Gifted children often go unidentified, leading to boredom and frustration in the classroom, which can appear to be ADHD or other behavioral disorders. These improper diagnoses can prevent intelligent kids from reaching their full potential academically, as well as disrupting their emotional growth and well-being.
When smart, sensitive children are treated as troublemakers because they have different needs or require extra mental stimulation, this condemnation from the authority figures in their lives can lead to feelings of rejection and a defiant attitude, turning the negative labels into a self-fulfilling prophesy.
This problem makes it very important to recognize gifted children as soon as possible, with many schools now performing intelligence tests (such as the OLSAT) on the entire student population, beginning as early as 1st grade.
Below are 10 signs to help you know if your child may be intellectually or creatively gifted:
- A Restless Brain—
Gifted kids have trouble focusing on subjects that don’t interest them, and much of the time when this happens in a school setting, this disinterest stems from the fact that they are being forced to sit through and “learn” concepts along with the rest of the class that the gifted child has already mastered.
- Many Questions—
When a child asks questions constantly, especially about the way things work, this can be a characteristic of giftedness. If they seek knowledge beyond the basic answers, or want to study very specific concepts, this can also be a sign of an extremely bright young mind.
- Endless Energy—
A gifted child often has a body that races along in an attempt to keep up with their rapidly moving mind. This constant mental and physical movement can lead to difficulty sleeping, which you may notice during infanthood; or in the form of an early end to daily toddler naps. It can also lead to a misdiagnosis of ADHD in a child not kept intellectually challenged.
- Super Sensitivity—
Along with advanced intelligence, gifted children may also show sensitivity beyond what a child in their age group normally possesses. These kids may still be of average maturity for their age while empathetically advanced, causing them emotional issues that may incorrectly present as behavioral disorders.
- Perfectionism, Please—
Gifted children hate making mistakes, and will often set overly high expectations, becoming agitated and upset when they don’t achieve them immediately. If your child gets frustrated, angry or gives up easily when not instantly good at something, this may be the cause.
- Natural Leaders—
If you’ve noticed your child tries to dominate the situations or manage groups in which he or she is placed, this can be a sign of intelligence. While shy children can be gifted too, it is very common for smart kids to be opinionated and outspoken, causing them to be seen as leaders by their peers.
- Intense Focus—
The same gifted children who become unfocused and disruptive when bored by topics they’re not interested in will show an amazing power of concentration concerning anything of interest to them.
- Advanced Language Skills—
Precocious early reading abilities and a large vocabulary for their age are two common signs that a child may be gifted.
- Challenges Authority—
With a quick-moving, inquisitive mind comes the need for answers, which can directly clash with the “shut up and do what I say” approach of many authority figures. Rather than robotically doing as they’re told, gifted children are often labeled as rebellious because they question how things are done.
While children definitely need to learn to be respectful, and that there is a time and a place to ask questions or challenge the system, many people misinterpret the curiosity and problem solving skills exhibited by gifted kids as disrespect, not realizing the child is simply using the intellect beyond their years with which they’ve been gifted.
- Unusual Interests—
Gifted children are known for finding something that fascinates or challenges their mind, and wanting to delve deeper into the subject than what would be average for their age. They may also start odd collections of things typically not considered collectible.
While there is no universally accepted definition of gifted, generally students who score 130 or higher on IQ tests, show consistently high academic achievement, or test 2 or more grade levels above average for their age are considered intellectually gifted. Children who show advanced artistic or musical talent may also be considered creatively gifted.
No matter what the definition may be, it is clear that gifted children have different psychological and educational needs that should be addressed and supported by the parents, teachers and other adult advocates in their lives as early as possible. If you believe you may have a gifted kid, communicate with your school’s administrators to ensure your child receives the academic and emotional encouragement they need to thrive.