How To Make A Dream Poster


Girl playing in the sun
Girl playing in the sun

Parenting gifted children is a challenge in many ways. But it is also exciting. Their intensities and passions are electrifying to be around. But sometimes our kids struggle with wrestling that excitement into a dream for their future. Life happens, the world misunderstands them and slowly they begin to limit their dreams, their passions. This is where we need to intercede and help our kiddos NOT lose sight of their dreams.

Dreaming isn’t about being practical or pragmatic. It’s about imagining the most fantastical life you can dream up, and imagining it in perfect detail.  Teaching our children how to visualize their passions can inspire them to do as Henry David Thoreau says and “go confidently in the direction of your dreams.”

A Dream Poster is a great way for your children to put their fantasies and dreams into something that can remind them of their passions. Making one is easy and can be done with minimal supplies. The how-to list below can be done to create a print poster. You can also adapt it to create a digital poster or collage board on Pinterest, Tumblr page, or similar online site:

How To Make A Dream Poster:

  • Start with a listing of your interests
  • Find or draw pictures that capture those interest, as well as your goals for the future
  • Make a collage, poster, or some other artistic representation of those interests. Be as creative as you dare. Some people have made 3-D letters, decoupaged with pictures of their dreams. Others have created Wordle posters or Tumblr pages. There really are no limits to what you can create.
  • Somewhere in the picture, write a goal of something you would like to do or achieve.
  • Date the picture.
  • Revisit it often and change it or add to it as you desire.
  • Most importantly, DREAM BIG!

It’s important for all of us to make visual reminders of where we want to go, both in terms of our goals and our dreams. Teaching your children to to this can help them harness their intensities and turn them into passions that ignite their future. A dream poster can be their (or your) reminder to help us when life throws curve balls, gets too difficult, or our dreams seem to fade from view altogether.

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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.

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.

Looking for a “gifted” coach?


Did you know that emotional coaching is a highly effective way to reach gifted children? Not only that, but parent coaching can provide parents of gifted children with the insight they need to meet the needs of their gifted kiddos.

When I started working with families of gifted children nearly 2 decades ago, I became increasingly aware that teachers, parents, and students all needed more resources and more support than was available. That is a large part of the reason why I wrote Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students and 101 Success Secrets for Gifted Kids.  

As the years went on, I realized that the books weren’t enough. I could do more to support our gifted population and those that serve them. My consulting and coaching business grew from that desire. Now I am a regular speaker at school districts and other venues. My audience includes parents, educators, and students. Topics include the social-emotional needs of gifted students, understanding the role of temperament and using social-emotional learning competencies to coach gifted children. Speaking events can be presentation or workshop style.

In addition to my speaking events, I also provide coaching for gifted children and their parents. Different from counseling or therapy, the coaching I provide is centered on understanding giftedness and how to maximize potential through empowerment and embracing the positive aspects of giftedness while managing some of the difficulties. I work with clients on goal-setting, specific strategies to address areas of concern, and other skills to help them fulfill their goals.

If you or your organization would like more information about speaking opportunities or coaching, please contact me through my website by clicking HERE.

For 2016, I will be looking for more ways to support the gifted community, as well as anyone living an intense life. If you have ideas about what you’d like to see from me, please leave me a comment and let me know.

Thank you for the ways you supported gifted individuals.

Throw Back Tuesday: Passion – The Core of the Gifted


Hi everyone! I am just getting back from a long weekend and well, I am behind. No big shock though, right?!? To deal with blogging I decided to do a throw-back-Tuesday post from last year. The topic – PASSION and Intensities. I hope you enjoy it:

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You’ve heard me say before that gifted individuals are, at their core, intense. This intensity extends into every aspect of their being – the way their brain functions, the way their sensory system interacts with the world, and the way they feel about the world. It is, in my opinion, a core aspect of the gifted individual.

The world often looks at the cognitive aspects of their intensity favorably, complimenting them on their academic prowess, or giving accolades for the unique problem-solving skills or creative approaches gifted individuals often demonstrate.

This is not typically true with the emotional aspects of being. These are looked at with a less favorable eye. When they are young, gifted individuals are often thought to be overly dramatic, engaging in tantrumming behavior over seemingly little events.

As they age, a gifted person may find it hard to find relationships because of their intensities – they give so much to every friendship, every love interest, that  it often scares the other individual.

As a gifted adult, I can tell you that learning to deal with the intense aspects of giftedness has been a unique challenge. I feel things at such a deep level, am easily wounded, and can often appear somewhat unbalanced because of my intensities.

Nothing is farther from the truth, however.

My intensities make me strong.

Let me say that again – my intensities, or my passion, for whatever it is I am doing makes me strong. It gives me the focus I need to push past the things that are difficult in order to reach my goals. And it enables me to connect to others in a way that has helped my art, my job….everything.

I say this to encourage you to view the intense aspects of your giftedness, or the giftedness within your children for what it truly is – PASSION.

It is passion that enables humans to create and invent. Passion that raises art to the sublime. Passion that gives us a reason to continue.

Passion.

Understanding Resiliency


Simply defined, resiliency is the ability to bounce back from adversity. It involves several components, including the following:

  • Mastery
  • Connections
  • Emotional Intensity

Gifted individuals, both children and adults, are hardwired in ways that present unique challenges to overall resiliency. And while these posts will take a look at some of the inherent problems facing the GT population, I do not want any reader to interpret this to mean that GT individuals are MORE prone to resiliency challenges. I would actually argue that the very nature of giftedness may serve as a well of internal resources helping improve resiliency for most. 

MASTERY

Mastery specifically refers to a person’s ability to understand and analyze the cause/effect relationship between effort and results. It involves how a child views his or her individual ability to master the environment; whether or not he or she believes that working hard will, in fact, lead to improved outcomes.

Mastery involves the attributes of optimism (the ability to see the glass as half-full and feel positive about the future), adaptability (the ability to change and adapt to environmental/situational changes), and self-efficacy (different from self-esteem, this specifically relates to a person’s belief that he or she has the ability to perform successfully in a given situation).

As seen from the definition above, there are several areas in which gifted kids may struggle related to the very nature of giftedness. Some of the more typical challenges may include the following:

Optimism –

  • Feelings of inadequacy due to a mismatch between ability and previous achievements
  • 2E situations
  • Perfectionism and the belief that making errors means you are not gifted
  • Fear of failing resulting in poor risk taking
  • All or nothing belief structure (“I either know it all, or don’t know anything”)

Self-efficacy

  • The belief that teachers/parents have unrealistically high expectations for performance
  • Same rigidity, perfectionism, and fear of failure discussed above
Adaptability:
  • Inflexible in thinking processes
  • Intensities (you will see this come up a lot)
  • Resistance to accepting help
  • Resistance to change
As you can see, there are a lot of potential problems facing our gifted children related to the very nature of giftedness.
 
So what do we do to help? I think the answer is two-fold (as always). First, as parents and/or educators, we need to accept our own difficulties in these areas. Identify them, and work to consciously correct our inaccurate thinking. Reframe “normal” for ourselves. Then we need to help our children do the same. Talk with them about their feeling related to this domain – help them see where their thinking may be not only counterproductive, but just plan incorrect. Help them learn to recognize the times and ways in which their thoughts are inaccurate.
 
By doing this – by understanding mastery and the ways it can adversely impact kids, you are positioning yourself to act as an “emotional” coach for them – something that I believe will lead to improved outcomes.
CONNECTIONS
Connections refers to the ability to make meaningful relationships with peers and adults, and to derive support from these relationships. In short, it refers to the feeling of having people in your corner who “get you” and “have your back”. Although it is important for children to have actual support, the research is clear that perceived support is far more important with regards to this aspect of resiliency and protection factors.
—Building and having positive connections typically involves the attributes of trust (trusting that the people in your life will not abandon you), support (feeling that those most trusted in your life are supportive of you and your issues/endeavors), comfort (feeling comfortable around people and with your peers and adults), and tolerance (being accepting of others and their unique styles, thought processes and needs).Obviously, GT kids may run into a few barriers in these areas related to the basic characteristics of giftedness, including some of the following:

—Building Connections:
  • —Like minded peers vs. typically developing peers
  • Difficulties developing relationships in general related to giftedness
  • Introverts vs extroverts
Imposter Syndrome and its impact
  • —Perceived Support vs Real Support
  • Rigid and narrow definitions of friendship, support, and/or expectations
  • Adaptability issues like those discussed under Mastery
Tolerance
  • OEs (intensities)
  • —Rigid thinking (yes, this does keep coming up!)
  • —Resistance to change
 
As you can see, this is another aspect of resiliency that can pose unique problems. So, how do we help? Like mastery, I think the answer starts with parents and/or educators understanding their own challenges with regards to building connections and Imposter Syndrome. We must reframe our difficulties, paying attention to any challenges we have with rigid thinking. As we do this for ourselves, we learn how to help our children do the same. Furthermore, by regularly looking inward at our own perceptions and behaviors, we cultivate an environment conducive to self-reflection and analysis. This environment, then, provides a risk free way for our children to do the same.
 
EMOTIONAL REACTIVITY

Emotional reactivity refers to how a child reacts emotionally to adversity or problems. We already know that Gifted Kids are highly intense. But this emotional reactivity, while actually a good thing, does bring with it the potential for difficulties in the area of resiliency. Some factors that impact a person’s overall emotional reactivity is the depth of their intensities, the time it takes them to emotionally bounce back from a set back, and the level of impairment the emotional intensity may cause.

Gifted children, being more intense than their non-gifted counterparts, have some unique challenges when it comes to emotional reactivity and intensity, including:

  • Extreme Intensity
  • Rigid thinking that makes recovery difficulty
  • Lack of emotional tools
Fortunately, there is a lot you can do to help your child learn to manage their emotional intensities and reactions to events in their lives. Some of these include:
  • Build an emotional tool bank
  • Teach your child an emotional vocabulary to discuss feelings, and then discuss them regularly
  • Discuss perfectionism and imposter syndrome issues openly and often
  • Discuss and work through fear of failure concerns
As you can see, the beginnings of working on managing intensities starts with open and honest communications in this area – something that can be hard and scary for most parents and kids. 
Understanding the workings of resiliency is the first step toward assisting our children in developing this part of themselves.
What do you think?

Passion – The Core of the Gifted


You’ve heard me say before that gifted individuals are, at their core, intense. This intensity extends into every aspect of their being – the way their brain functions, the way their sensory system interacts with the world, and the way they feel about the world. It is, in my opinion, a core aspect of the gifted individual.

The world often looks at the cognitive aspects of their intensity favorably, complimenting them on their academic prowess, or giving accolades for the unique problem-solving skills or creative approaches gifted individuals often demonstrate.

This is not typically true with the emotional aspects of being. These are looked at with a less favorable eye. When they are young, gifted individuals are often thought to be overly dramatic, engaging in tantrumming behavior over seemingly little events.

As they age, a gifted person may find it hard to find relationships because of their intensities – they give so much to every friendship, every love interest, that  it often scares the other individual.

As a gifted adult, I can tell you that learning to deal with the intense aspects of giftedness has been a unique challenge. I feel things at such a deep level, am easily wounded, and can often appear somewhat unbalanced because of my intensities.

Nothing is farther from the truth, however.

My intensities make me strong.

Let me say that again – my intensities, or my passion, for whatever it is I am doing makes me strong. It gives me the focus I need to push past the things that are difficult in order to reach my goals. And it enables me to connect to others in a way that has helped my art, my job….everything.

I say this to encourage you to view the intense aspects of your giftedness, or the giftedness within your children for what it truly is – PASSION.

It is passion that enables humans to create and invent. Passion that raises art to the sublime. Passion that gives us a reason to continue.

Passion.