Posts by Pamela Goldberg, BSN, MS, LMFT

Educating Gifted Children Comes With Its Own Set of Challenges


Educators have long been aware that gifted children can be very difficult to educate and are just as challenging to teach as those with learning disorders

Gifted children are often referred to me by teachers, school counselors and child therapists who have identified red flags and need an intervention.

Why an intervention? Isn’t giftedness a good thing? Well, it turns out that gifted children come with their own set of challenges, particularly in the area of education.

Many gifted children fail to work to their potential and may even have failing grades. On tests, they may get the difficult questions correct while skipping the easy questions. Gifted children are often disruptive in school, complaining of boredom and seem to space out and lose focus. They sometimes get oppositional and argumentative with teachers and parents; they think they are way smarter so, “why bother?”

The motivation of a gifted child waxes and wanes depending on the relationship between the child and the teacher. Gifted kids thrive on praise.  When they feel criticized or misunderstood, however, they often become quite defensive.

When gifted children want to avoid an unpleasant consequence or acquire something interesting, they may use manipulation tactics. A clever child sees this as a game of outsmarting their opponent (parent or teacher).

Intervene Upstream


SEL for Prevention’s Camp MakeBelieve Kids (CMB) programs, for students K-5 and Upper Elementary, were created with the gifted child in mind. The programs offer positive support, challenging discussions, and interesting activities during structured and unstructured group time.

Gifted children are taught the appropriate way to interact with peers, manage moods, and get their needs met. We equip them with the language of feelings and creative ways to manage those feelings, thoughts, and behavior. They also learn assertive but friendly communication, strategies for handling bullies, avoiding peer pressure, understanding social clues and much, much more.

Gifted children thrive in our programs.

It’s heart warming to hear from group leaders who observe the gradual changes in the gifted child, who often begins with a negative, know-it-all attitude and leaves with gratitude. Finally, they feel they can navigate their social and emotional world.

Given plenty of talk time, role playing time and problem-solving tasks, gifted children soon become program leaders. Peers, as well as their teachers, often pick these children to mentor children with other special needs, such as Asperger’s Disorder or ADHD.

To learn more about SEL for Prevention’s Camp MakeBelieve Kids programs, schedule your free, live overview today.


We Must Equip Our Kids with the Tools to Recognize and Stop Emotional Manipulation

The Urban Dictionary, known for its simple (and sometimes vulgar) definitions of common terms, defines the word “manipulate” as “making people do what you want.”


Does your child participate in manipulative behavior? Click on this image to take our Facebook poll and see if you qualify for our Trashy Tricks study.

It’s a straightforward definition for a dangerous behavior. 

The act of emotional manipulation isn’t just a single-player game. There’s the manipulator, the person performing the act. There’s also the manipulatee, the person on the receiving end of the behavior.

Unfortunately, the manipulatee is basically a pawn, often completely unaware of the manipulation. The manipulator walks away unscathed, leaving the manipulatee feeling foolish, duped, drained, resentful, mistrustful, helpless and powerless.

Take me, for example. I have been called a sucker (manipulatee) many times in the past, suckered out of jewelry, clothes, and money. I have also been suckered into doing things that I really, no really, did not want to do; it’s the times like these when I get really mad at myself.

Don’t worry about me, though. I finally smartened up after sharing one of my stories with a friend, who only stopped laughing at me long enough to say, “Pam, seriously? Let’s go to a tattoo parlor to get sucker imprinted on your forehead as a reminder to Stop Being One!”

We all have different turning points and that was mine.

Gaining the Advantage

classroom-kids-600pxOnce I began studying the behaviors that people use to manipulate others, I realized that those who are vulnerable would gain an advantage if exposed to the nuances of this elusive behavior. Equipped with those tools, “suckers” like me would have a better chance of responding in a healthy way.

I also realized that children and adolescents are vulnerable too.

I started wondering:

  • What if a child learned to recognize manipulative behaviors in others?
  • Would this child be more likely to express a healthy, rather than destructive, response?
  • Could this knowledge also be useful in preventing teens from falling victim to the dangerous consequences of manipulation?
  • What about during adulthood?

I put my imagination to work and developed SEL for Prevention. This unique social and emotional learning program gives kids a strategy for recognizing, labeling, and stopping manipulation. The sooner children learn to identify manipulative behavior, the better. Don’t wait until they reach their turning point.

To learn more about this fascinating topic, schedule your free, live product overview today.

The 5 C’s of Suicide Prevention – An Action Plan for Schools

When it comes to suicidal behavior in students, it’s the responsibility of  teachers and school officials to intervene and provide guidance

Suicide is a serious issue among school-age kids and teens. It’s the third leading cause of death in 10-14-year-old children; almost 10% of high school students have made at least one suicide attempt (CDC).

The following is a basic action plan for teachers and school officials dealing with an individual who is displaying suicidal behavior. It should be used in conjunction with state-federal guidelines, and protocol and guidelines from national suicide prevention organizations.

The 5 C’s of Suicide Prevention

5 C's of Suicide Prevention

Click to enlarge and print / SEL for Prevention

1. Caring
  • Share what you know with the student about his or her suicidal behavior. (Ex. “I noticed in your drawings there is a lot about people dying” or “Another student shared that you were talking about suicide.”)
  • Ask direct questions. (“Are you thinking about suicide?”)
  • Keep information private from those who are not directly involved in the student’s welfare. Gossip from other students, teachers, school staff or parents of other students is not appropriate.
2. Connection
  • Use eye contact to foster a personal connection.
  • Express you care through both non-verbal and verbal communication (sit across from student, show concern with facial expressions, do not allow others to interrupt, show calmness with voice modulation).
  • Allow student to discuss his or her feelings.
  • Don’t minimize. (“It’s not a big deal” or “No worries! Tomorrow you will feel better.”)
  • Don’t generalize. (“All teenagers feel this way.”)
3. Control
  • Emphasize that his/her feelings are temporary.
  • Offer hope for the future. (“This feeling will pass with help. We will need to make a plan.”)
  • Equip with tools to change feelings. Immediate mood-changer tips could be:
    • Focusing on a simple breathing exercise.
    • Talking about any triggers that set off the feelings (bullying behavior, family crisis).
    • Writing in a journal, drawing, or listening to music.
    • Asking the student what mood-changer strategy usually works for him or her.
4. Communication

qtq80-65TKPuBegin a dialogue with the student who is exhibiting the suicidal behavior. Be calm, accepting, and encouraging of the student’s ability to get through this challenging time.

  • Inform chain of command
  • Inform parent
  • Written documentation
5. Considerations for action

Immediate risk – Hospital (inform triage)

  • Ambulance transport
  • Parent escort
  • Police check if student doesn’t arrive at Hospital

Moderate risk – Refer to:

  • Community mental health
  • Parent responsible to supervise, take to hospital if gets worse; Suggest that parent remove harmful items
  • Equip with National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Low risk

  • Notify parents
  • Strategies to reduce stress
  • Equip with Suicide Prevention Lifeline
  • Connect with student frequently

Developed in collaboration with the Nevada Office of Suicide Prevention, Nevada Coalition for Suicide Prevention, Suicide Prevention Resource Center, STEP UP and Camp MakeBelieve Kids.

Build Protective Factors to Keep Children Safe

Upstream Prevention builds emotional strength, self-esteem, and positive thinking. It is the bridge to positive mental health in kids and adolescents.

SEL for Prevention promotes positive mental health through universal instruction. We offer a comprehensive Upstream Prevention approach that is tailored to meet the social and emotional learning needs of all children and adolescents.


Positive Outcomes and Protective Factors / SEL for Prevention

Every step of SEL for Prevention’s Social-Emotional Learning curricula works toward improved mental health. How? By increasing a multitude of generic protective factors in children.

Building these protective factors in children helps them become resilient and less likely to develop problem behaviors, even with risk factors present.

Protective/Risk factors

Protective factors and risk factors can be separated into three distinct categories:

  1. Individual factors (one’s temperament and social-emotional skills)
  2. Interactions with the environment (connectedness with peers, family, and the community)
  3. Broader environment factors (one’s socioeconomic status and the connection between one’s home and school)

Children who participate in SEL for Prevention programs gain protective factors from the three categories listed above; strengthening such protective factors brings about positive outcomes.

n other words, protective factors help buffer children from harm, thus making them less likely to participate in negative problem behaviors. As a child’s unique set of protective factors increase, the risk factors that lead to self-destructive or aggressive behaviors decrease.

Here’s the most surprising part. The benefits of our program are achieved through 8 simple steps.

To learn more about the 8 steps to positive mental health in children and adolescents, schedule your free, live product overview today.

Read about evidence-based programs that build emotional strength in children and adolescents, here.