Category Archives: Mental Health

Bullying and Gifted Students

 

Bullying is not an easy topic to discuss, but an important one when it comes to gifted children who are all too often the target of bullies. What signs should parents/educators look for if they suspect a child is being bullied? Parents of a child they suspect is being bullied should be concerned if their child suddenly does not want to go to school, shows signs of bodily injuries, or has trouble eating or sleeping. Children who are being bullied may avoid talking about it with parents, teachers of school staff fearing reprisals by the bully. Teachers who suspect a student is being bullied should look for changes in classroom behavior, expressed fears of being alone, or a change in grades and or academic performance.

What are the consequences of bullying/cyberbullying? Both can lead to increased school absences, low self-esteem, and underachievement. Bullying can also lead to more serious consequences such as anxiety, depression, and physical harm to the child. Unreported bullying can quickly escalate to criminal acts such as extortion, theft, and sexual harassment or assault.

To reduce bullying, schools should consider introducing Anti-bullying & Positive Behavior Programs at the elementary level. Providing students with information and strategies to counter bullying have proven effective in preventing it. Teachers and staff can watch for signs of bullying at school and initiate conversations with parents when necessary. Parents may not even know their child is being bullied at school.

Providing a safe and loving environment for your child throughout their life can increase the likelihood that they will confide in you should bullying occur. Parents should contact their child’s teacher and school personnel if they know or even suspect their child is being bullied; keep detailed written accounts of what occurred. When bullying takes place at school, parents should allow school personnel to contact and resolve the issues with the bully’s parents.

Parents may need to contact health professionals if their child sustains physical injury or shows signs of mental health issues. They should follow up with school personnel if they are not satisfied with actions taken by their child’s school to resolve any incidents of bullying or if there is continued bullying. Parents should report suspected criminal actions to law enforcement. Oftentimes, this may be the difference of one child or many children being bullied or worse.

What should parents look for and then do if their child is bullying others? Parents don’t like to admit their child may be the bully, but it can happen. Parents should be alert to increased aggression at home or reported by school and refusal to accept responsibility. They should monitor their child associating with a new group of friends, involvement in fights or altercations, disciplinary actions at school and lying about their actions or whereabouts.

A transcript of this chat can be found at Wakelet.

Addendum: One Mother’s Story

“What signs should a parent look for if they suspect their child is being bullied? Changes in behaviour. With our son he started to withdraw very subtly and in hindsight the teachers were like “oh yea something must have been going on”.  Our son tried to tell the principal, but when she didn’t do anything he stopped trying to talk to her and assumed he was to manage on his own. He is in Jr High and verbally gifted.

What are the signs of bullying? Parents should look for poor health, grades, and impacts on mental health. Our son was in so much quiet pain that he was thinking suicidal thoughts, he stopped doing activities he loved, and stopped trying to participate in school. He became fearful and because the bullying escalated, he has been seeing a professional to heal from the trauma.  He started to disbelieve that adults would help or make things better, and assumed that it was because they didn’t really believe him or care.

How can teachers help? LISTEN. That is the BIGGEST thing.  A gifted student may not ask for help in tears or in a panic, but through conversation or asking for change. They may not wish to harm their abusers by ratting them out. They want to have the bullying stop. Our son tried for months to be heard. Years really. What hurt him wasn’t what the teachers or administrators thought was ‘really bullying’, but it was. And when it escalated, the damage also escalated. Don’t assume that only one type of bullying is happening or that you child isn’t trying to do things to protect themselves. Our son was pursued, harassed and even in class because the bullies were both aggressive and subtle. It took a chance turn around for a teacher to catch them in a horrible act IN CLASS and really step up the school’s response. Teachers should have a safety plan. Have an escape from danger, a safe person to talk to and safe place to go. Ideally once the bullying person is identified they are the ones who should leave the classroom. Being exiled from class because you are being hurt can add insult to injury for a gifted student who wants to learn more than anything else.  Let your administrators and your gifted child know that asking for help, and being safe is JOB #1. There is no shame or blame in walking away from a bad situation. Finally, teachers need to understand giftedness and asynchronous development. That intellectual conversation you are having may be with someone who is emotionally feeling things at a much younger place. Don’t assume that because they are having a rational discourse that inside they are not totally freaking out and in panic mode. Masking is an art form with some gifted and many neurodiverse people. They won’t want to be more vulnerable and risk being hurt more.

What can parents do to help their child who is being bullied? You are their champion at school, their advocate. Believe them, support them as they heal and recover. Try very hard to let them tell you what’s going on with an open mind. get them mental health supports as needed. Consider alternatives for schooling (we have moved to a blended classroom and homeschool option which is going great). BELIEVE THEM. Even if you think their perception is skewed or their reaction is excessive. They need to know they are heard and supported first and foremost. Sorting out the details can come later, with professional help if needed (and it does help A LOT).

When should parents take a stronger stance against bullying? Looking back because hindsight is 20/20, I would say from the beginning I was sucked into believing the school’s process would work. And it didn’t. Not for a gifted child who was highly sensitive, verbally gifted and very asynchronous. I will always carry some anger and some blame for how things went. Be assertive and try cooperative measures early one. Don’t take their pat answers and if your gut is saying something won’t work speak up.  The systems most schools have in place for addressing bullying are not meant for extremes in bullying or escalations. They are also very much designed for neurotypical students. These are not things that work for gifted folks. There are no one-size-fits-all solutions.”

Special thanks to Shanyn for sharing her story with us!

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Thursdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Fridays at 2PM NZDT/Noon AEDT/1 AM UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Wakelet. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news and information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Lisa Conrad About the authorLisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at  Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: gtchatmod@gmail.com

Resources:

NAGC Parent TIP Sheet: Bullying (pdf)

NAGC Parent TIP Sheet: Cyberbullying and Gifted Children (pdf)

Covert Aggression and Gifted Adolescent Girls (pdf)

Bullying and Gifted Learners

Stopbullying.gov

Bullying Among the Gifted: The Subjective Experience

Bullies and Bullying

Gifted and Tormented

Teasing and Gifted Children

Cyberbullying and Sexting: Technology Abuses of the 21st Century

Bullying and the Gifted: Answers for Better Understanding

Why Gifted Students Are Targeted by Bullies

Gifted, Bullied, Resilient: A Brief Guide for Smart Families (book)

Gifted Kids, Cyberbullying, and Digital Citizenship: Helpful Resources for Parents

Study: Gifted Children Especially Vulnerable to Effects of Bullying

Gifted and Bullied (pdf)

Bullying and the Gifted: Victims, Perpetrators, Prevalence, and Effects

Why Gifted Students Are Targeted by Bullies

Guest, Pamela Price, Author of “Gifted, Bullied, Resilient: A Brief Guide for Smart Families

Photo courtesy of Pixabay Pixabay License

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

Counseling GT Students through Relationships

Building rapport with gifted students starts with a basic understanding of the term ‘gifted’ without prejudice. Teachers, staff, and admins should consider professional development in the specific area of gifted education. Most gifted students will bristle at any attempt by adults to be disingenuous in their feelings towards them. Building rapport begins with building relationships.

Gifted students are always the benefactors of positive relationships between their teachers and parents; hopefully from the beginning they meet. Too often, negative first impressions are hard to get passed. Positive relationships can make for happy classroom experiences for all involved.

What strategies can teach gifted students in improving their communication and connection with others? Emphasizing that being gifted is about being “better at something, not better than someone” (Delisle) can substantially improve how GT students connect with other students. Teachers can engage gifted students in conversation about gifted characteristics and how asynchronous development affects their relationships with both age-peers and intellectual peers.

Stress management is an often overlooked, but crucial area which GT students need to be counseled in when confronting academic anxiety related to test taking, performance, and competition. GT students face real and perceived pressure from others to achieve and be successful that other students may not experience. This can create higher levels of anxiety. Gifted students can benefit from being taught relaxation techniques such as meditation and positive self-talk; engage in expressive writing; as well as, bibliotherapy and cinematherapy.

When should a gifted student or their family seek counseling outside of school? When stress and anxiety begin to affect a student’s life beyond the classroom, parents may need to seek outside counseling. When warning signs begin to cause concern such as difficulty sleeping, expressing thoughts of despair or even attempts at self-harm; an outside counselor should be considered.

How can teachers balance the need for positive student relationships with the reality and obligations of being an educator? All relationships benefit from boundaries and teacher-student relationships are no different. Most school districts delineate expectations of these relationships. Most educators must work with students who exhibit a wide range of abilities. Providing a positive educational experience for each student is the most primary concern. Relationships should always foster learning. A transcript of this chat may be found at Wakelet.

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Thursdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Fridays at 2PM NZDT/Noon AEDT/1 AM UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Wakelet. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news and information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Resources:

Counseling the Gifted and Talented (book)

Counseling Gifted and Talented Students (Neihart et al., 2002)

Counseling the Gifted

No Child Left Behind: Gifted Children and School Counselors (paywall)

How to Find the Right Counselor for Your Gifted Child

Social and Emotional Needs of Gifted Students: What School Counselors Need to Know to Most Effectively Serve This Diverse Student Population

The Whole Gifted Child

The Whole Gifted Child Task Force Report to the Board of Directors (pdf March 2018)

Counseling Gifted and Talented Children: A Guide for Teachers, Counselors, and Parents (Creativity Research) (book)

Happiness Unpacked: Positive Emotions Increase Life Satisfaction by Building Resilience

The Social and Emotional Development of Gifted Children: What Do We Know? (2nd ed.)

Meeting the Guidance and Counseling Needs of Gifted Students in School Settings (pdf)

American School Counselor Association: The Professional School Counselor and Gifted and Talented School Programs (pdf p.25)

Being Gifted in School: An Introduction to Development, Guidance, and Teaching (2nd ed.)

Models of Counseling Gifted Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults

Addressing Counseling Needs of Gifted Students

Counseling Gifted Students: School-Based Considerations and Strategies (pdf)

Counselling Practices in Fostering Potentials among Gifted Students

The School Counselor and the Gifted Children Education

Psychological Issues and the Need for Counseling Services among Malaysian Gifted Students

Clinical and Mental Health Issues in Counseling the Gifted Individual (pdf)

Big Fish in Big Ponds: A Multilevel Analysis of Test Anxiety and Achievement in Special Gifted Classes

A Multicultural Competence Model for Counseling Gifted and Talented Children (pdf)

Performance Anxiety in Gifted Students

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder (book)

Cybraryman’s Counseling Page

Cybraryman’s Coping Strategies Page

Cybraryman’s Building Relationships with Students and Parents Page

Cybraryman’s Body Language Page

With Hundreds of Students, School Counselors Just Try to ‘Stay Afloat’

Your Guide to Forest Bathing: Experience the Healing Power of Nature (book)

Sprite’s Site: The Dabrowski Dogs Make New Year Resolutions

Disclaimer: Resources from Prufrock Press include affiliate links.

Photo Courtesy of Heather Vaughn.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay CC0 Public Domain

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

Tech Addiction – Regulating Screen Time

Tech addiction or digital addiction actually covers three broad areas involving social media addiction, video game addiction, and Internet addiction. According to Shaw & Black at the University of Iowa, tech or digital addiction is distinguished by impairment or distress resulting from “urges or behaviors regarding computer use and Internet access.” Children addicted to tech often express feeling profound loneliness, lack social skills, display executive functioning disorder, and have trouble regulating their emotions.

Should GT students excelling in tech have their screen time limited at all? Students who excel at tech may actually be even more at risk of addiction than other students. It becomes a matter of balance; balancing necessary time using tech and avoiding addiction. GT students may be tech savvy at younger ages than their age-peers. Screen time can intrude on much need social interactions and ultimately affect social growth.

How does unlimited screen time affect twice-exceptional and are there potential benefits to screen time? It depends on the nature of their twice-exceptionality. Some twice-exceptional kids are highly susceptible to types of tech that are repetitive in nature. They may not understand why adults are limiting access. Tech affords opportunities for GT and #2ekids to express their creativity and to explore their passions. It gives them access to more challenging content and coursework.

Moderating access to tech almost has to have different approaches at school and at home. So much of differentiation for gifted students involves technology; both in the classroom and for homework assignments. At home use of tech may deal with different forms of tech use; such as, social media and video gaming. As such, it may require criteria that differ significantly from using tech for school work and interaction with peers.

The upside to tech addiction involves consideration of quality time online versus quantity of time. Availability of tech can be motivating. Limiting access to tech can also motivate students to use their time more wisely. Teachers can structure tech time to involve time offline supporting activities initiated online. Students can interact online to discuss assignments, but do the majority of work offline.

In recent years, gifted education in many school districts has come to rely heavily on tech as both a way to differentiate instruction as well as give students time to interact with intellectual peers at off campus locations. Parents need to be diligent in monitoring and regulating screen time. They should give forethought to their discussions about boundaries regarding the use of tech. GT kids will be well prepared with counter arguments. A transcript of this chat can be found at Wakelet.

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Thursdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Fridays at 2PM NZDT/Noon AEDT/1 AM UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Wakelet. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news and information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Resources:

Giftedness and Technology

Gifted and Addicted: Perils of the Cyber World

Technology and the Unseen World of Gifted Students

MRIs Show Screen Time Linked to Lower Brain Development in Preschoolers

Associations between Screen-Based Media Use and Brain White Matter Integrity in Preschool-Aged Children

Media and Young Minds

Create Your Family Media Plan (American Academy of Pediatrics)

Change in the Brain’s White Matter: The role of the brain’s white matter in active learning and memory may be underestimated

What to Do If Your Kid becomes Addicted to Tech

Screen Time and the Gifted Student: Balance and Quality Are Key

What Educators Need to Know about Technology Addiction

Dealing with Digital Distraction in the Classroom

Technology Addiction

Are Gifted Children More Prone to Digital Addictions?

Screen Time = Scream Time

Autism and Screen Time: Special Brains, Special Risks

Balancing Technology and School: Is Technology Addiction a Problem?

Media Use in School-Aged Children and Adolescents

Effects of Technology on Gifted Children

Cybraryman’s Screen Time Page

Is Too Much Screen Time Bad?

Photo courtesy of Pixabay CC0 Public Domain

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

Too Much Worry – How do we help our gifted kids?

 

How do you distinguish anxiety from everyday worry? It’s extremely important to understand the difference between everyday worry and anxiety because this knowledge affects how we react to each one. Everyday worry is more generalized and prompts a problem-solving reaction. It is how we think about something rather than how we react to it. General worries, once solved, tend to go away. It doesn’t interfere with daily functioning. Anxiety equals an irrational fear. It provides a physical response that may last for long periods of time. It can affect school, work, and personal lives. Anxiety may require a diagnosis and psychological treatment.

Anxiety in gifted children may inhibit them from pursuing dreams or developing talents because it can drain their energy, cause them to be insecure, and to be absorbed by doubt and self-criticism. (Peters) When dealing with anxiety, gifted children may be faced with unreasonable high expectations from adults, bullying and social rejection due to the gifted label, and the tendency to focus on deficits. (Mendaglio) Research suggests that gifted individuals may possess traits such as coping strategies and high self-efficacy to reduce anxiety and this can help gifted children if they learn to effectively use these abilities. (Amend)

Gifted children are still children. Anxiety may manifest as ongoing worry, irritability, sleep issues, avoidance, or seemingly inexplicable changes in behavior. They may experience anxiety in the face of parental/teacher criticism or react inappropriately to being misunderstood by age-peers.

What unique sources of anxiety may be seen in gifted children? Gifted children may experience anxiety when moving from an inclusive classroom to a self-contained gifted classroom of intellectual peers. After many years of unchallenging classwork, gifted children often experience anxiety when they suddenly face challenge at the secondary level without necessary study skills. Gifted students often face criticism when they question adults, challenge authority, or display resistance to conformity; and the consequences can lead to anxiety.

Teachers can help GT students deal with anxiety at school. Helping any student at school is best done when built on a positive teacher-student relationship. Students are more receptive to teachers they trust and believe have their best interests in mind. Difficult conversations concerning the reasons for anxiety can often be made easier with bibliotherapy. Feelings may be addressed indirectly by using literature to explore the student’s needs.

How can parents help their gifted child cope with anxiety and worry? Parents should always be alert to the signs of anxiety in their children and know the difference between anxiety and worry. Introspection is a quality parents should cultivate in themselves. Overreacting to childhood behaviors, expecting too much, or failing to mind their own behavior may be the cause of anxiety in their child.

A transcript of this chat may be found at Wakelet.

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Thursdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Fridays at 2PM NZDT/Noon AEDT/1 AM UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Wakelet. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news and information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Resources:

How to Help Children Who are Highly Susceptible to Stress

Living With and Managing Intensity

Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students with Guest, Christine Fonseca

Anxiety-Free Kids: An Interactive Guide for Parents and Children (2nd ed.) (book)

Letting Go: A Girl’s Guide to Breaking Free of Stress and Anxiety (book)

Stressed Out!: Solutions to Help Your Child Manage and Overcome Stress (book)

Make Your Worrier a Warrior: A Guide to Conquering Your Child’s Fears (book)

The Warrior Workbook: A Guide for Conquering Your Worry Monster (book)

Make Your Worrier a Warrior (pdf)

The Gifted Kids Workbook: Mindfulness Skills to Help Children Reduce Stress, Balance Emotions, and Build Confidence (book)

4 Ways to Support Gifted Children with Anxiety

Management of Anxiety Begins at Home

Tips for Parents: Anxiety, Sensitivities and Social Struggles among Profoundly Gifted Kids

Why Gifted Children are Anxious, Plus 4 Ways to Help Them Cope

Anxiety in Gifted Children: 3 Simple Steps Parents and Educators Can Take

Monitoring Anxiety in Your Gifted Child

Understanding the Link between Empathy and Anxiety in Gifted Children

Managing Anxiety in Gifted Children

Do Gifted Children Struggle with Anxiety?

Taming The Worry Monster – Anxiety In Gifted Children (YouTube 1:32)

How to Help Your Gifted Child Cope With Anxiety

Tips for Parents: Worry and the Gifted: How Much is Too Much?

Hoagies’ Blog Hop: Perfectionism, Anxiety, and OCD

Why Smart Kids Worry: And What Parents Can Do to Help (book)

Worry Says What? (book)

Gratitude: The Short Film by Louie Schwartzberg (Vimeo 6:20)

Anxiety at School

Cybraryman’s Anxiety Page

Cybraryman’s Coping Strategies Page

Cybraryman’s Counseling Page

Cybraryman’s Yoga and Meditation Page

Cybraryman’s SEL Page

Generation Anxious

Depression, Anxiety, and the Mismanagement of Aliveness

Sprite’s Site: Dystopia

Disclaimer: Resources from Prufrock Press include affiliate links.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay CC0 Public Domain

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

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