Category Archives: Gifted

A Few Questions about Gifted Adults and their “Rainforest Minds” with Author Paula Prober

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This summer my friend Paula Prober, a licensed therapist, released her first book. The title, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth {Amazon Affiliate Link}, comes from her popular blog. The phrase “rainforest mind” is a brilliant description of the multi-faceted experience of living with giftedness.

In October Paula graciously sent me a copy from her personal stash. When finished reading it, I posted this review via Amazon:

“Having had the honor of seeing the author’s SENG presentation in San Jose a few years back, I was eager to see how she took her ideas and insights from the talk to the page. Prober did not disappoint. In fact, what she has written for GHF Press is an essential book for therapists and gifted advocates hoping to grasp a better idea of gifted adults. What I found especially helpful are the many resources identified in the text. Hopefully readers will take these suggestions to heart, follow up on them, and begin to amplify discussions of “rainforest minds” online and in their communities.”

Shortly thereafter I sent the newly minted author a few question “clusters,” the answers to which she generously allowed me to share here with you. What I loved about her reply is that they reflect Paula’s clear, honest, and insightful writing–the same content you’ll find if you purchase the book. (Scroll down past the cover to see her responses.)

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Q: One of the recurring stories that comes up in the gifted advocacy community is the adult who comes to understand his/her own giftedness through the identification of giftedness (and/or twice-exceptionality) in a child. Can you talk broadly about issues you see related to multi-generational “rainforest minds”? Are there two or three specific actions or habits can families develop to create safe, welcoming family environments and nurturing relationships for gifted adults and youth?

A: I often see that as well: “multi-generational rainforest minds” Here are a few of my suggestions for parents based on the issues that I see in these families:

  • Practice simply listening and reflecting feelings when your child is having a meltdown. Keep breathing so that you can stay calm. Don’t take the extreme emotion personally. (None of this is easy. You may want to meltdown yourself.) Problem solve with your child once the storm is over and let your child offer solutions so that the whole family is collaborating. Explain that having a rainforest mind means having passionate feelings that can at times be overwhelming. (for you, too)
  • Ask your child to imagine a large container to hold his/her intense emotions when it’s not safe or wise to express them. When your child returns home, the emotions can be released. Have a list handy of positive ways to release emotions. Your child can choose from the list.
  • Avoid power struggles by responding to requests with: “Let me think about it and I’ll get back to you.”
  • Make a list of ways you can relax and soothe yourself. Make the time to do them! Take breaks from your kids. Practice self-soothing techniques with your child.
  • Your child will not be irreparably harmed if you make a mistake! When you apologize, you give your child permission to err and you demonstrate how to manage mistakes.
  • If you’re noticing that you’re over-reacting repeatedly to your child’s intensities or schooling troubles, it may be because your own difficult childhood experiences are being triggered. This might be the time to find a good counselor to address your own issues. In my experience, when parents enter counseling, the whole multi-generational system benefits!

Excellent resources related to this parenting gifted kids can be found at Charlotte Reznick at imageryforkids.com, and via the Hoagie’s and Gifted Homeschoolers Forum blog hops (see here and here). The blog hops are on particularly important topics and are written by parents and professionals.

Q: In light of eldercare and parenting and the “Sandwich Generation,” can you talk about the ways stress can rattle a mid-life rainforest mind–and what, if anything, they can do to combat it?

A: Because you have a rainforest mind, you may believe that you have to excel at all things. And you may, in fact, excel at many (all?) things. And yet. Parenting a gifted child is challenging enough. Add eldercare, and you will surely be rattled. Seriously and exceedingly rattled. Repeatedly. You will have to say goodbye to your unhealthy perfectionism.

This means that you have to admit that you have limits, to ask for help and to take breaks. For the welfare of all of your family members, it will be more important than ever to take care of yourself by doing activities that soothe your soul.

And, if you don’t excel at all things, all of the time?

Trust me.

You will still be gifted.

Thanks so much, Paula!

If you, dear reader, have had the pleasure of reading Your Rainforest Mind–of if you have questions or comments about her remarks above, I’m sure we’d both love to hear about it in comments.

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Author Talk: A Conversation about Bullying

 

Pamela Price describes what happened after she gave an author talk on bullying

 

Although we homeschool (thanks, food allergies!), I’m conditioned by my own public school years to see the month of May as something akin to closure.

It’s a good time for reflection and taking stock.

Looking back, one of the standout moments of “my” 2015-2016 year was a school talk I gave about bullying. As a former bully target and as a journalist who wrote a parenting book on the topic, my anti-bullying talk is packaged as an “author chat” that engages students in different ways, I think, than if I came in hard and fast and “preachy” on the topic.

Below are some jottings about the experience, which I’ve edited to share with you.

Today, after my speech and as they were preparing to file out of the auditorium, two girls (one likely prone to mean-girl aggression and her sidekick) animatedly asked me about what to do when someone pushes, touches, hits or shoves. In other words, what to do about physical bullying.

When I told them what practicing martial artists will say–“Walk away”–they got agitated. “NO! You’re a wimp! A sissy!”

I responded that as much as they didn’t want to hear it, it’s true. Yes, one can defend one’s self but that’s not the same as active, routine retaliation.

I could see the second girl was starting to get it, so I proceeded.

“Neurologists–brain scientists–tell us that what fires together, wires together. Imagine if we respond to every slight, real or imagined, in [a hostile, retaliatory] mindset. Then we start to default to the “fight” part of our brains. It becomes how we interact–from a place of anger.”

CLICK.

I could see the secondary girl realize what I was saying. The most aggressive girl? She was visibly uncomfortable that I’d undermined her authority–an understandable reaction.

Watching all of this was a young man who had been seated with the girls earlier, chatting happily. Based on conversations with educators and observation, he appeared to me to be  twice-exceptional and consequently struggling with physical and emotional regulation. (In other words, a part of the demographic I specifically talk about in my book.) He pulled me aside and whispered “It’s like in the Bible. ‘Turn the other cheek.'”

“Yes,” I replied. “There’s wisdom in the Bible* about this kind of thing. About being loving and kind. You can use it as a model, if you want, if that’s what you believe.”

While the girls talked to others around them, I placed my hand on the boy’s shoulder and said “I’m counting on you to take leadership in the movement toward kindness. I think it’s in you.” And he smiled at me and nodded. Then he hugged me.

As they filed out, I could see that the dynamic in the trio’s relationship had shifted, changed, morphed. The lead girl was quiet, the sidekick gave a little side-eye to the lead, and the boy?

He was, for the moment, peaceful, calm.

All three of them are clearly intelligent and capable. They can indeed be forces for change in their schools, in their lives.

All three of them, I think, needed that conversation today.

I know I did. 

Weeks later I continue to feel deeply moved at the power of conversation and connection. It’s bigger and more important stuff than words on a page or slides on a screen–and a nice reminder of how author talks can pave the way for deeper personal inquiry.

*There is, of course,  much wisdom about interpersonal relationships in MANY religions and secular philosophies, but in this instance it as important to validate his revelation in his terms. I met him where he was, to encourage him.

 

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Pamela Price is the San Antonio-based author of two books, including Gifted, Bullied, Resilient: A Brief Guide for Smart Families (GHF Press, 2015). To inquire about having her speak to your school or group about bullying, click here.

 

 

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