Thrown around quite often, what does the term gifted actually mean, especially when it comes to learning and behavior? The characteristics of a gifted child might surprise you. Not always positive, these gifted characteristics often present challenges for the child, teachers, and parents.
The National Association of Gifted Children has it that, “Gifted people are those that display outstanding levels of aptitude and competence in one or more disciplines.” This definition is quite broad and it, therefore, encompasses a broad range of characteristics that parents, tutors, and psychologists use to recognize giftedness in children.
Testing for Giftedness
You might come to the point where your doctor refers you to a neuropsychologist who will do comprehesive tests. IQ tests for gifted children are typically one aspect of a comprehensive set of tests measuring other areas such as social & emotional intelligence, attention, executive functioning skills, and so on. This is a great example of the importance of looking at gifted children with a holistic lens. Often behavioral obstacles such as anxiety, impulsiveness, and depression manifest as a result of being out of sync with peers, schoolwork, and so on.
Common Traits of Gifted Children
Some of the most common traits of giftedness are intense curiosity, rapid mastery of basic skills, advanced reading ability, and a keen sense of humor. Being labeled as gifted usually occurs when the child is in school. If they are flagged as being potentially gifted or talented, they are subjected to further testing.
Many parents opt to have their kids tested by psychologists. Private testing is costly but is usually more comprehensive. Testing is necessary as there are times when giftedness can be confused for a learning disability or other misdiagnosis. This article contains what you need to know about identifying and dealing with giftedness in a child.
What Does It Mean to Be a Gifted Child?
The common understanding of being gifted revolves around being bright and having high potential. Any definition of giftedness usually focuses on capability and achievement as being the primary identifiers of giftedness. In fact, the federal definition of giftedness which was developed in the 70s and is known as the Marland report focuses on ‘high achievement capability.’
Characteristics of a Gifted Children
As mentioned earlier, the term ‘gifted’ has been thrown around so much in public circles that it is now both misused and misunderstood. Traits of giftedness in kids manifest themselves in various ways, some positives and others undesirable.
This is why it is important to consider a number of factors before labeling a child as gifted.
The following are the most common characteristics of a gifted child:
A gifted kid often begins verbally communicating at a very early age, while using advanced vocabulary. This is why they are sometimes referred to as ‘precocious’ due to their language.
This advanced verbal ability makes these children be early talkers and avid storytellers with an extensive and precise vocabulary.
They usually choose their words carefully but have a diverse range of words. These children usually find it difficult and frustrating to talk to children their own age will often turn to older kids and adults to converse.
Another sign of a gifted child is their unusual capacity for processing information. Gifted children process information much faster and more accurately than their peers.
This allows them to master subjects such as reading and math a lot faster than their peers. Consequently, it becomes a lot harder to keep such an individual challenged in a normal school setting. As a result, some gifted kids may disrupt classrooms due to boredom, or simply become impulsive.
This is one of the most common characteristics of a gifted child. Such children dive into subjects of their interest with a passion that is not typical of children their age.
This is why it is not unusual for such a child to learn things such as the statistics of every player in a sports team or the names of all dinosaurs at a young age.
Gifted children often exhibit a deep absorption in activities which interest them. Parents of gifted kids will often find themselves taking their child to the library or going online to help them look for knowledge, facts, and statistics.
Gifted kids are able to absorb information much faster and retain it for longer than their peers. This is facilitated by their enhanced ability to process information quickly. The fact that they acutely understand what they are learning allows them to store it for efficient recall later on.
When you combine their fast processing capability and high memory retention, they go through entire subjects in a very short time. Teachers and parents often find it difficult to present information to these children at their ideal rate.
Persistence and Intensity
These kids are intense in everything they do. They immerse themselves fully into a subject and this is what allows them to collect massive amounts of information quickly. This intensity can also manifest itself in their social interactions. However, they also tend to show compassion on a deeper level than their peers.
Their persistence, however, may also work against them when they encounter a problem they cannot solve easily or a subject they cannot master quickly.
Sense of Humor
Most people find gifted kids to be enjoyable to have around since they usually display a sense of humor that is well beyond their years. In fact, such kids usually exhibit an appreciation for the more subtle types of humor such as satire. Also, they enjoy wordplay such as puns and are usually quite good at using these comic routines themselves.
Sense of Justice
A gifted kid will often display a strong sense of justice, which usually sees to them having high expectations of both themselves and others. This strong moral compass allows them to constantly make good choices and this is what makes most of them to be effective leaders.
However, this desire for justice and fairness in all situations means that they are usually unwilling to compromise. This can make it difficult for them to create long-lasting relationships with others.
This is one of the most shared traits among gifted children. Such a child will display a high level of creativity and originality in their written, oral, and artistic expressions. They may also spend a lot of time fantasizing.
A gifted individual usually picks up on details much more keenly than their peers. In any activity, whether it is watching a movie or reading a book, gifted children typically notice the minutest of details that others might miss. This level of attention to detail is often the cause of conflict between them and others.
Another glaring sign of a gifted child is their love for problem-solving. In fact, most gifted children are usually in their element when breaking down a complex issue and coming up with a solution that no else has thought of. There is nothing they love more than finding solutions.
Resources for Parents with Gifted Children
Raising a gifted child is no easy endeavor. Their gifts cause unique challenges as their needs will not be the same as that of an average child. Parents with such children can utilize the following resources:
This is the home to the Beyond Giftedness Conference. This organization provides parents and teachers with information that will help them understand and guide gifted kids. I recently attended one of these conferences and learned a great deal about executive function.
The National Association for Gifted Children
This is the most comprehensive resource out there for gifted children.
SENG is a nonprofit network that helps gifted individuals reach their intellectual, physical, emotional, social, and spiritual goals.
Books for Raising Gifted Children
The following books will prove beneficial when raising a gifted individual
- Keys to Parenting the Gifted Child
- The Survival Guide for Parents of Gifted Kids
- Guiding the Gifted Child
- Parents' Guide to Raising a Gifted. Child
- Living with Intensity
- Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students
Labeling a child as gifted is a complex process that involves keen observation and objective testing. If you discover giftedness in your child, take steps necessary to ensure that her needs are met.