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Kathy Marshack News

Help Your Gifted Children Reach their Full Potential

Monday, September 12, 2016


If your child doesn’t want to go back to school, has test anxiety, depression, and is a perfectionist, you may have a gifted child who needs more challengesNow that school has begun, are you noticing a change in how your child feels toward school? As a preschooler, he was eager and excited to go to school. (The masculine is being used for ease of writing. This could easily be your daughter also.) But now the spark is gone, perhaps he even hates school so every day is a battle. Sullen behavior shouldn’t be ignored, because it’s a symptom of a larger problem. Possibly you think he has ADD or ADHD, but in reality you may have a gifted child who is bored!

Don’t wait for someone at school to tell you that your child is gifted. He may be doing just enough to fit in and get by. Gifted children quickly learn to underachieve in the early grades.

If your child has some of the following typical traits, it would be wise to get him/her tested and evaluated.

  • He read earlier than most.
  • He has an unusual sense of humor.
  • He has great comprehension and concentration.
  • He has a wide range of interests.
  • He gets his schoolwork done quickly without any effort or practice.
  • He has developed test anxiety, perfectionism and fear of failure because he hasn’t been challenged so hasn’t learned how to deal with these situations.
  • He has unusually large vocabularies for his age.

Remember, it’s possible to be gifted in a creative sense and not have an IQ score above 130.

Here are some proactive things you can do to help your child reach his/her potential.


  • Be the authority figure and make wise decisions regarding the best schooling and activities for him.
  • Provide learning challenges for him at school and at home.
  • If certain classroom discussions are at a level far below his, ie., math or reading, look into ways that this time could be better used – perhaps tutoring or part-time homeschooling in advanced math or reading.
  • Expose him to different skills and activities that reveal his talents and passion, yet don’t over-schedule him with extra curricular activities.<
  • Don’t be so focused on the challenges that basic knowledge for day-to-day living is missed.
  • Help him understand why he is different from the normand give him skills to cope with these differences.
  • Allow him some downtime to do what he thinks is fun.
  • Let him enjoy his childhood, and don’t expect him to make adult decisions.
  • Really get to know your gifted child and have fun with him.

To get a thorough and realistic appraisal of your child’s potential you may decide to have an individual intellectual and achievement evaluation by a qualified psychologist. If your child is gifted, it’s critical that you educate yourself. Gifted children are fundamentally different and they need their parents and teachers help to learn the social, interpersonal and self-development skills to relate to the rest of humanity. And if you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment to get your child assessed.

Read more on my website: Parenting Gifted Children.

How Do You Know if Your Child is Gifted and Why It Matters

Monday, February 29, 2016


Gifted children are fundamentally different and they need their parents and teachers help to learn social and self-development skills to relate to others.Every parent should think their child is special, because they are all special. But are they all gifted? The definition of gifted is: “someone who shows, or has the potential for showing, an exceptional level of performance in one or more areas of expression.” So how do you know if your child is gifted?

One way to identify giftedness is to have your child’s IQ scored. An IQ over 130 is usually an indication of superior intelligence or giftedness. But a person doesn’t have to have a high IQ to be gifted in a creative sense.

Observations by parents and teachers are an important factor in identifying gifted children. The following typical intellectual characteristics are things you can look for:

  • Unusually large vocabularies for their age
  • Ability to read earlier than most children, often before entering school
  • Greater comprehension of the subtleties of language
  • Longer attention span, persistence and intense concentration
  • Ability to learn basic skills more quickly and with less practice
  • Wide range of interests
  • Highly developed curiosity and a limitless supply of questions
  • Interest in experimenting and doing things differently
  • Tendency to put ideas of thing together in ways that are unusual and not obvious (divergent thinking)
  • Ability to retain a great deal of information
  • Unusual sense of humor

After identifying your child as gifted, it’s critical that you educate yourself. Gifted children are fundamentally different and they need their parents and teachers help to learn the social, interpersonal and self-development skills to relate to the rest of humanity. Take specific steps to help your gifted child become positively motivated, to encourage desirable behaviors and to help them develop a good self-concept.

By doing this, you can understand and perhaps even avoid some common problems gifted children commonly face such as a lack of motivation, boredom, perfectionism, cynicism and even depression. Encourage, nurture, stimulate, and challenge your child. Give him or her freedom to experience the natural consequences of their behaviors. In this way you will help them to know, trust and value themselves.

To get a thorough and realistic appraisal of your child’s potential, parents may decide to have an individual intellectual and achievement evaluation by a qualified psychologist. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment, and I’d be happy to administer the evaluation.

Are You Encouraging Girls Who Are Natural Leaders?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016


People usually either have a natural leadership ability or they don't, and you can see the quality almost from birth. But that doesn't mean all people born with this quality become leaders. The quality needs to be nurtured for it to grow and flourish. Just as soccer camp and piano lessons nurture the young athlete and young musician, so must parents help their young leader find experiences to help her to hone this skill.

In one psychology study a number of years ago, participants were asked to describe the qualities of a male leader. They listed such qualities as strong, decisive, charismatic, aggressive, goal oriented, tall and so forth. When a separate group was shown this list of characteristics and told that this described a woman, the participants considered her unfeminine, unlikable, angry and manipulative.

The big difference I’ve noticed between male and female leaders is mostly in how those characteristics were acquired. In other words, women business leaders develop their leadership from quite different life experiences than their male counterparts. And these life experiences do distinguish leadership styles and qualities.

I’m thankful that more and more women leaders are being acknowledged and welcomed as unique human beings who bring their own particular personality to the organization they lead. So many women of my generation grew up feeling like an odd ball. We were told we were too aggressive or unfeminine. Now women are at the helm of multi-billion dollar corporations, like Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, or run for major political office, like Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton have.


For girls to grow up to be successful women business leaders they must conquer the fear of being unfeminine, being willing to break the rules. They need to continue to rise above the negative female stereotypes. It requires:

  • Pride in independent thinking
  • Fearless determination to accomplish your goals.
  • Willingness to create opportunities where others see limitations.

As entrepreneurs or business leaders both women and men are achievers, driven, tenacious, and independent. They’re unafraid of hard work. They strive for excellence in whatever they undertake. They can be impatient with the insecurities of others because these insecurities slow down the process. On the other hand, these leaders are very good at encouraging excellence in others, because they have a powerful belief in their cause. Leaders also believe in their abilities to accomplish whatever they put their minds to. This is probably the defining characteristic of leaders. Strong belief creates charisma and charisma creates followers.

Do you see leadership qualities in your daughter and would like expert advice on how to nurture it while caring for her emotional, psychological and spiritual needs? If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Read more on my website: Gifted Children.

Stressed? Take a Break and Let Your Brain Do Its Job

Monday, March 24, 2014


when stressed, take a break and let your brain workYou’ve got a deadline and you’re starting to sweat. The project you’re working on just isn’t coming together as you’d hoped. It’s like your brain has shut down, but now is when you need it the most. What can you do?

Rather than sitting there and becoming more anxious and stressed, we’re commonly advised to get up and do something not associated with the problem, such as taking a short walk, do some cleaning, or listen to your favorite music. Does this advice really work? And if so, why?

If you’ve tried it, you know that it does work. And here’s why:

Your prefrontal cortex (your forehead area) works to concentrate on the task in front of you but it’s also supposed to retrieve stored information from your memory. Then it combines these two elements so you can solve the problem. The problem that’s described above arises because you keep your prefrontal cortex too focused on the task. It can’t do the search and retrieval from your memory. When you get up and get involved in a different activity, it gives your brain a break. Now your prefrontal cortex has the freedom to search through your memory unhindered. It can then put together pieces of stored information in completely new ways.

For your brain to come up with creative solutions for your problems, you need to allow your brain to go through these four phases.

Put the knowledge into your brain’s memory banks. Your brain can’t retrieve what’s not in your memory. By reading extensively, conversing with experts, and attending workshops, you can gather a great deal of useful information. This exploration gives a variety of perspectives that you can apply to the problem.

Give your brain a break. Engage in activities totally unrelated to the subject. If you can, take the sage advice: "Why don't you sleep on it?” Getting away from a problem and letting the subconscious mind work on it often allows creativity to spring forth.

Let the brain combine the present task with the retrieved knowledge. This phase of the creative process is the most exciting because it’s at this time that you discover the idea or solution that you’re seeking. Don’t simply dismiss your ideas because they seem too far-fetched. Instead, jot them down. You can refine them later. And, who knows, they may be the beginning of a great solution.

Have the courage and self-discipline to train your brain to evaluate and Implement. Identify the ideas that are workable and that you have skills to implement. If you encounter temporary obstacles, don’t give up. Failure will lead to better ideas.

If you find that you’re prone to jumping from one project to the next, take a look at my website – Personal Growth/Gifted Adults - for why this might be happening and how you can develop your abilities more fully.

Need help unleashing your creativity? Consider setting up an appointment with a psychologist. You don’t have to be suffering to get help, especially if you want to optimize your mental health. If you live in the Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington area, please contact my office for an in depth consultation.

Do You Need Creativity to Survive?

Friday, February 28, 2014


creativity means thinking outside the boxCreativity has long been associated with the arts. The general population may feel that they aren’t creative. While some do have a greater aptitude for creativity than others, it is not a rare gift reserved for only a few. Creativity comes when you learn to look at the world in a different way. You see relationships between things that others can’t see.

Interestingly, a recent article in The New York Times by Laura Pappano reports that more institutes of higher learning are teaching creativity as a marketable skill for industries such as business, education, digital media, humanities, engineering, science, nursing, justice and safety.

She quotes Gerard J. Puccio, chairman of the International Center for Studies in Creativity at Buffalo State College, “The reality is that to survive in a fast-changing world you need to be creative.” He heads the nation’s oldest creative studies program that has been offered since 1967.

Dr. Puccio developed a four-step system that he and partners market as FourSight and sell to schools, businesses and individuals. His steps are clarifying (ask the right question), ideating (brainstorming without listening to the inner naysayer), developing (trying out your solution until you find one that works) and implementing (convincing others your idea has value).

She also talks about Dr. Burnett’s Introduction to Creative Studies survey course, where students can enhance their own creativity by rephrasing problems as questions, learning not to instinctively shoot down a new idea but look for three positives first, and categorizing whether a problem needs action, planning or invention.

No doubt you can see commonalities between these approaches. Creativity requires open, positively thinking outside the box. Being willing to accept change. Feeling safe and confident in the way you perceive yourself. Having a willingness to fail and try again. Sounds like a recipe for success if you’re in therapy!

In fact, I tell my clients – especially entrepreneurs – that if you have a good idea, sometimes you just need to run with it. It may or may not work, but allowing your creative juices to flow will only enhance your entrepreneurial abilities. With practice and time you can improve your creativity skills and, who knows, a failed creative thought or idea may not work for a particular situation at present, but it may for another one down the line.

What do you think? How important is creativity in your career? Join me on Facebook – I’d like to hear your thoughts on this and other subjects.

Parents – How to Help Your Child Do Well in School This Year

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


help your children do well in schoolAs the new school year begins in Oregon and Washington, many parents happily send their children to school expecting them to receive a good secular education and to learn the social skills needed for life as an adult.

Each classroom is filled with children who have a wide range of abilities and personalities – those who will have minimal problems, those who will be straight A students, those who will struggle, those who are average, and those who get left behind because they require special attention that they’re not receiving.

Where will your child be in this diverse group? We all hope for the best. But if your child is experiencing difficulties, how long will it take for someone to call it to your attention? It is so much better to stay involved and aware of your own child’s situation, because no one knows your child like you do. As an example, your child’s behavior may be interpreted by someone as an uncooperative attitude, but you may see it as struggling to remain connected out of boredom.

When children have trouble fitting into the classroom setting, their academic achievements suffer. The more they fall behind, the harder it is to catch up. So, parents have tough decisions to make. They have to figure out whether it’s normal awkwardness or is it an indicator of a more serious problem? Is it a physical problem, perhaps a child needs glasses or has low blood sugar? Is it an indicator or a psychiatric condition such as Attention Deficit Disorder or Asperger’s Syndrome? Is it an indicator that your child is gifted and needs extra challenges to stay engaged?

Perhaps you’re hesitant to acknowledge and address the issue, thinking your child will simply outgrow this stage. Perhaps you suspect there is a problem, but you’re in denial or are grieving the changes this will bring to your entire family. Perhaps you’re afraid that if you pursue this, your child will be stigmatized or will identify with being “labeled”, that it will become a crutch and excuse for not trying to do better.

A recent news report highlighted the fundamental truth that if you don’t seek a diagnosis, you can’t use the special services available to your child that can begin the process of understanding, accepting, and supporting your child to get the best out of school and life.

If you see that your child is struggling and you don’t know why, don’t put off seeking help. Consult either your child’s pediatrician or a licensed psychologist for help in assessing your child’s situation. As a parent of a child with Asperger’s, I know how valuable early intervention is for their success. Feel free to contact my Portland Oregon/ Vancouver, Washington office and set up an appointment.

Feeling Stuck in a Rut? How to Give Your Creativity a Spark

Thursday, July 18, 2013


man holding light bulb is image of creative ideas sparkingDo you feel like everyone else is creative, but that you’re not? True, some have a greater aptitude for creativity than others. This doesn’t mean, however, that creativity is a rare gift reserved for only a few. Creativity comes when you learn to look at the world in a different way. You see relationships between things that others can’t see.

If you’d like to enlarge your creative abilities, try doing these three things:

Learn all you can about your chosen topic. When you know how things work, all the ins and outs of it, you can begin to see it from a variety of perspectives. This can lead to developing an innovative or creative solution, which is particularly important for entrepreneurs, since they need a basic understanding of all aspects of their new product, service or business venture. Reading extensively, talking with other experts and customers, attending workshops, etc. will all contribute toward this.

Allow yourself time to think it over. Let your subconscious mull over everything you’ve learned. Go for a walk, put on your favorite music, do some gardening, or simply sleep on it. This will allow your creativity to emerge.

Evaluate if your idea is workable and then implement it. You’ll need courage, self-discipline, and perseverance at this step because you will most likely encounter setbacks. Thomas Edison said: "Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. I never did anything worth doing entirely by accident…my inventions were achieved by having trained myself to be analytical and to endure and tolerate hard work." So, be prepared that your ideas may fail several times before they successfully develop into your very best ideas. Perhaps they may even take you in an entirely different direction.

If you find that you’re prone to jumping from one project to the next, take a look at my website – Personal Growth/Gifted Adults for why this might be happening and how you can develop your abilities more fully. 

If you live in the Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington area, you can contact my office and set up an appointment so we can explore this further.


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