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Behavioral Management of Gifted Children

July 9, 2008 — Gifted children often display behaviors that may not respond to traditional forms of behavior management, explains Dr. Paul Beljan, pediatric neuropsychologist and owner of Beljan Psychological Services.

In this year’s Eric Moerer Memorial Lecture, sponsored by the department of family and consumer studies at the University of Utah, Beljan will teach a parenting approach for behavioral management that helps children to first calm down and then take responsibility for their behavior. Beljan’s lecture, titled “Behavioral Management of Gifted Children,” will be held Thursday, July 17 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the fourth floor conference room of the Salt Lake City Main Library on 210 East, 400 south. The event is free and open to the public.

“The intervention assists the children’s control over themselves so they can make appropriate decisions and get back on task,” says Beljan. He describes an approach to behavior management that involves: priming, previewing, pre-empting, disengagement and re-engagement.

According to Beljan, this approach to behavior management reduces the opportunity for the child to become highly agitated and then express inappropriate behavior. Intervening in behavior just as the child is “perking” and before he/she becomes “over the top” prevents the child from having bad interactive experiences and teaches them how to soothe themselves.

“Many adults cannot calm themselves, but expect their children to do so,” he says. “Children, however, do not come to us with a pre-packaged ability to calm down. Therefore, it is up to caregivers to teach the child these mechanisms.” Beljan will also offer practical explanations for developing structure, consistency and routine in the home and classroom.

Paul Beljan, PsyD, ABPDN, ABPN, is the past president of the American Board of Pediatric Neuropsychology. He completed two post-doctoral fellowship training programs in pediatric psychology and pediatric neuropsychology. Beljan’s professional focus is on alcohol/drug related neurodevelopmental deficit (A/DRND), learning disorders, traumatic brain injury, gifted intelligence and executive functioning. He also specializes in the pediatric psychology of pain management and trauma recovery with children.

Co-author of the book Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children and Adults: ADHD, Bipolar, OCD, Asperger’s, Depression, And Other Disorders, Beljan, along with five other nationally prominent health care professionals, describes ways parents and professionals can distinguish between gifted behaviors and pathological behaviors.

Beljan has lectured internationally about a variety of topics in pediatric neuropsychology and is a nationally retained expert in forensic pediatric neuropsychology.

Beljan Psychological Services also specializes in assessing and advocating for gifted children, and gifted children with ADD/ADHD, asynchronous development or who have learning disorders.

The Eric Moerer Memorial Lecture Series, sponsored by Tina and Michael Moerer, honors their son Eric, a gifted student who died while still in his teens.

Beljan will also present at the 25th annual SENG (Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted) national conference, July 18 to 20 at Little America Hotel in Salt Lake City:

For additional information the Eric Moerer Memorial Lecture Series, or to contact Paul Beljan for an interview, contact Cheryl Wright in family and consumer studies at 801-581-7712, or