10 Behavioral Characteristics And Signs Of A Gifted Child

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Children are better learners than adults and can quickly pick up new skills. However, a gifted child may possess additional skills and extraordinary abilities.

As per the US National Association for Gifted Children, people who demonstrate exceptional aptitude (learning and reasoning skills) or competence in single or multiple domains are defined as gifted individuals. These domains may include language, mathematics, music, etc., or skills such as sports, dance, or painting.

Additionally, the US federal government defines the term ‘gifted and talented’ as evidence of high achievements in various fields of creativity, artistry, academia, or leadership. These individuals require additional assistance to enhance their abilities to the fullest. However, regular schools do not usually provide such opportunities.

Keep reading to learn more about gifted children, including the signs and characteristics of such children, the do’s and don’t of parenting such a child, how to teach a gifted child, and the behavioral issues that are associated with gifted children.

Ten Signs Of A Gifted Child:

You can identify your child’s gifted talents if he has some of the below features:

1. Your Child Will Speak And Read Early:

Your child will most likely learn to speak and read much faster than other kids of the same age. She will be better at picking up languages and understanding the nuances of grammar. It is possible that even before your child begins regular school, she will already learn to read and will even enjoy it.

2. Have A Better Vocabulary:

Having a better vocabulary is, of course, related to your kid being able to read and speak early. Once your child learns to read, she will get exposed to new words and meanings. She will be inquisitive and will want to know more. As a result, not only will she have a better vocabulary than other children of her age, but also will love to read.

3. Better Learning Skills And Concentration:

If your child is gifted, she will pick up basic skills such as eating faster and better than other children of her age.

Also, your child will have higher levels of concentration compared to other kids of her age. She will be able to focus better on matters that are of interest to her. They also tend to have a longer attention span than their same-age peers.

4. Will Be Able To Understand Signs:

Instead of always needing to be told what to do, your gifted kid will be able to read your body language and pick up signs even before you convey it to her orally. She would be unlike many children of her age who may need to be given explicit instructions.

5. Inquisitive and Thirst For Learning:

No matter how much ever you teach your child, she will want to learn more, as if her thirst for knowledge will never end. From being inquisitive to trying to find solutions to problems herself, your child will have an urge to learn more. She will be persistent and focused till she is happy with what she finds out. They are curious about the world around them and this curiosity goes beyond just a simple interest in a topic.

Your gifted child will not just listen to what you tell her but will delve deeper and look for the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’. She will ask you questions to understand more about various things and will be extremely inquisitive. She may even suggest alternatives and ask you if that could be a better way of doing a particular job.

6. Will Be Independent:

Your child will show signs of being independent at an early age. She will take pride in doing things on her own, and even if you offer her help she may refuse it. She will want to try out things on her own instead of you doing it for her or telling her how to do it.

7. Extremely Energetic:

A gifted child would be so full of energy that you may find her to be hyperactive. She will tend to get bored very easily and look for new things to try out. As a result, it will be difficult for her to stay entertained, so she will try to ease her boredom by keeping herself occupied.

8. Relates To Older Children Or Adults Instead Of Children Of The Same Age:

Your gifted child will find it difficult to connect with children of her age. She may find them too dull or boring and may also find it difficult to explain her viewpoint to them. Other children who are her age may also find it difficult to understand and connect with her. As a result, your child will feel comfortable in the company of older children with whose mental level matches with hers. She may also love the company of adults as she will be able to understand your discussions.

9. Organizational And Problem Solving Skills:

Your gifted child will be good at organizational skills and might also come up with solutions (of her level) to various problems. It does not mean that she will be organized and efficient all the time, without creating a mess. But, it does mean that she will understand how and when to sort out things.

10. Sensitivity And Sense Of Justice:

Your child will be sensitive towards her family and friends, and, in general, avoids hurting anybody. She expects such soft behavior from others. Also, her sense of justice is high, and takes care not to be undue with anybody, and similarly, cannot accept injustice being meted out to her.

Parenting Your Gifted Child:

A gifted kid will require you to do things differently to help her reach full potential. Here are a few dos and don’ts you can make a note of:

Dos:

1. Provide Intellectual Challenges To Your Child:

Your child may end up completing tasks faster at school than the other children. As a result, she can feel bored and uninterested and may underperform or underachieve in the early grades.

She will realize that she often does not need any practice or effort to do what other children are doing. This could sometimes lead to inferiority complex as she sees her classmates working hard, and she is not able to put in so much effort.

Support her by giving her greater intellectual challenges. Engage her in various games and activities that will keep her motivated. You can get her games and puzzles that will help her practice things that she learns at school, but in a fun and non-boring way.

2. Compliment Your Child:

Your child is talented, and she gives you ample reasons to be proud of her. Make sure that you express your appreciation to her, but responsibly.

Though your child knows about her gifted talents, it is important to you as a parent to make sure that you acknowledge her hard work and her intellectual abilities. You do not have to make a routine of it or smother her with praises all the time. Instead, you can give her compliments for the small things she does and make her feel proud of it.

For instance, if your child reads and understands a book that is well beyond her grade, tell her how proud you are of her reading abilities and how happy you are that she is into the habit of reading. If she learns how to eat on her own, tell her how smart she is. Make sure that you boost your child’s confidence levels and make her realize her worth, instead of just taking it for granted all the time.

3. Enjoy The Time Together:

You can connect better with your gifted kid and have a lot of fun together. Make sure you use her talents to the hilt to spend time together and make the perfect parent-and-child team.

As your child will connect more with you than with other children, you will have an opportunity to talk to her and teach her more about the world. Use the time to discuss important things as well as have some funny moments together.

Instead of always making her concentrate on the academics, let her enjoy the simpler pleasures of life.

Don’ts:

1. Treat Her As An Adult:

No matter how gifted your little one is, she is still a child and not an adult. Your child will always need your guidance and protection instead of being asked to do everything on her own, so remember to keep her age in mind before you set her on any task.

While your child could be independent, do not expect her to be so all the time. Make sure that you are there to guide her and that she knows about it. Be around for those times when she comes to you for help.

If you leave major decisions to her, you could be putting your child to undue pressure. Do not give her power and responsibility beyond a level lest she mishandles it. Failure could not only beat her confidence but also may scare her away from taking responsibility the next time.

2. Over-Burden Her With Schedules:

Your gifted child needs intellectual stimulation, and the best way to make sure it happens is by giving her access and exposure to various activities. However, while you try to keep her mind engaged, make sure that you do not over burden her with tasks.

Instead of taking away her free time, make sure that she gets enough time to be on her own, rest and recuperate.

If your child is not doing something productive all the time, it does not mean she is wasting away her talents. It simply means that she is using up that time to let her body rest and to let ideas build inside her. Free time in which you do not plan any activities or offer a strict schedule is always a great way to let your child think on her own and come up with ideas. You will be surprised at how much more active and interested she will be after these breaks.

3. Push Your Child For Perfection:

While you know that your child is gifted, do not make it a habit of pushing her for perfection. Being gifted does not mean that she has to excel in everything that she does. Your child may be great at something but may not be interested in something else. Just because she is gifted, does not mean that she excels in every aspect of life.

Help her identify the areas in which she excels, and let her focus on them. Do not push her to master in everything as it can lead to exhaustion and loss of interest. As a parent and as an adult, you know the various opportunities your child will have in life where she can use her talents to the maximum. Help her work on those areas and hone her skills.

Teaching Your Gifted Child:

Your kid will always learn from the interactions she has with you. Here are a few things you should keep in mind when you want to teach her academic or life lessons:

It is normal for your child to exhibit her talent one day and behave in a very relaxed way the other day. Take note of her preferences, while teaching her. While she may be great at picking up subjects and may be a fast learner, do not expect her to do it every single time. Tune yourself to her pace.

Offer your child more avenues to learn instead of just going by the book. If you have a gifted child, the last thing she will like to do is to learn through routine methods. Do not be too formal while teaching her. If you think that learning through a playful approach will help her grasp the concept quicker, do it.

Conduct regular assessments at home so that you understand your child’s level of competency. If you feel that your child is way ahead of others in her class, speak to the teachers. In some cases, the school will allow your child to skip a class or two and go to a higher class. The best way to do so is to sit with your child at the end of the academic year and see how much your child already knows of the next standard. If you feel that she is well-versed with the syllabus, speak to the school before the new session begins.

Behavioral Issues In Gifted Children:

In many cases, it is possible that your gifted child may find it difficult to cope up with her talents and show certain behavioral issues. Here are a few things you should be aware of:

1. May Lead To Uneven Overall Development:

While your child will often find it easy to grow on an intellectual level, it may be a problem for her to develop on all counts. For instance, if your child is not able to mix with other children and maintain a good social life, resulting in fewer friends.

2. Obsession With Perfection:

A gifted child would look for perfection in everything she does. Not being able to do so could lead to serious disappointment and loss of self-confidence. Your child may end up setting goals for herself that may not be achievable, and failure to meet the goals could affect her psyche.

3. Be Extra Sensitive:

When your child is gifted, she may look and react to things and situations around her in a delicate manner. For a gifted child, it is tough to accept any form of rejection, whether it comes from an intellectual angle or a social or emotional angle.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. At what age can you tell if a child is gifted?

Although the signs of giftedness in children could be evident as they attain school age, most experts suggest that testing (such as tests to evaluate IQ) for gifted children may not yield accurate results before the age of six (1).

2. What causes a child to be gifted?

Studies reveal that a combination of genetic and environmental factors could have a substantial role in a child being gifted (2). In addition, you may enhance their unique talents with the right kind of support and motivation.

3. Are gifted kids more likely to have anxiety?

There is a lack of sufficient evidence to prove this connection. However, a few research studies suggest that parents and families of gifted children could be more prone to stress and anxiety due to the inability to cope with their special needs (3).

If your child has learned to communicate considerably faster than other children, has a greater vocabulary knowledge, is highly energetic and eager to learn new things, has a strong sense of justice, and so on, are some signs of a gifted child. Parenting such children, on the other hand, is significantly more challenging since you must tread cautiously and offer them suitable opportunities to flourish while also ensuring that you foster their upbringing and that they have a happy childhood. Therefore, set reasonable expectations, don’t overload them, and be available to your child at all times.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Tests & Assessments.
    https://www.nagc.org/resources-publications/gifted-education-practices/identification/tests-assessments
  2. No Child Is Just Born Gifted: Creating and Developing Unlimited Potential.
    https://www.nagc.org/blog/no-child-just-born-gifted-creating-and-developing-unlimited-potential#:~:text=The%20potential%20for%20giftedness%20or
  3. Fatma Eren et al. (2018); Emotional and Behavioral Characteristics of Gifted Children and Their Families.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6060660/
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Manjiri Kochrekar

Manjiri is a freelance writer with experience in writing on a wide range of topics, including travel, education, yoga, and children’s activities, fun and learning. She is passionate about creative writing and loves to put her thoughts into words. Manjiri excels in breaking down complex information, ideas and aspects of life into simpler elements for an easy read.

Dr. Holly Schiff

(Psy.D.)
Dr. Holly Schiff did her Doctorate of Psychology in School and Community Psychology from Hofstra University and graduated from Fordham University. She also holds a Master of Arts in Psychology in Education degree from Columbia University, a Master of Science in School-Community Psychology, and an Advanced Certificate in School-Community Psychology from Hofstra University. Dr. Schiff was accepted as a member... more

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