Many of the parents who call me are concerned about their very bright child who is performing below expectations. These children have been identified through testing as being talented and gifted because of high test scores on standardized IQ measurements. There is often pain and frustration in the voices of these parents. Why is their exceptionally smart child not living up to his or her potential in school? These underachieving students are often labeled “unmotivated” and “lazy.”
I strongly identify with the children of these parents because I was one of those underachieving students. I too struggled with a lack of time awareness that affected my productivity. For most of my adult life I described myself as an underachieving procrastinator. That changed when I learned about the connection to my brain’s wiring and getting things done.
What is my first advice to these frustrated and concerned parents? Pause, and take a deep breath. There is hope!
Next, stop thinking of your child as being unmotivated. Banish from your mind the connection between your child and the word lazy. Your child most likely has executive functioning deficits in the prefrontal cortex of their brain. This area of the brain, the front of our brain, is the last part of our brain to develop. In fact, it doesn’t become fully matured until somewhere between 25 and 30 years of age.
Underachieving children are suffering tremendous guilt and a low self esteem because of their struggles with getting things done. These negative emotions create barriers that can make it hard to get them to even try to use effective strategies to help themselves. They can hide behind a mask of bravado that looks like they don’t care about school or getting good grades. They may even loudly claim that they don’t need help.
To get past these self-imposed emotional barriers is the challenge that the Seeing My Time takes on in the first couple of hours of the course. By providing information about the brain, executive functioning, and learning, you remove the guilt and open up the possibility of hope, of being able to successfully meet the expectations of those around you. With that lowering of defenses, then you can teach the effective external strategies that are needed to support the growing brain to get things done. Educating oneself about the brain and executive functions is the place to start changing your relationship with your struggling gifted child.
Marydee Sklar is the president of Executive Functioning Success and the creator of the Seeing My Time Program®. She is an educator and author of three books on executive functions, as well as a trainer and speaker. Marydee has more than twenty-five years of experience working with students and adults with executive function challenges.
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