Growing Courageous Kids

(& Parents!)

How being gifted means being different

Blogging on this site is generally on hold for now, but I came across this and wanted to save…the plight of gifted kids that do not also have gifted social intelligence. Good summary of salient points. I especially resonate due to the fact that I teach social & emotional intelligence to kids as a counselor/coach. Also a topic near and dear to my heart…as Kermit says, “It’s not easy being green!” (Different) even when you’ve become adept, due to EQ/SQ, at hiding it.

The Upside Down World

gifted childrenOver the last couple of years I have spent time off and on doing research into giftedness and living with unusually high intelligence.  It has been far more interesting and enlightening than I expected.  So I figured I would share some of what I have learned with y’all.  Today I will focus on some of the differences which tend to be characteristic of those with unusually high intelligence.  Tomorrow, I’ll get into why so many gifted people have a hard time recognizing themselves as gifted and why it is so important for them to understand their giftedness and teach their children to do the same.

First, the differences.  I always figured that high intelligence was just about how a person learns new information and skills.  What I have found out, however, is that high intelligence entails not just being able to learn new things quickly and easily, but affects a…

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Just an FYI if you stop by here. This blog is on a temporary hiatus (is that redundant?).  I’m still passionate about kids and all things learning, but don’t have a community yet to blog with and I’m spending my time on the other blogs…

You can go to for other writing

and is my personal blog

Until sometime next year!



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Chemistry & The New Girl (Guest Blog)

Chemistry and The New Girl in School: Formula for Relational Aggression

September 11th, 2012

By Jane Balvanz, MSE, RPT
Professional School Counselor

New GirlHaving or working with children makes us future-oriented.  We want the best for our kids, so we’re always preparing them for what may lie ahead.  We send them to school, so they can learn the skills necessary to become self-reliant adults.  At home they learn ways of being modeled by us.  And, anywhere they have friends or classmates, they are learning relationship skills in the here and now.

Two’s Company and Three’s a Whole Different Story

As the saying goes – two’s company and three’s a crowd – a triad of friends often has its troubles.  Early on, this is because kids are just learning to negotiate one-on-one friendships.  Adding one more to the mix is something they’re developmentally unprepared to do.  Time and exposure to more kids will help them develop relationship skills in groups.  Whereas some children have achieved this skill in preschool, it might take others until second grade.

Chemistry and Variables

When a new girl enters school, there’s always a shift in energy and relationships.  This is true for any age.  While this may be of lesser consequence to early elementary age girls, it becomes greater with age.  There are more variables.  Consider these: established groups, romantic interests, organized sports, clubs and organizations, sleepovers, competition for grades or other honors, long-lived friendships, established routines, and more.  Add a new girl to the mix, and the entire chemistry changes.

 Shifts Happen

The new girl has the possibility of becoming the target of relational aggression, but her impact is so much more.  I’ve seen this play out a million different ways.  There’s been the sophisticated, edgy new sixth grader who quickly became the leader of the pack.  She ran the show and decided who was the odd girl out week-by-week.  She hadn’t any seniority, but that didn’t matter.  She ruled.  Then there was the new one who was talented in dance and immediately dethroned the local Dancing Queen (DQ).  DQ rallied her forces and made this new girl’s life miserable.

Change Behind the Scenes

A more typical scenario, though, is the addition of a new girl whose mere presence widely changes the dynamics of many relationships.  Here’s an example.  Mary is the new girl and has readily been accepted into Ellen’s group consisting of Nia, Sarah, Jenn, Guadalupe, and Alice.  Mary’s presence loosens Ellen’s ties with Nia a bit.  No one even notices and no one minds.  Nia becomes closer to Fiona, a girl on her soccer team.  Because of the new group dynamics, Jenn and Sarah drift apart.  Though there’s nothing personal, Jenn finds another group more suitable to her. Keesha moves in and takes her place.  Mary and Keesha immediately become BFFs and do everything together.  So far, no harm, no foul, and the story could easily end here.

The Addition of One and the Domino Effect

What we’re dealing with is displacement from the addition of a new person.  It’s like adding a new ingredient to soup.  It changes everything.  Contents shift. Some may like it, some not.  So, let’s continue setting upright our line of dominoes.

Nia brings Fiona into the group.  Guadalupe and Fiona have never liked each other, and tension builds.  Guadalupe convinces Alice to triangulate against Fiona.  Ellen, who hates conflict, leaves all the drama behind by seeking quieter friends.  All the dominoes have fallen.

Does my scenario seem far-fetched?  I assure you it’s true, and I even simplified so you could follow it.  When you’re able to watch the same kids over time, you have the opportunity to watch how kids grow and change.  You also see how one teeny addition to a system – one girl – can make a big change.  Luckily, there was only one example relational aggression: Alice and Guadelupe against Fiona.

Helping Girls Learn to Adjust to Change and Avoid Relational Aggression

A new girl doesn’t mean automatic trouble, but her addition does mean change.  Even in adulthood, adding a new person to a work or social environment creates some type of displacement and change.  We learn to accept it and change, or we decide to leave that environment.  Our kids need to learn how to do this, too.  Here are some tips to help.

  1. Don’t try to make her every disappointment better.
  2. Do allow kids to make mistakes and learn from them.
  3. Don’t talk negatively about the girls your daughter hangs out with.
  4. Do let girls determine for themselves the strengths and weaknesses of their friends.
  5. Don’t offer gifts or rewards to help a girl through change.
  6. Do listen to and talk with a girl to process her feelings about change.
  7. Don’t join a girl’s pity party for herself.
  8. Do help her break down the problem into solvable or acceptable parts.
  9. Don’t warn a girl about every possible thing that could go wrong in a friendship.
  10. Do teach girls that friendships that don’t feel good need communication to figure out what’s wrong.  Do teach her to leave friendships that feel one-sided with unequal and negative power.

© 2012 A Way Through, LLC

Bullying strategists Jane Balvanz and Blair Wagner publish GAPRA’s bi-weekly articles. If you’re ready to guide children in grades K – 12 through painful friendships and emotional bullying:For help with emotional bullying:

For the When Girls Hurt Girls® program:

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BraveGirl Running...Life, Faith & Sport

Can you change your Monkey Mind?

I’m starting an experiment and inviting you to join me. The brain and the concept of change has always fascinated me intellectually, amazed me in working with clients and frustrated me personally as I watched  hard earned gains in certain areas of my life vanish after a bout of intense stress or depression.  Don’t you just hate that?

From studying the brain, I know that change is possible. We can “re-wire” our brains so that our default preferences are reset. Sometimes, it can happen instantly and other times it takes a bit of consistent repetition—a kind of reprogramming.  Regardless, I find it all goes better when other people are involved. Even the Buddhist monks, now famous for the changes in their brains from years and years of meditating, did a lot of that together as a group.

It’s time to join forces and…

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Courage v. Confidence

The Path to Personal Courage

What do you think about cultivating courage in your personal actions? How necessary is a high level of confidence to the task?

An element that is extremely useful for understanding concepts that are life-transforming comes from Thomas Leonard’s idea of coaching distinctions. Here we are looking at a post by Tom Morris using the famous analogy of Plato’s Cave to explore the difference between confidence and courage.

The only way out of the cave was well known to Plato, and was highly regarded by his student, Aristotle. It is the path of personal courage. Aristotle understood courage as a primary virtue, or strength, in human life. He saw it as a midway point between the extremes and vices of timidity and temerity – or the overly cautious capitulation to fear, on the one hand, and the irrational disregard of danger, on the other. Courage recognizes challenge, understands risk, and while fully cognizant of danger, moves forward with the insight that the best path to the future demands positive action now.

We’ve heard a lot of talk recently about the absence of confidence to be found throughout America, and our pressing need for much more. Confidence is an attitude expectant of success and is a universal facilitator of achievement in situations of uncertainty, as many of the great philosophers have understood. We do indeed need more of this quality than we’re demonstrating right now across the culture. But the virtue of courage can be even more important in a situation of dark threats and daunting anxieties. Deep within the cave, our first need is to be brave.

A courageous person does what’s right rather than what’s easy. He does what’s needed rather than what’s expected. He’s willing to take a chance to make a positive difference. He’s not rash in his actions, or careless in his commitments. And yet he’s not so cautious as to remain trapped in chains of fear. A confident person believes that his actions will succeed. A courageous person may start out only hoping that they will. He does what he thinks he should do, regardless of his degree of confidence. And then, quite often and wonderfully, the actions arising from that courage help to build up and justify the confidence that then works to support him as he goes on.

I love the distinction regarding how a courageous person may not have the confidence to act, yet still does; that courage compels one to move forward in the face of anxiety and fear; that the same courage then can increase our confidence when one is on the other side of the fear by stepping through inertia and moving forward.

What is one way that you acted courageously recently?

How do you instill this courage in your children?

Please share your comments below.

Have a courageous day!


To Strive or Not to Strive…

In the past month, I jumped in with both feet to the “twitterverse,” which is a way of communicating with tons of people via “micro-blogging” (only 140 characters per “tweet”/entry). Imagine going to party and being privy to everyone’s conversations at once! There are a lot of amazing people there that I have met and I’m excited to meet hundreds more.

In reading people’s twitter-names and bios, I’ve noticed some talk about “striving” for a particular goal, task or life-style.

Ahhh. Striving.

I react strongly to that word. I learned many years ago that life is much better if I don’t strive, but rather allow myself to be moved into “inspired action” as my coach calls it. This is true for me especially in a spiritual context. I don’t want to strive here; instead I surrender and yield to God’s Spirit that leads to living a life of LOVE.

Maybe, I’m reacting to semantics, but for me, striving is hard work—going against the natural flow and relying on my soul/mind effort versus letting inspiration flow through me, leading me, pulling me along, into action.

This isn’t to say that we don’t work hard, persevere and live a disciplined life.

Our kids need to learn persistence and discipline for their courageous foundation. Understanding that they don’t need to “try”, but rather CAPTURE the ideas when they flow, RESPOND when inspiration flows, SURRENDER by living in the present moment and not worrying about the future.*

We need to work hard, yes. Develop persistence, yes. But to strive and live in constant tension…NO. I don’t think striving is worth it.

What do you think? Are you happier when you strive? Let me know!

*Thanks to the “Conscious Achievers” in Life Coach Mary’s Success & Inner Peace Bootcamp for these ideas and insights!

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Resilience: Tromping Through Tall (poopy) Grass

Sometimes it’s really gross to put resilience into practice…

One key of resilience that is foundational to courage is the ability to “just do it anyway”.

Most functioning adults have learned this.

Kate is a mother of three rowdy, vivacious, amazing children. Yet, like most kids today these normally high energy kids can very easily slip into unmotivated lazy couch potato mode. Who hasn’t been there?!

One morning, this hard working mother planned to go for a walk on the beach with a friend to de-stress, exercise and do something positive for herself–All important in any busy mom’s life.

But she also knew her family.

If she didn’t get them moving for the day before she left, they would grumble and complain about being bored…sound familiar?

So, she buckled down into her “just do it anyway” mode.

After asking hubby dear what his plan was she learned that the dog poop was in the way of the boys getting much needed yard work done. The grass was very, very tall. Ah ha.

She set to picking up the poop in the tall grass. Not an easy, clean or pleasant task, but she “did it anyway”.

When the family saw her working they got up and started moving themselves. Soon the yard work started!

Kate enjoyed her walk knowing that she modeled the “just do it anyway” attitude for her kids, so they got motivated for the day.

Sometimes, resilience means courage to get dog poop on your shoes.

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What does Courage mean to you?

As I have been writing about a courageous foundation for our kids, I realized that it is a concept that encircles many important ideas and traits. I want to hear what courage means to you as a parent, or person that works with children.

For one writer, courage is closely linked to integrity, achievement and effectiveness:

All good-willed parents want their kids to obtain healthy and honorable achievement, but currently we’re handcuffing them with nice-sounding intentions that dissipate when applied to the real world. Good behavior alone won’t fly; it was never designed to. We need to guide our children to achievement not fulfilled upon the broken backs of others—which leaves in its wake resentment, bitterness, and cynicism—but instead toward achievement that’s nourishing for themselves and others. This is especially relevant in America, a nation awash in ambition, much of which is good, some of which is bad. It takes courage to follow integrity because that often means taking the longer and harder route.

For the whole blog click here.

Enjoy! And please let me know what you think with a short (or long) comment! Thanks!

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Everyday Tools: Clear Your Brain with Post-its!

A key to being courageous is resourcefulness. When you feel like you have choices, opportunities and many ways to manage your life, it’s easier to brave about it all.

There are tons of study tools out there related to time management and organization. This was a major area of focus when I worked at an educational therapist (learning specialist). You would think I would remember to put all these into practice for myself! Alas…

This short video reminds us of a simple technique you can use with your kids (and yourself!) to get a handle on the “to do’s” in your life. 🙂

Enjoy Perry’s fast talking enthusiasm!

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