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    #233097 - 08/23/16 10:04 AM Nurturing self-advocacy in gifted girls
    Jeeves Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 08/21/16
    Posts: 24
    Hi everyone. The whole gifted world is still relatively new to me and I am very new to this forum! I have a 10 year old DD who was unique and advanced from birth and I was not a bit surprised when she was accepted into the gifted program at school last year. HOWEVER, I have just lately been reading a lot about gifted girls/women and how they either suppress their giftedness to fit in or don't self-advocate, etc. because of the expectations in society about females.

    Right now my daughter is strong-willed, creative, assertive and "tells it like it is". In other words she doesn't pretty up her words to make others feel better, but she comes across as cold and mean sometimes. Especially to her little brother, who has ADHD, anxiety and a severe lack of confidence. She doesn't get why we have to give him extra help and is very condescending to him. So, ultimately, my reactions to her are very inconsistent. I go between admonishing her for being mean to her brother and telling her to "be nice" (dumbing down her strong personality?) and telling her never to stop being assertive and never to back down. Poor kid's probably confused as heck!

    OK, so my question is are there any books aimed at gifted young girls which will encourage her to realize her potential and stay strong in the face of adversity while at the same time not being "arrogant" and "bullying" (but is that a bad thing? I just don't know. Herein lies my quandary). eek

    Help please!

    #233124 - 08/23/16 08:14 PM Re: Nurturing self-advocacy in gifted girls [Re: Jeeves]
    aeh Online   content

    Registered: 04/26/14
    Posts: 3605
    No book recommendation off-hand, but a few thoughts:

    I was blessed to have parents who valued strong intellectual and character development in all of their children, and have tried to pass their lessons onto our children. Among them, one of the key principles was that of stewardship. We don't earn our intellectual gifts (or our naturally-athletic physical development, or perfect pitch, or artistic ability, etc.), and therefore have no basis for putting ourselves above other people in intrinsic value based on these gifts. Instead, being entrusted with gifts means we have a responsibility to develop and use these gifts for the benefit of both ourselves and others. Perhaps you are familiar with the phrase, "to whom much is given, much is required," (from an allegory Jesus told about aggressive investment of capital, no less!) which speaks to the greater responsibility that the strong, the gifted, and the privileged have toward those with less.

    Instead of swinging between praise for assertion and admonishment to be nice, perhaps you might consider modeling for her how to employ her strengths to be an advocate for those who need support (including her brother). Pull her aside some time for a thoughtful one-on-one discussion, and have her come up with some phrases and actions she can use to flip the narrative when she's feeling impatient or frustrated with him.

    Every one of us has weaknesses. Every one of us will be in a position of need in some way, at some point in our lives, including her (though she may not know it yet). Our families, friendships, and communities are strongest when each of us uses our strengths to support each other's weaknesses.

    Strength and gentleness are also not incompatible. In fact, it is often the strongest individuals who are the gentlest, because they don't need to make a point of their strength. There are those who take positions of leadership based on intimidation. And then there are leaders who attract people to follow them voluntarily and joyfully, because they know how to synthesize diverse individual strengths into a whole that achieves a shared goal far more effectively than the sum of its parts.

    #233131 - 08/24/16 05:51 AM Re: Nurturing self-advocacy in gifted girls [Re: Jeeves]
    indigo Offline

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 4221
    You've received great information already. I'll just add that there is more expert advice and resources for student self-advocacy on the Davidson Database, including those in this brief roundup:

    Self-Advocacy: The Power of Speaking Up

    Davidson Discussions – Self Advocacy (youtube video)

    Four Simple Steps to Self-Advocacy

    Other Resources listed on the Davidson Database

    In general, self-advocacy has a goal in mind. To help children achieve their goals, parents may wish to:
    - role play at home. Consider various directions in which a self-advocacy conversation might go, including “worst case” scenarios. Coach your child on asking probing questions and on delivering smooth, positive, unemotional responses.
    - communicate your support for your child frequently: Listen, acknowledge dilemmas, affirm choices, provide options, offer to assist with research if needed. Be the “guide on the side” as your child practices self-advocacy.
    - encourage good record keeping, as that is an important aspect of self-advocacy.

    I'll add that there is a vast difference between "staying strong in the face of adversity" and "bullying, being arrogant, condescending, mean, etc". That difference may be found in respect for all persons, and in healthy boundaries. It may be described as the difference between being assertive and being aggressive. People can disagree agreeably. smile

    #233147 - 08/24/16 10:28 AM Re: Nurturing self-advocacy in gifted girls [Re: Jeeves]
    Jeeves Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 08/21/16
    Posts: 24
    aeh and indigo, thanks so much for your advice, it is very inspiring!

    My problem is that I am a terrible role model in that respect. I try to model a good way to act in front of her but I am the worst possible person for not self-advocating! Her father, however, has no problems in that respect although he may be too much the other way.

    I'm seeking some guidance for myself right now through a psychological evaluation so that I may better guide my children but I will definitely be heeding your advice and looking into the information that you have provided. Thanks!

    #233264 - 08/27/16 09:54 PM Re: Nurturing self-advocacy in gifted girls [Re: Jeeves]
    ElizabethN Offline

    Registered: 02/17/12
    Posts: 1390
    Loc: Seattle area
    This is not a book about self-advocacy or about giftedness, but I found it really eye-opening in relationship to my girl: Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions Into Adulthood

    Highly recommended for any parent of a tween/teen girl.

    #233275 - 08/28/16 06:29 AM Re: Nurturing self-advocacy in gifted girls [Re: Jeeves]
    madeinuk Offline

    Registered: 03/18/13
    Posts: 1446
    Loc: NJ
    I'm ordering that book right away - thanks for the tip!
    Become what you are

    #233289 - 08/28/16 02:56 PM Re: Nurturing self-advocacy in gifted girls [Re: Jeeves]
    Jeeves Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 08/21/16
    Posts: 24
    ElizabethN, thank you so much, I will be ordering that book also!

    Spaghetti, that is great advice, thanks! Very important also because I lost who I was chasing after boys who weren't worth my time and I'm now scrambling, at age 42,to find that person again. I don't want her to make the same mistake!

    Edited by Jeeves (08/28/16 02:57 PM)

    #233310 - 08/29/16 12:04 PM Re: Nurturing self-advocacy in gifted girls [Re: Jeeves]
    MomC Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 11/19/13
    Posts: 47
    ElizabethN, thanks for the book recommendation. I just ordered it too. My dd is also in middle school and we spend a lot of time trying to untangle things.

    I've also found helpful information from the organization Girls Leadership Institute. "Girls Leadership teaches girls the skills to know who they are, what they believe, and how to express it, empowering them to create change in their world." They have girl/parent classes as well as useful information on their website.

    #233322 - 08/30/16 04:08 AM Re: Nurturing self-advocacy in gifted girls [Re: Jeeves]
    madeinuk Offline

    Registered: 03/18/13
    Posts: 1446
    Loc: NJ
    Within a family I have personally observed is that siblings get one another's nerves at times and that this is normal. Older siblings can also go through an intolerant and moody phase with younger siblings.

    Outside the family with our DD I have found it depends on the peer group, at regular public elementary DD would get dinged all the time on group projects and was labeled as being a child that didn't work well with others.

    At drama camp and then over the past 2 years with CTY camps we got the exact opposite feedback - she was a natural leader who treated others with compassion and helped others along at time when they weren't getting it.

    There is a difference between telling the honest truth and being brutally honest to savage someone's feelings obviously. If I saw my DD behaving that way I would have no compunction whatsoever in showing my DW the difference between the two and I would not consider that act to be suppressing or gagging my DD in any way. Rather it would be steering her towards behaving with decency and compassion - the 'use your superpowers for good not evil' talk.

    Become what you are

    #233332 - 08/30/16 10:22 AM Re: Nurturing self-advocacy in gifted girls [Re: Jeeves]
    OCJD Offline

    Registered: 10/29/12
    Posts: 68
    Hi Jeeves,
    I have a gifted DD who just turned 9 and I try to work on those same issues with her.
    I try to model and teach empathy wherever possible. 9 and 10 seem like tricky ages so I try to use examples wherever possible. She is a natural leader, is a quick learner, and a club level athlete in several sports. I think the sports are teaching her "grit" (that word of the year)and the leadership she needs. But I will sometimes catch her not being as inclusive with all her friends. It may not be intentional but I point out to her how X action may have been interpreted differently by a certain friend and how she may have felt in that circumstance. She is certainly not very nice to her very loving HG older brother. He's not as naturally athletic as she is and she draws comparisons with him sometimes. He is so supportive of her and she will brush him off constantly...until she needs him to help her with her piano theory. As such, I also try to work with her on being kind to him more often because, as siblings, they need each other's support and when they are older, he will be even a greater resource to her as a friend. It doesn't work most of the time but I'm trying.
    I talk to her probably too often about my experiences as a girl her age.
    Some books that my DD likes include the Mysterious Benedict Society featuring two very gifted girls who work together with two gifted boys to overcome adversity. There are three books in total plus another prequel.
    Good luck!!

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