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    Managing the Power of Mistakes

    Mistakes! Everybody makes them. I suppose everybody hates them, but you can't tell by the way some people operate. They keep doing the same, dumb stuff all through their lives. But, as gifted and talented people, here's how we're going to look at the power of mistakes in our lives:

    • Mistakes often exert a power on the way we feel, our feelings, i.e., our emotions.
    • We can empower ourselves by converting mistakes into quick, important lessons.
    Dropped Cone

    We can learn to live with the disappointments of our mistakes while at the same time use our mistakes to speed up our learning about anything in life. (photo - pawel-janiak - unsplash)

    Much sooner than most people, gifted kids come to understand the meaning of a mistake or a failure as they try to do things that interest them. That's part of what makes us gifted people gifted. However, it's also often the case that we are so young when we first perceive our mistakes that we are also too young to know how to manage the feelings that a mistake gives us. We feel frustrated, and maybe we feel angry, and sometimes those feelings are just as new as the mistake we just made. So for lack of experience in handling our feeelings, we let them move us into behaving in ways that are very distracting to us and the people around us.

    But we don't want anything having that kind of power over us, do we? So, we each have to find our own set of tricks that deal with the feelings we get from mistakes. We find the tricks that free us to fix mistakes. We also need to find the tricks that help us avoid mistakes in the future. And this is all very personal. Some people can just put those nasty feelings “on the shelf”, so to speak, and continue to work on the problem that caused the mistake. Some people eventually learn how to weaken the feelings by not spending any time paying attention to the feelings. Over time this approach can even keep the feelings from getting started.

    Those, then, are just a few, starter ideas for reducing the power that our mistakes have over our feelings. And you know, that's pretty good stuff. It'll be better stuff once you get some practice on finding your own way of dealing with the feelings that your mistakes give you. But there's more, and I think it's even better stuff.

    You see, my friends at NASA and I made our fair share of mistakes while doing science. But, we learned directly from those mistakes. In fact, as you study to become an astrophysicist, you see that you can't do science without making mistakes. When you do science, you are usually doing things that no one else in human history has ever done before, and that means no one actually knows what the right answer is, or what the right thing to do next is. You become a better scientist through an organized process of trial and error. That's all you have.

    The same thing is true for all of my monster musician friends. They make mistakes all of the time as they learn more about music, and about playing instruments. Now, this also demonstrates the level of determination it takes to be world class: It's nothing for a gifted and talented musician to spend the whole next day practicing the technique to overcome one, single performance mistake. What might have started out as a feeling of frustration for a musician making a mistake turns into a feeling of unyielding determination to achieve perfection, or as close to it as possible. The feelings change and become more motivational with time and with the building of true expertise.

    This is all very good news for us gifted kids. When we're young, our mistakes often make us feel frustration and anger. But if we learn to keep pushing through our mistakes to grow, eventually our mistakes will trigger determination in us instead of frustration. Once we gain the positive experience of fixing our mistakes, and learning how to avoid them, we gain the confidence it takes to put mistakes into their proper roles in our lives...and mistakes truly have a role to play. If everything remains easy, we are only operating on our raw, natural talents. But if we have to struggle to make progress, then our talents have to grow into even stronger skills.

    So, while you're really young, try to change what you think about, and especially how you feel about, the mistake. It's not a brick wall. It is a challenge that you can overcome. Furthermore, never feel as if you have to face a challenge alone. Asking for help is what all of the famous, successful people in human history have done. Finding great helpers and coaches is a sure sign that a person is gifted and talented.

    So, maybe for you, this is one of the tricks: You know that you can overcome a challenge. And so, there's not much that feels better than overcoming a big challenge. It is OK for you to believe in your success to the point that you start to feel good about your future success. The trick is to keep working and practicing until you beat the challenge.

    Thomas Meylan, Ph.D.
    Digital Clones, Inc.

    If you wish to respond to this post, please email gntblog at digitalclones dot biz and be sure to include the code G041719 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    “Spotting” Patterns
    Organizing Your Experience

    I recently blogged about attention patterns. I called these the naturally pre-wired focuses you have to spot opportunities or troubles very quickly so you have more time to respond to what's going on around you. But, you know, these attention patterns are probably connected to a broader capability usually called pattern recognition.

    Cypress Leaves

    Pattern recognition often gives us clues to guide our work as we try to understand our gifts and improve our approaches to creativity. (photo - t.meylan - digitalclones)

    In simple terms, we recognize patterns in space, and we recognize patterns in time. In space, some artists might use patterns they spot in nature to reduce an unnatural “feeling” in their visual work. In time, a musician might hear rhythmic patterns from one culture, and figure out a way to apply them to their own musical efforts. Often these two pattern types combine, like if a dancer spots trees swaying in the wind; that might suggest some new moves.

    STEM people make use of patterns, too. I can't speak much about the “TEM” part, but the history of the physical Sciences is full of the use of patterns to kick off a line of research. Sometimes the patterns led to great meaning, and sometimes the patterns were meaningless. The point is that the pattern suggested a line of questioning that was worth following.

    In the context of Be the Boss by 12, we spend a lot of time encouraging you to keep your eyes open and watch for what, guys? In order to understand people, we have to watch them for their habits. Habits are behavioral patterns, that is, the things they do over and over again.

    We can ask “time and space” questions about habits, too. In time, is a habit daily, weekly, or whatever? In space, we can ask if a set of special conditions pushes a habit into action. If we look carefully at these time and space questions, we might be able to figure out why a person has a certain habit. We can start to figure out reasons why some people do what they do.

    But we can't rely on a pattern all by itself if we want to answer heavy-duty questions like “why” questions. We can start there, but we have to test the pattern itself to see if it is really going to help us understand something, or if it's going to send us on a while goose chase. After all, for example, just because a pattern motivates someone to do great work doesn't mean it would motivate anyone else. It's nice when one size fits all, but it's not often the case.

    We all experience many patterns on any given day. Some of them trigger our pre-wired attention patterns, and we respond accordingly. But many other patterns don't trigger a response, yet somehow they capture our attention. Even when our brains can't figure out their significances, we still spot them and stop for a moment. In those few seconds, we make a decision to investigate the pattern or move on.

    As a fellow gifted kid, I'd suggest giving patterns a few more seconds of consideration before making that decision. Something big could be there.

    Thomas Meylan, Ph.D.
    Digital Clones, Inc.

    If you wish to respond to this post, please email gntblog at digitalclones dot biz and be sure to include the code G041019 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    Build a Team,
    Learn Big Social Skills

    There are some social stereotypes often attributed to gifted and talented people of all ages. Here are some of the common ones:

    • Gifted people are often too shy to join in a group.
    • Gifted people are too consumed by their interests to break away for social interaction.
    • Gifted people often think too highly of themselves to waste their time on inferior people.
    • Gifted people are on a disorder spectrum of some kind.
    Kids Team

    You can form any kind of group, team, or club that you want; this is a high-value skill. It can be just for fun, or it can be your first business to sell the things you make or do. (photo - duy-pham - unsplash)

    My personal experience indicates that these sterotypes are greatly over-applied. Shyness, for example, is extremely common in all times and places in human history. Then, while gifted people can concentrate on big challenges for extended periods of time, they have a need to “decompress” after hard work just like everybody else. Again, from my experience, there are arrogant gifted people, but in truth, arrogance seems to increase with decreasing capability. As to a disorder spectrum, I just don't know how to respond to that.

    The point is that gifted preferences for group activities aren't different enough to bother with. What is important enough to bother with is the ability to form and enrich a group. This is a highly valuable skill that you can apply to any aspect of your life. This is particularly important as a means to extend your gifts and talents into the real world. If you build up a group of people who are devoted, dedicated, and capable of supporting large-scale efforts based on your skills, you will go places.

    Building a group that's just for fun might be a good way for you to experiment to find your special group-building skills. All you need to do is to bring together people with an interest in doing the same thing for fun. Maybe play games. Maybe work a hobby together. It doesn't matter as long as the group has fun.

    The great thing about a simple group like this is that it teaches you about the different things that help a group enjoy the time together. The right snacks, drinks, music, even the right kind of room. And if you don't have a natural gift for making things fun, be sure to include fun-makers in the group, and watch how they operate. You're gifted enough to learn.

    The leader of a social group like this is called the host. The host doesn't have to be the life of the party; the host just needs to learn how to put the right people into the right setting so that everyone enjoys themselves in their own way. The host, as the leader, sets up the situation, and the situation provides the guests all the clues and tools to find a good time.

    The leader of a working group does things that are kind of similar, but the situation is set up with different clues and tools. My favorite illustration for this focuses on musicians, but any kind of artist or STEM person can use this pattern. If you're musical, you can wait to be discovered while you practice away in your room, or you can produce your own concerts. Producing concerts (or art shows, or hackathons) will be easier if you form a group to help you. Who do you need in your group?

    • Other musicians
    • Someone, or a small team, to get the auditorium, stage, or gym, and run the sound and lights for the show; make sure proper security people are in place
    • Someone to make and put up the posters (and take them down - don't leave trash with your name on it laying around the town)
    • Someone to sell and take the tickets, including someone trustworthy to handle the money
    • Ushers and other people to help the crowd find their places, and help keep order
    • Someone to set up and sell the refreshments
    • Someone to set up and sell the merch (which kind of suggests...)
    • Someone to create the merch

    Sure, that's a lot to organize. I'm not saying you just throw this stuff together. But gifted and talented people can figure out smart ways of getting a team like this to work, and still have fun doing it.

    But, the point of this blog is that figuring out how to make groups work is something you should learn how to do as early as possible. If you're in 6th or 7th grade now and you produce two or three shows a year from now until you graduate from high school, you'll probably be really good at putting successful groups together, as long as you and your groups learn quickly from your mistakes.

    And here's a freebie clue: You will have to teach your team members that they have to follow through on their assignments and promises to achieve success. Keep a kind eye on their progresss, and nudge the member along. OK, and here's a second freebie clue: If someone isn't getting stuff done, you have to ask them to leave the group, and you have to find someone else who can actually get the job done.

    Thomas Meylan, Ph.D.
    Digital Clones, Inc.

    If you wish to respond to this post, please email gntblog at digitalclones dot biz and be sure to include the code G040419 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    A Key Identity Element for Self-empowerment

    If you start out in kindergarten as the biggest kid in class, and you stay one of the biggest kids in class for the next 12 years, you're going to get 12 years of unconscious, but persistent, social stroking that “you are the boss.” It's just the way big mammal species usually work.


    Identity elements empower and dis-empower people. Building and nurturing a self-image of “being in charge” is a critical success factor for any individual, gifted or not. (photo - raphaela-vergud - unsplash)

    If you're a gifted kid, you get a different kind of long-term, social stroking. You get positive feedback for your great talents for 12 years instead. Well, unless you get push-back from family members or bullies at school. One of my best friends in grad school was told by her father that she was still just a silly, little girl the day she showed him her diploma for her Ph.D. in astrophysics. She didn't read “silly, little girl” as a term of endearment in that specific context.

    So, if you're small, or have a disempowering family, what can you do to become a self-empowered gifted kid? Well, we wrote a whole series of ebooks describing how to use the skills that come directly from your gifts to do that, Be the Boss by 12. And the first thing that we strongly recommend for you to do is to make a big decision and a big commitment to one idea. You have to decide to see yourself as a good boss, and you have to operate in school and in the family in a way that helps other people succeed. That's the big mark of a Good Boss, or a Great Leader.

    But you've got to stay committed to building that new belief about yourself. You will figure out a way to believe in yourself as The Boss, and you will figure out a way to make people see you as The Boss, and have confidence in you as The Boss. And why will they have that confidence? Because in little ways and big ways, you help everyone succeed a little bit better than they would have without your help.

    In practice, how might you think of this in your everyday life? Well, depending on your age, you probably already think of yourself in terms of your gifts and talents. “I'm a great guitar player.” “I love astronomy.” “I can't stop drawing everything I see.”

    Let's just add something very simple to each of those sentences: “I'm a great guitar player, and I'm The Boss of my life.” “I love astronomy, and I'm The Boss of my life.” “I can't stop drawing everything I see, and I'm The Boss of my life.” We talk more about these ideas in this video.

    That's the way I'd like you to pair together these two important pieces of your life. What ever it is that drives you to push hard to learn or understand something, you can always add the phrase, “and I'm The Boss of my life.” Just don't say that kind of stuff out loud where anyone can hear you. It's just your message to you alone.

    Thomas Meylan, Ph.D.
    Digital Clones, Inc.

    If you wish to respond to this post, please email gntblog at digitalclones dot biz and be sure to include the code G032819 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    Use Attention Patterns from Gifts to Learn about People

    Gifted kids have a few ready-made attention patterns that serve the growth of their gifts. The budding musician hears something and wants to learn how to make the same sound or music. The pre-school astronomer notices that the shape and size of the moon change with time. The future naturalist notices smells that come and go during a walk through the woods with a parent. These sensations trigger a cascade of pattern-matching algorithms and memory linkages that help the gifted kid build their growing knowledge base.


    The observational skills that a gifted child uses to build knowledge about their interests can also be applied to learning how people around them operate. (photo - japheth-mast - unsplash)

    We can extend this aspect of the gifted and talented experience into other areas of everyday experience. We took a look at attention patterns in a general way last week. Let's look at these in a slightly different way this week.

    One of the reasons we have any attention patterns at all is to save any time we can to understand what might be a dangerous situation. Maybe we see and hear some big changes around us all happening at the same time. Could be that we see lightning and hear thunder. Could be that we see flashing, moving lights and hear sirens. Either one of these could tell us that we need to leave where we are and get somewhere else really fast.

    But the other thing that happens when an attention pattern kicks in is that it pretty much eliminates our ability to pay attention to anything else for a short time. The attention pattern captures our attention to the exclusion of anything else that might be happening.

    So, let's relate this back to those special attention patterns that help gifted kids be gifted. A gifted kid can clamp down on something that's got their attention, and you just try to get their attention back on the rest of the world. They can really concentrate on stuff while in that mode.

    What if we could convert one or two of these powerful attention patterns onto parts of a gifted kid's world that is vitally important to their success, but is also currently of no interest to the kid whatsoever? This would be to apply an attention pattern to the people around them and the way they behave. Why would we want to do this? Because in the future everyone, included gifted people, have to deal with all kinds of decision makers. If you learn how to read people at a young age, it's a skill that pays off huge dividends when building a secure and happy future. View an introductory video on this topic.

    How might a parent go about this? Start at home; just be careful what you ask: “Last night, at the dinner table, what did you think was happening when...?” A typical answer might be, “I didn't notice anything.” There are two ways to work with this answer. One is to remind your child about a specific part of the table conversation of the previous evening, and listen to that response. Another is to simply suggest that in the next day or two you're going to ask the kid about an evening meal time again.

    Over time you can broaden this line of questioning to any place where people watching occurs. Could be a large family gathering. Could be watching people at a park or a mall (if you still have one in your area). Your job in any of these situations will be to draw out not only the raw observations of what your kid sees or hears, but what they think these things might reveal about the people doing them, or saying them.

    Ask your child about the habits, or patterns, or anything that seems to repeat during these people-watching sessions. And then, get to the point where you can ask, “If you had to deal with this person on something important, how would you go about that given how you see them operate?” Ultimately, this is the skill all of us, including gifted people, should be able to use.

    Thomas Meylan, Ph.D.
    Digital Clones, Inc.

    If you wish to respond to this post, please email gntblog at digitalclones dot biz and be sure to include the code G032019 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    Attention Patterns and Social Forces on Gifted Kids

    Let's define what I, Dr. Thomas Meylan, mean by the phrase “social force” within this blog post. A social force is when a (usually unspoken) group opinion makes a group of people treat a specific individual in a certain way. Now, this group opinion arises from a kind of a consensus of all the individual opinions held by group members. Suppose your child is an awesome artist, and everybody likes the child's work. All of the individual opinions are, “This kid is a great artist!” The resulting social force is the numerous, frequent small nudges that everybody gives your child that, “Yeah, you ought to be an artist when you grow up!”


    All kids in class subconsciously apply a “spot the boss” attention pattern on each other, which generates a strong, formative social force within the group. (photo - michael-prewett - unsplash)

    In addition to this “spot the gifted kid” attention pattern, there's another big pattern that we use all through our lives, and it's at work in your gifted child's classroom. It's the “spot the boss” pattern. Like many animals in wild environments, the obvious “boss” characteristics kids observe are size and strength.

    It is hard for small children to appreciate other possible boss-like characteristics. Even someone with attention grabbing gifts won't be able to compete against basic size and strength when it comes to being recognized as the classroom boss.

    Conversely, there's a fairly strong social force that nudges bigger kids into de facto boss roles over the course of their primary and secondary school years. Of course, over ten or twelve years a kid gets used to that, and eventually see themselves as the big kid on campus. And all of this based on a consensus of all of the individual responses of kids to their own attention patterns...no thinking or voting required.

    Now, if a gifted kid is also one of the big kids in class, then this gifted kid will get that 10-12 year stroking by the class to be the boss. But the small gifted kids are only going to feel the social force to pursue the development of their talents. The problem for the smaller kids is that it is usually presumed that a gifted kid's prodigious talent will be adequate to secure the kid a happy life. Well, this is rarely the case!

    The good news is that this “spot the boss” attention pattern actually has more parts to it than size and strength. Be the Boss by 12 shows what all the parts to this pattern are, and how any gifted kid can make use of them. We provide ideas on how gifted kids can compete with bigger kids for more classroom visibility and encouragement to take on more group leadership roles. View an introductory video on this topic.

    A parent may ask, “Why would I want my kid to be a boss?” This is easy to answer. Think on how many good bosses you've worked for, and how greatly they've appreciated the gifts and talents you bring to the job. How many of those bosses just looked out for you like you were the most special person in the company? For most people, this isn't a big number. That's the world your gifted child is heading for.

    In the very least, a gifted child can learn how to stand toe-to-toe with any of the decision makers they will meet, and negotiate work for the full value of their developed talents. They might not have to be a boss, but there's a lot of self-empowerment in being able to interact with a boss on a peer-to-peer basis.

    That being said, these kids could, in fact, be the boss of their own businesses based on their exceptional skills and talents. In my case, I always told myself, “If I'm smart enough to run an astrophysics research center for NASA, I'm smart enough to beat businessmen at their own game.” It was completely true. There are many aspects of the gifted and talented experience that can be translated into effective forms of social leadership. There's rarely anything new to add, only another application of great talent to build.

    Thomas Meylan, Ph.D.
    Digital Clones, Inc.

    If you wish to respond to this post, please email gntblog at digitalclones dot biz and be sure to include the code G031619 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    Exploring the World, Natural Skepticism, Gifted Critical Thinking

    You don't want anybody getting hurt, but sometimes you still just gotta laugh! I was reading through posts on a Facebook group to find something to blog on. Boy, did I luck out! There's a picture of a young lady with a burnt-looking strip on her tongue, and a caption that outed her as a gifted kid who still had to try the frozen pole experiment.

    Tongue Frozen to Pole

    “If they're so gifted, how come they still do stupid things?”,
    say many siblings.

    Just by way of personal confession (no, I never tried it), I like this parent's post because it affirms something I write in this blog every so often: “You have a gifted child, not an alien from another planet.” On the other hand, maybe an alien from a warm planet would try the frozen pole thing, assuming it had a tongue, anyway.

    All healthy kids, gifted or otherwise, explore their world from the same starting point; a complete lack of experience of the world. There ain't no special wisdom here. They just don't know stuff, they're curious, and immediate experience is something the kids are trying to learn how to control. Sure, the gifted kid is sometimes going to give you that “I'm gonna do it, anyway” look. They're trying to learn how to control you, too.

    And, of course, they usually hate the big surprise when it turns out that you were right. “Don't touch the stove! It's hot...”

    There were a few parents who posted similar stories to the initial post. A couple of them mused about skepticism as possibly driving gifted kids to test various common warnings. I wouldn't rule skepticism out of hand, but I think it's just kids being kids.

    That being said, could goofy, little events like these be teachable moments for something a little bit bigger? What if parents could use these events to train a skill that could lead to skepticism of a kind practiced by scholars and scientists? What if we could begin to practice critical thinking with all of our kids?

    Let me give you a grownup example of a person who, even though extremely well educated, did not make use of critical thinking as often as he could have. It's a family situation, winter holidays in the Great Lakes region. The “uneducated” women decided that it would be fun to make ice cream, and that the snow would make an excellent freezing agent (just add salt, really works great!). Well, it was 38 degrees F that day. The educated man (again, not me) asserted that the snow would be too warm to freeze the ice cream, and he wasn't kidding. The women knew he was wrong by years of experience; they just didn't know why. Of course, the ice cream was awesome, and the educated man topped his with crow.

    Like the kids warned about licking frozen metal objects, he could have just accepted the knowledge of experienced people. OK, if he didn't want to do that, he could have done a little investigation into the physics of water, and found out for himself that ice could always be colder than 32 degrees, but if the water was solid (you know, ice), then it can never be warmer than 32 degrees.

    With our kids, all we have to do is coach them to go look it up, and then come back to think through what they find out. It's a humble beginning, but it's one way to help all kids to pick up some skills in critical thinking.

    Thomas Meylan, Ph.D.
    Digital Clones, Inc.

    If you wish to respond to this post, please email gntblog at digitalclones dot biz and be sure to include the code G030519 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    A Child's Drive to Make Sense of the World

    There's a two-part instinct at work in a typically healthy child's young life. It can be expressed in this two-part question: “How do my surroundings work, and what skills do I need to succeed in this environment?” For gifted kids we can think of this instinct as being accelerated, sometimes in broad terms, and sometimes only in one narrow aspect of life.

    Thinking Girl

    “How does this crazy planet work?”
    (photo - joseph-gonzalez - unsplash)

    These kids are looking for any clues they can find to build up a set of success behaviors. They observe, and they mimic. What works is defined by some pretty sophisticated feedback loops, everything from needs satisfied to positive social interaction. We observe the rules that they identify in their surroundings through the behavioral habits they build.

    For the Be the Boss by 12 ebook series, we've taken a “rules-based” approach towards a child's self-empowerment. Even for gifted kids, “rules” seem to fit better into their worldview than “principles” (a few exceptional kids aside). Once a child has adequate language skills, we can help the child put words to the rules they observe at work in their surroundings. When the child asks the proverbially frustrating question “Why?”, we just as easily and constructively ask, “Why do you think?”

    As parents, we have to build our own habits to engage our gifted child's questions with the speed of a reflex. This doesn't mean to supply the answers; engagement is usually experienced as a dialog, and questions drive your child's gifts. Every question is a child's mini-research project. “How do I get your sound out of my musical instrument?” “How do I get the light to do what I want in my painting or photograph?” “What do I really need to understand to be the kind of public servant this country needs?”

    There will be questions that don't come up on their radar screens, and you'll have to supply them. These often will pertain to the social rules at play in their surroundings, both at home and out in public. Why don't we say certain words? Why don't we do certain things? So you ask, “What kind of speech, or what kind of acts, create scary things on the news?” So you ask, “If you knew a school friend wasn't getting enough food, what could you do about it?”

    How do you help you child discover rules to interact with people as if your child were a respect-worthy adult, instead of a smarty-pants kid? Or worse, a wall flower or a doormat?

    No doubt, your child's personal search for working life rules will lead you to gaps in your own knowledge and understand about life. This generates an awesome learning opportunity for both of you. Work it, don't miss it.

    Thomas Meylan, Ph.D.
    Digital Clones, Inc.

    If you wish to respond to this post, please email gntblog at digitalclones dot biz and be sure to include the code G022719 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    Connecting to your Gifted Child's Experience

    Dad loved picking my brain, and figuring out the next thing I was ready to learn. Mom...not so much. Once I started reading, she seemed kind of intimidated by what I was up to. Even if I reached out to engage her, she usually said something to the effect that I didn't need her help.

    Parent and Child

    Connecting to your child's sense of wonder is a wonder all its own! (photo - james-wheeler - unsplash)

    Well, OK, I knew that, but I wanted to hang out with her a little bit, especially after Dad died.

    Some people seem to know how to hang with a bright, little person, and most don't. Many people get a sense of prestige out of having a gifted kid, others find the care and maintenance a struggle.

    As I've said in the past, relax! It's a child, not an alien from space.

    Relating to a gifted person is just like relating to anyone else. The most important skill is listening! Just ask a simple question, sit back, and let the answer happen. You don't even have to understand the answer; just encourage the dialog. And if you want to get some explanation on something, again, just ask for what you want.

    Here's the deal: We rarely take the time to learn how to see the world through someone else's eyes, especially the eyes of our grownup peers. Usually, we don't want to see things their way. But our children, well, that's something different. It's not that your gifted child teaches you new things. It's that the child might show you a totally different world.

    Engagement and connection are enriching for both your child and you. Simple questions, open-minded listening. With a little practice, conversation with your gifted child can be enriching in a multitude of directions.

    Thomas Meylan, Ph.D.
    Digital Clones, Inc.

    If you wish to respond to this post, please email gntblog at digitalclones dot biz and be sure to include the code G021919 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    Open Discussion:
    Child Size/Age, Grade Skipping and
    Future Destiny Control

    DISCLAIMER: There are no answers here! The question of moving a gifted kid up a grade or two comes up frequently. One of the more compelling reasons to consider doing this is to relieve the frustration of a child whose chronologically appropriate classroom setting does not offer adequate stimulation.

    big and little kids

    Life-long social habits can be affected by years of being “the small kid.” (photo - jordan-whitt - unsplash)

    Looking strictly at gift-driven skills development, independent of any other factors, I have no problem with a child taking off as fast as they can. I did, and it didn't hurt me a bit. But my interests were largely extra-curricular, so skipping grades didn't come up. However, even if it had, I was a physically huge kid, bigger than most kids two or three grades older. My gifts and my size pretty much dictated that I was a class leader, and after 12 years of public school, I got really used to that.

    The thing that surprises me about the gifted and talented experience is how deeply it is that socially conditioned habits drive the gifted person's everyday behavior. The two strongest conditioning contexts are home and school. Crudely speaking, personal interaction habits form at home, and professional interaction habits form at school. Through strictly non-verbal cues, I learned the professional interactions of The Boss. The small kids developed the habits of treating me like The Boss.

    This is just one data point, a solitary example. But in a very primitive way, kids frequently sort out their status by size and by age. If a child gets moved up a grade or two, how do we support the gifted child to avoid falling into “small kid” social habits?

    Our plan at Digital Clones is to shift the status game from size and age to the powers of giftedness. The ebook series Be the Boss by 12 is built to boost the gifted kid toward top social status in a socially responsible way. We're not going to create any Napoleons. Part of the climb to high status explicitly includes the use of structured collaboration as a primary leadership tool.

    In an upcoming volume, we map out the main leadership markers at work in primary and secondary school settings. Using this map, we make suggestions on how certain gifts and skills can be applied to highlight leadership markers that fit the gifted child's natural aptitudes and temperament. In most cases, and on their own terms, a gifted kid will be able to compete successfully with bigger and older kids for more empowering social roles.

    In any event, I only wanted to point out that jumping grades solves some problems, but may create others. But also, I believe there's an effective way to manage potential downsides. Furthermore, the more advanced your child is, the more quickly they will understand the long term social implications of grade jumping. Just keep talking with your wonderful child!

    Thomas Meylan, Ph.D.
    Digital Clones, Inc.

    If you wish to respond to this post, please email gntblog at digitalclones dot biz and be sure to include the code G021319 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    The Fork in the Road between
    Mastery and Defeat

    My favorite musician and one of my most cherished friends, Charlie, told me a story about one of his friends who was greeted by a gushing fan at the end of a great jazz concert. She said, “I'd give my life to play like you do!”, to which Charlie's friend replied, “I did!

    Girl with Violin

    Gifts are the source of potential. Mastery, though, will always require dedication, much time, and much hard work. (photo - jan-strecha - unsplash)

    I have to confess: my gifts set me up for frustration every once in a while. Not so much when I was really little, but certainly once I started applying myself systematically to my interests in astronomy. As I read posts in various Facebook feeds about young math geniuses at 4, 5, and 6 years old, well, I get a little green with envy. I had to sweat bullets to crack the math code.

    It's an awesome thing when anyone attempts to stretch beyond yesterday's capabilities and achieve more today. Many gifted kids get kind of used to this: they just pick up today from where they left off yesterday. But eventually, a gifted kid hits the first barrier in progress, and are unexpectedly baffled.

    The responses of kids at this point range from a new pleasure in this type of challenge to utter emotional collapse at the first experience of failure. Obviously, there is no “one size fits all” approach to this situation. Well, except to say that mastery never comes easily.

    We can help a child to see that these types of barriers are an integral part of the gifted life, even, perhaps, the gifted lifestyle. Gifts are great, but mastery is the power we build from our gifts. Mastery is built through overcoming the barriers to our goals. There's a habit of mental toughness that a gifted child must develop to keep the child focused on beating the barrier and achieve breakthrough to a new level of gifted experience.

    The younger the child is when they hit their first frustration the harder it will be for the parent to engage the issue. Listen carefully. Help your child find the next step, any little step, that makes a little progress. Every bit of progress is a little victory to show that a little mental toughness works.

    Helping your child find the next little step builds confidence. Eventually the child will figure out how to look for small steps of progress, and enjoy life better because of this great, little tool.

    Thomas Meylan, Ph.D.
    Digital Clones, Inc.

    If you wish to respond to this post, please email gntblog at digitalclones dot biz and be sure to include the code G013019 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    How it works — Prepare a Genius for Adult Life

    Boss by 12 Cover

    The gifts will mostly take care of themselves.


    Build emotional toughness
    into the child's inner dialog.


    Teach the child to project
    the social cues of "The Boss."

    Be the Boss by 12, Volume Zero: Parents' Prep
    Available Now!