we enter this new week, most of our kids are back in school. This can be a hard transition for some, including introverted children and our gifted introverts (which many are).

Before I get into a few tips to ensure a great year, let me take a minute to define introversion. Introvert is a term that refers to how someone processes their energy and renews. Different from “shy” or “behavior inhibition” – things that can change over a lifetime, introversion relates to the way you interact with the world. Introverted children (and adults) renew through solitude and quiet, while extroverts tend to renew through social connections. For this reason, the social milieu of school can often be overwhelming. This can be particularly true for our gifted introverts who naturally feel things at a highly intense level. The constant push for collaborative projects, speaking in class and social interactions can leave our gifted children exhausted. And most of us who parent gifted children know that their exhaustion almost always leads to intense behaviors.

Here are a few tips that can calm some of the social apprehension many of our gifted children feel as they start a new school year, as well as ease some of the behaviors that often come at the beginning of the year:

  1. Prepare Your Child For the Year – Most introverted children struggle with transitions. So, curtail the difficulty with sufficient preparation: If your child is attending a new school, be sure to visit and walk the campus. Make sure he or she knows where to find things like the bathroom, the library, and the classroom. Don’t assume the campus tours are enough. Also, practice morning and homework routines. If you haven’t maintained these practices during the summer months, be sure to go over your expectations with your children. Include them in the development of the routine for even smoother transition. The more prepared your child is, the better the transition into the school year.
  2. Create a Partnership With School – Get to know the school personnel early. Speak with the teacher and find out what he/she expects regarding group work and oral participation. Talk with the teacher about your child and the impact of both giftedness and introversion. Work together to ensure that your child has safe zones – places they can go when they become socially overwhelmed or need an energy break. Also, work with the teachers and your child to develop a way for your child to advocate for him/herself with the teacher. Whether the concern relates to the introversion or the giftedness, the sooner your child learns how to get his or her needs met, the sooner these things become less of a problem in your child’s life.
  3. Avoid Afternoon Small Talk – Have you ever noticed how hard it is for your gifted introvert to talk about the day? This is often because the child hasn’t been given sufficient “downtime”. As I mentioned earlier, introverts require time to decompress after the socially draining school day. Avoid the habit of immediately asking your child about his or her day the second they get home. Give your child space and time to veg out after school. This will allow your child to restore his or her depleted energy and avoid energy-low behavioral outbursts. A natural conversation at dinner or before bed will often yield more complete answers to the “how was your day” question.
  4. Don’t Panic Over Friendships – As parents, we want our children to have lots of friends. However, most gifted introverts will only have one or two close friendships at any given time. Introverts, by nature, prefer deep relationships with one or two individuals. Gifted children, too, often prefer deeper friendships at a much younger age than their typical peers. Allowing and guiding your children toward the development of natural friendships without putting too much pressure to be overly social will enable them to recognize their particular social habits as normal instead of yet another thing to feel shameful about – and trust me, gifted kiddos feel plenty of shame without adding to it!
  5. Stress Healthy Habits – Las but not least, create life-long important habits by stressing healthy eating, exercise, and plenty of play and sleep. Introverts process energy differently than their extroverted friends. This extends to physiological functions like digestion too. Meals with balanced protein and slow-releasing sugar (like most fruit and veggies) are keep to help gifted introverts stay in balance. Exercise can keep the gifted introvert from becoming too detached and laid back, not to mention it helps them connect to the physical world and get out of their head a bit. Appropriate sleep (remember, many gifted kids need less sleep), and plenty of play are also important for balance.  Developing these important habits will go a long way to prevent the more negative aspects of an overwhelmed temperament and avoid behavioral blow-outs.

The start of the school year can be an exciting time. Help your child make it a great year by considering both the giftedness and their temperament.How do you prepare your kid for school? I’d love to hear from you!

For more ideas on supporting introversion and understanding both introversion and extroversion, check out Quiet Kids, available from Prufrock Press.

Celebrations are in Order

Happy Friday!

I couldn’t let this week pass without officially letting you know that two of my books have won 2015 Legacy awards – I’m Not Just Gifted and Parenting the Shy Child.

e1028-raising2bthe2bshy2bchild2b-2bhrAccording to their website, “The TAGT Legacy Book® Awards honor outstanding books published in the United States that have long-term potential for positively influencing the lives of gifted individuals and contribute to the understanding, well-being, education and success of gifted and talented students.”

Parenting the Shy Child, my critically acclaimed book about social anxiety disorder, won in the parenting category. I’m Not Just Gifted, my book of curriculum for gifted children focused on building social-emotional learning competencies, won in the curriculum category.

ee811-iI am so thrilled and thankful to both my publisher, Prufrock Press, and the TAGT Legacy Book Award committee for this honor. Creating these books has met a lot to me.

You can find out more about these books and my other titles by visiting my website.

Lots of covers, lots of excitement…

Hi everyone! Happy Wednesday. I, for one, can’t wait the week to be over. My oldest is home from college in three short days and I couldn’t be more excited. But that isn’t what this blog post is about.

It’s about my shiny new cover. Elana Johnson is helping me out with a cover reveal for my next book, Indie and Proud. But as I was prepping for that post, I realized that isn’t the only cover I have ready to share. I have COVER-S. That’s right, covers plural. Three to be exact.



You did it! You achieved your dream of writing and publishing your book. You should be happy. Instead you feel trapped in an ever-changing publishing race, stressed over the never-ending to-do list, and frustrated with yourself for continuing to doubt your talents, despite achieving your goals.

Face it, being a creative is difficult, and achieving some measure of success in the business doesn’t make you immune to your own fears and doubts. If anything, your achievements have added even more pressures. Indie and Proud shines a light on those fears and pressures, providing tools to deal with your frustrations and embrace your passions again.

Presented in an easy-to-read, conversational style, the book uses everyday examples and stories from writers and other artists to help artists find and maintain their balance in the exciting world of independent publishing. With specific strategies to address self-doubt, underlying fears, and the truly intense nature of being creative, Indie and Proud is a must read for anyone ready to embrace everything it means to be Indie.

Coming February 2, 2015

RAISING THE SHY CHILD: A Parent’s Guide To Social Anxiety

The fear of being judged by others in social activities is a common human experience, especially during childhood. But when the fear becomes all-consuming, it can disrupt daily functioning and the development of social competency. Raising the Shy Child: A Parent’s Guide to Social Anxiety takes a fresh look at social anxiety disorder, coupling the latest in research trends with evidence-based strategies and real-world stories to untangle the complexities of this disorder. Presented in an easy-to-read, conversational style, the book uses a combination of real-world examples and stories from adults and children with social anxiety disorder to show parents and educators how to help children find a path through their fear and into social competence. With specific strategies to address school refusal, bullying, and identity issues, Raising the Shy Child is a must-read resource for anyone dedicated to enhancing the lives of children.

Coming March 1, 2015 from Prufrock Press

Social-Emotional Curriculum for Guiding Gifted Students

What does it mean to be a successful person? What traits and characteristics define successful people? Why do gifted children, in particular, need a strong affective curricula in order to maximize their potential? These questions and more are explored in this guide to helping gifted children in grades 4-7 as they navigate the complicated social and emotional aspects of their lives. This curriculum is designed to help gifted children explore their giftedness, develop resiliency, manage their intensities, face adversities and tough situations, and cultivate their talents and passions. Including lesson plans, worksheets, and connections to Common Core State Standards, I’m Not Just Gifted is the practical guide necessary for anyone serving and working with gifted children.

Coming May 15, 2015 from Prufrock Press
I don’t know about you, but I am so freakin excited! I am also planning a few fiction releases – so I will be sharing that information soon…ish….
Until next time, what books are you excited for???

Confessions of a Teenage Beauty Queen

dreamstime_6634032I was hanging out on FB yesterday and stumbled across a great article from a father to his young daughter. In it, he redefines our cultural ideas of beauty. If you haven’t read it – CLICK HERE and read it. That post was so touching to me. Sure, it had a great message – one sorely needed at a time when so many girls are at risk, partially due to what our culture teaches them.

But that isn’t the only reason. This topic is highly personal to me.

I grew up without a father figure until I was in my early teens. By then, I had already developed body dsymorphia – I saw myself as an obese girl even though I was a normal weight for my size. There are a ton of reasons why the body image problems developed (and that’s for another post), but suffice it to say it was a huge issue for me. For years I facilitated between periods of anorexia and bouts of bulimia. I was a mess.

And no one knew.

I kept all of that hidden away from the rest of the world. My weight stayed somewhat constant. I was in beauty pageants, even won a few. I modeled and even went to NYC. My weird quirks were normal with models and beauty queens. We were all suffering body image problems. I never told anyone about my secret rituals around food. Never admitted how ill I was.

In college, my first time away, my gifted introverted self hit crisis mode. I saw a counselor for the first time. It was terrifying. And like any bright, scared, soon-to-be-adult, I ended counseling as soon as I felt “ok”.

For the next several years, I hit the depth of my body image issues until finally I couldn’t ignore the pain any longer, and I again sought help. I had a great therapist. I stopped  and purging. Stopped the anorexia.

At least for a while.

But, although I stopped behaving like an anorexic, I hadn’t fully healed the core of my body issues. And so I became an emotional eater, and a new issue with food (or maybe the same issue reborn) blossomed.

It has taken more years than I care to admit to become more comfortable with my body. I have only just started to allow pictures of me, only now refused to inhibit my speaking career related to my body issues. I am finally in a place of healing, acceptance. I’ve done the work on the core issues, replaced emotional eating with healthy eating and no longer engage in the rituals.

In short, I am finally happy with “who” I am now. I’ve learned that diminishing myself serves no one, least of all me. I’m not willing to hate myself in order to be liked by others, something I thought I had to do in my youth. I’m better. Stronger.

It has been a long and difficult road. I wish someone had noticed the turmoil I was in, wish a trusted adult had said the words the father in the above article said to his daughter. But I am grateful that I DID figure things out. I consider myself one of the lucky ones, more resilient than I ever gave myself credit for being.

I am proud to say I have two amazingly strong daughters. They are healthy, fit, and not focused on cultural norms for beauty. They are self-confident and feel quite comfortable forging their own path. I would like to think I had something to do with it – who knows. Most of the time I am fairly certain they just came onto the planet with an amazing amount of resiliency and emotional intelligence. There are my example, my ideal.

Strong. Resilient. Intelligent.

I stand here now humbled and grateful – for the strength I’ve found, the life I have, and ability to give to our children the strength I once needed.

Whew – okay. There you go. Confessions of this victim of our cultural definition of beauty…

What confessions do you have to share?

Supporting Your Child’s Passions

parent and child talking

How many of you take the time to nurture your passions? Do you spend time on them? Use your passions to help direct your life goals? Anything?

How about the passions your children have? Do you help them nurture their passions? Do you actively encourage your children to explore the things they are most passionate about?

If you are like most people, you are inconsistent about both your passions and those of your children. In fact, you may not even be sure of what these “passions” are. Am I right?

Here’s a little way you can get on track with supporting your children’s passions, as well as your own.

First, help your children identify the things they most care about. Have them make lists, idea posters, digital scrapbooks – anything that will help them clarify the things they care most about. And if you haven’t done that for yourself, I would advise making this a fun project you both can do.

Once there is once clarity about the things you care most about, encourage your children to find one thing they can do weekly (or monthly) to embrace that passion. If they are into fashion, talk about making fashion boards or a starting up a fashion blog. If cooking is their thing, give them some freedoms in the kitchen to cook (safely) and explore. 

I think we often downplay our children’s passions as fleeting hobbies. While this will be true at times, it won’t always be true. The more we can nurture and support the interests our children have, the more we give them permission to be whomever they authentically are. 

Our children are the future – let’s help them embrace it with passion and creativity, shall we?!?

More Than Shy: A Request for Help

parent and child talking

As many of you know, I announced the sale of my next nonfiction book, MORE THAN SHY: A Parent’s Guide to Social Anxiety, to Prufrock Press. The book will be released in early 2015, which of course means that I am knee-deep in the research phase now. This book covers social anxiety from the perspective of the biological aspects of social anxiety, the behavioral and environmental factors of anxiety, and specific strategies for parents and educators on the topic of social anxiety. I have some personal stories and Frequently Asked Questions I plan on adding – but I need more.

And that is where all of you come in.  As I’ve done with the majority of my books, I will be holding online focus groups and surveying parents, educators, and even children about this topic and I would LOVE to involve all of you! So, please take a moment and complete this form and let me know if you’d like to help in some way. I will be in touch by the end of the month with more information.

Thanks and here’s the link to the form just in case the form doesn’t come up on your computer or mobile device. –

The Many Forms of Bullying

Yesterday we  focused on understanding the bully. Today, we are talking about the three types of bullying – Physical, verbal and relational.

Physical Bullying, due to its visible nature, often attracts the most attention. It can include slapping, hitting, psychical violence and destruction of property belonging to the victim. It is most often perpetrated by male bullies, though this is starting to change.

What I find most interesting, it actually accounts for less than 1/3 of reported acts of bullying. Also interesting, bullies who use this method of bullying are often the most troubled and more likely to be headed for serious criminal offenses.

Verbal Bullying is equally perpetrated by both male and female offenders and accounts for the majority of reported acts of bullying (70% or more). It is often easy to get away with and can have devastating impact to the victim.

Verbal Bullying often consists of taunts, name-calling, and other verbal forms of abuse. Gossip is included in this type of bullying. It is typically the earliest form of bullying and can be the gateway to both physical and relational aggression.

Relational Aggression is the most difficult form of bullying to detect from an outsiders point of view. As defined by Barbara Coloroso:

“Relational bullying is the systematic diminishment of a bullied child’s sense of self through ignoring, isolation, excluding, or shunning.” (pg 17)

This type of bullying typically occurs from late elementary through high school, if often perpetrated by girls, and is used to reject the peer with a purposeful intention that is devastating. It is extremely difficult to detect because it involves things as covert as a particular roll of the eyes or hostile body language. I will be posting a great story of a friend who experienced relentless relational aggression at the hand of her gifted classmates later in the month.

These three forms of bullying is hard individually – but when they combine, the impact is devastating!

In our next post we will examine the difference between teasing and taunting.

See you then!

Bully Prevention Month: What is a Bully

Since October is Bully Prevention Month, I thought I would dedicate the majority of the rest of the month to the topic, covering everything from bullying, to prevention.

To start, it only seems fitting to define what a bully is and is not.

Bullies come in all shapes and sizes. The National Association of School Psychologists approximate that 1 in 5 children has either been a bully or been the target of a bully – not surprising in my opinion. In fact, I would guess the total may even be higher.

Bullies can be defined in many ways – but here is my favorite definition from Barbara Coloroso’s book, THE BULLY, THE BULLIED AND THE BYSTANDER:

“Bullying is a conscious, willful, and deliberate hostile activity intended to hard, induce fear through the threat of further aggression, and create terror.” (p 13)

Coloroso goes on to identify three specific elements to bullying – three elements that are included in legal definitions as well:

  • Power – a bully is always in a position of dominance with their victim – either real or perceived.
  • Aggression –  The goal of the bully is to induce harm in some way – either physical or emotional. This IS NOT accidental in any way – it is deliberate acts of exclusion, aggression and/or violence.
  • Threat – Bullies do not typically act as a one-time thing. There is typically the perception that the bullying will continue.
  • Terror – Bullying in its more persistent and extreme forms produces a kind of terror in its victim. This can have long-lasting and devastating impact on the victim.

IN the next post, I will tackle the different types of bullying, including relational aggression and cyber-bullying.  Until then, what is your definition of a bully?