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    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 G013019 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.

    Your Child Perceives Much.
    Teach Them Understanding.

    “I don't understand my gifted kid. I barely understand my own life. How am I supposed to teach this bright kid how to understand anything?” many parents say. Well, let's start out with something simple. Just ask them what they are experiencing. For any event you and your child experience together simply ask, "What do you think of that?" Take their words at face value, and work with that.

    Cyclops Painting

    Your child experiences just about everything a little bit differently than you do. Just listen as they tell you what they think is going on. (photo - mr-tt - unsplash)

    In most cultures, a parent is the first mentor a person gets. There are cases where this mentorship last a lifetime. The point is that there is a ready made relationship for a child of any capability to learn from. All it requires is the availability and dedication of the parent.

    In the youngest years it's obvious that even an exceptional child will have difficulties of expression. You two practice together. Language becomes stronger faster, perhaps for both of you. You learn the child's mind while the child learns language and effective communication.

    Now comes the fun part, no, really, fun. You can start asking more incisive questions, and the trust built previously assures your child that the questions are vital modes of learning. For example, in the Be the Boss by 12 ebook series we make very heavy use of patterns that a kid can observe in everyday circumstances. Together, you and your child can start watching out for patterns, and what you can learn about people by those patterns.

    And then there are also patterns to be uncovered in the topics which interest your child. If it's the arts, there's a deep relationship between technique and patterns. In STEM studies, patterns define a primary study, followed by what is learned by examining those things that don't follow the pattern. All of these observations can be open for discussion between you and your gifted child.

    So, yes, this is a form of learning and growing together. You will start out as the guide, but as time marches along, your child will increasingly point your attention to interesting and important things that you didn't spot. You both can have the excitement of exploration right there in your everyday lives.

    Just ask a question. Just listen to the answer. Fill the knowledge gap when your child needs it. Be thrilled when your child teaches you.

    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 G012319 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    Don't Want Your Child to Be a Leader?
    Then Who Do You Want the Child to Follow?

    “Bosses and leaders are jerks,” many parents say. “I don't want my kid to be a jerk.” Well, I don't believe the world needs more jerks either, so what are we trying to do here at Digital Clones?

    Child as Leader

    The options for your child's life are lead, follow, or self-
    isolation. We recommend leading, but it's your choice.
    (photo - Ariel Skelley - dissolve)

    Many people blather about empowerment. A fan of personal growth can seek self-empowerment. A good boss empowers their people to perform their job duties well. There are some versions of empowerment that may operate in a vacuum, but most of them do not. Even when not explicitly so stated, empowerment pertains to social interactions.

    Especially where gifted and talented people are concerned, the abilities to sell yourself and negotiate are vital. If a gifted kid waits for the deal to come, they'll probably make their living like any other ungifted individual. You have to know how to build relationships with big decision makers when you're gifted and talented, or you're stuck with following some non-descript boss. You don't have to be a jerk about it. You just have to be effective in selling yourself to so-called big shots.

    That covers, in short, simple terms, making an enjoyable living through the use of gifts and talents. But how does a gifted person operate if their interests require the contributed efforts of a team? If that's the case, then the gifted person needs to be able to utilize the broadest possible spectrum of true leadership skills. Again, the point isn't to become a jerk to bully the rest of the band members into submission. The point is to amplify the gifts and talents of team members to leap into another whole level of creativity and productivity, and that everyone enjoys the ride.

    If a leader has a mission, and feels a passion for it, then their strongest play to succeed is to lead in a way where people also feel a passion to do their best for the mission. Passionate contributors to a mission often learn how to exceed themselves, a very exhilarating state. My personnel at NASA often felt it. So did my team at Verizon. We all “spiraled up” instead of spiraling down...no jerks to be found.

    Bosses can be jerks. Leaders can be jerks. But those are character flaws, not a defining component of leadership. And if you ever worked for a great boss, you at least know that it's possible.

    We view leadership as a way that allows gifted and talented kids to self-empower, and to empower those around them.

    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 G011719 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    Using Gifts to Train Adult Social Skills in Children

    My parents weren't thinking about my future when they trained me “to be seen and not heard.” On the opposite end of this lack of vision for the future are parents that teach some form of abrasiveness as a way to control people around them. A gifted kid needs none of these. The gifted child can become skillful in building an engaged network at virtually any age, the younger the better. The key is to provide safe, small venues for your child to show creative work, build stage presence, and learn how to use feedback from people as they show their stuff.


    Train you child in social skills by having them show their
    creative work to you and other adults. The ability to speak
    peer-to-peer with adults is a critical success factor in life.
    (photo - nik-macmillan - unsplash)

    There is a secondary reason for providing show and tell opportunities like this for your gifted child. This mode of family-based training generates a totally distinct path to success that circumvents the test-based, competitor-packed, needlessly high-pressure educational system. That's not to say that the educational system doesn't provide value to the gifted child. This is only to suggest that the gifted child can master the traditional, one-size fits all curriculum to obtain those needed skills while in a very natural way also receives solid preparation for successful adult living within a nurturing, family context.

    Back to the method. Obviously, not every child is ready or willing to share their work with anyone. But the younger you start asking your child to see their work and ask them to tell you about it the better. Fewer social barriers are in place with younger children. In many cases the willingness to please will still operate in the child's behaviors, and they will share happily.

    As time goes on, you expand the audience. Along with the expanded audience you discuss other learning experiences with your gifted child. The main learning skill to add is the ability to ask for and receive constructive feedback in a grownup manner. This is, in fact, the skill to learn from your mistakes, and from the guidance of others. These are abilities that will accelerate both the growth and maturation of gifts and talents, and the speed with which your child can construct paths to success as often as needed.

    Any gift or talent can be amplified through this approach. Performance gifts are obvious: little shows that get increasingly complex with age. Creative gifts require only the most basic show and tell approach to get started, moving on to informal shows held frequently at the house. STEM gifts start with basic show and tell, too, and with time you add adult friends who share the interest or have some background in the child's passions.

    This method can be tailored to any form of age appropriateness your child requires. The youngest of children only need a litte, but frequent, interaction. A little older, ask increasingly challenging questions about what your child is doing. When it appears to make sense, start introducing interested adults into the mix with dinners where the adults are asked to engage the child concerning the child's interests. Eventually these events become a mix of dinners and presentations, and hopefully, question and answer sessions.

    The objective is to lead your child up to handling adult, team-oriented experiences as soon as the child feels able. This is the kind of context where your child will have to build a career, sell new ideas, and actually lead people into preceiving a new vision of gifts and talents.

    And the good news is, this requires nothing more than your time, and the time of a few interested adults. Doesn't require testing. Doesn't require school system cooperation. Just your time.

    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 G011019 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    Stepping Aside from the “Adversarial Temptation”

    In business it is frequently encouraged to “lead by example.” What? Is this a choice? The leader is always taken as an example, whether they are good or bad examples. Abusive leaders usually lead to abusive employees. Team-building leaders often generate habits of team building in their employees.


    You see your child as gifted and talented. Others may not agree. What can you do? (photo - atpwign - unsplash)

    How does this relate to you if you're involved in the life of a gifted and talented kid? As you know, any kid is an information sponge, and they learn how to approach life from your example. Your household routines have already become the routines of your gifted kid. Your language is the language of your child. And all through a kid's life, they will follow examples of family members and bosses.

    We monitor several online groups and channels that support the gifted and talented experience. A number of them are dominated by entries where parents have trouble with members of their extended family, or difficulties dealing with the local school system. Many of these parents succumb to the temptation to take an adversarial stance toward people they experience as difficult.

    Now, gifted kids usually see this, and often view themselves as the cause of family trouble because of it. Some of them also develop the habit of chronically seeing the world through adversarial filters. These are not the effects that loving parents want for their gifted kid. What's a more constructive alternative?

    Let's start with the difficult school system. Before “gifted and talented” was a thing, there was just us little geniuses rattling around in school. No special programs of any kind. We didn't need them. We built our own programs. Some of us got private music lessons. Some of us got microscopes and chemistry sets...and we really used them. If there were resources at school we could use, we used them. If there were teachers who would take the time to mentor us, we related to them. If there weren't, no problem. We figured it all out by ourselves.

    The data strongly imply that gifted and talented programs are marketing strategies for standardized testing companies. What do those guys know that your gifted kid doesn't? Nuthin'! Instead of buying into the testing company system (and needlessly spending really big bucks), collaborate with your kid to construct your own genius development program. Find a couple informal mentors to help you and your kid. Invest in special lessons or tutoring now and then to break through specific subject matter barriers.

    When you avoid adversarial efforts with the school system, you save good energy to collaborate with your child. You side-step demonstrating adversarial habits to your child. It might be a small team, but teaming with your child to create the path to personal power and success will pay off more greatly than fighting with any third party ever will.

    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 G121318 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!