Admit it, you’ve thought about it. You see your precious little one handling blocks with expert dexterity. Your heart swells as they garble through their ABCs. Your pride and joy is walking already or handles math problems with ease and you wonder, Could my child be gifted?

Maybe.

 

There is a growing community of support for gifted children, but still a lot of murky information about how to actually tell if your child is gifted. ~Raising Lifelong Learners #gifted

 

There is a growing community of support for the families of gifted children, but still a lot of murky information about how to actually tell if your child is gifted. I remember when my oldest was still a toddler, I was reading a popular parenting magazine and came across a one-page article discussing giftedness in children. Intrigued and convinced that my precious firstborn was obviously a genius, I began comparing him to the checklist they provided… and promptly discovered that he didn’t match a single criteria. Oh well, I thought. I wouldn’t know what to do with a genius. He’s fine how he is.

Years later, surprise! Not only is he gifted, but so is his brother… and his sister. It took a teacher telling us that they were likely gifted – and multiple test results – to convince me. As we began to learn more about what it meant to be gifted, hindsight became more and more clear. The signs were always there, I’d just been wholly misinformed as to what they were!

Here you’ll find 100 real-life and classic hints that your child may be gifted. Since gifted kids are as unique from one another as they are from the general population, not every one of these will be true for every gifted child, and there will definitely be anecdotes experienced by gifted families that aren’t mentioned here. But in general, you may very well have a gifted child on your hands if:

 

  1. The word “intensity” drums up your child’s image. Intensity is the hallmark of gifted children. Intense feelings, intense reactions, intense drive. Intensity is the word when it comes to gifted kids.
  2. Your child learned to read at an early age, or
  3. they taught themselves how to read.
  4. The questions never, ever stop.
  5. She often seems wise beyond her years, but
  6. sometimes she can seem to behave younger than her actual age, especially when it comes to social and emotional issues.
  7. He experiences fears that children his age don’t.
  8. They are aware of their own mortality.
  9. He sleeps less than other children. Less than the parenting articles say he needs. Less than you need to maintain your sanity.
  10. He takes hours to fall asleep – often because he can’t “turn his brain off”.
  11. She can draw inferences from data, evidence, or Sesame Street.
  12. She can grasp metaphors at a young age.
  13. He can understand and appreciate sarcasm.
  14. He is sarcastic.
  15. She isn’t content to simply absorb information and often asks “why?” what she’s learning is important
  16. They experience anxiety.
  17. He is able to grasp concepts quickly.
  18. She is observant.
  19. He has a large, diverse vocabulary.
  20. She does well in math and can easily apply mathematical concepts to new challenges.
  21. He can’t learn enough. His desire to investigate and ask questions and immerse himself in a subject is insatiable.
  22. She has a rich, vivid, active imagination.
  23. They make up their own elaborate rules to games… or even make up their own elaborate games.
  24. He has a strong sense of justice and becomes particularly upset when faced with inequality.
  25. She can pay attention for long periods of time, especially when compared to her age peers.
  26. He has an excellent memory and can recall facts and information accurately.
  27. Others commented on what an alert infant she was.
  28. He has an intense curiosity about just about everything.
  29. They experience intense reactions to pain.
  30. He corrects others, sometimes rudely, and is usually right.
  31. She has an increased sensitivity to sensory stimuli – noises are louder, smells are more offensive, sock seams are evil.
  32. He can retain information, not just sit through it.
  33. She experiences intense empathy for others in pain or peril.
  34. He thinks so far outside the box that sometimes the box is no longer visible.
  35. They offer creative solutions to basic – or complex – problems.
  36. She often has great insight into situations.
  37. He forms strong attachments – to people, to stuffed animals, to trains, to shoes, to a favorite toothbrush, to anything.
  38. She is able to identify connections between information, facts, and people.
  39. He’s just so original. Your kiddo is quirky and awesome and there doesn’t seem to be anyone like him.
  40. She requires fewer repetitions to master a new skill.
  41. They have passionate interest in (sometimes unusual) topics
  42. He can be pretty argumentative. Any disagreement is apparently an invitation to debate, and
  43. He oftentimes win those debates (whether you tell him or not is up to you!).
  44. She becomes frustrated with repetition and review. Spiral instruction is not for her.
  45. He lacks patience or understanding when others struggle with a task he’s mastered.
  46. She frequently finds school boring.
  47. They have very high standards for everyone around them, but they are often highest when it comes to what they expect from themselves. This often leads to
  48. Struggles with perfectionism.
  49. She daydreams.
  50. He craves and appreciates novelty.
  51. She has a deep self-awareness – though may lack the ability or language to actually identify and describe her inner experiences.
  52. He has an interest in politics and enjoys discussing the latest issues.
  53. They often speak quickly. Their little mouths sometimes can’t keep up with their excitement and ideas.
  54. He’s the classic absent-minded professor – brilliant and disorganized, smart but scattered.
  55. They have a parent or sibling who has been identified as gifted.
  56. She could carry out multi-step instructions from an early age.
  57. He’s very picky – food, textures, smells, oh my!
  58. She asks deep questions.
  59. He has little need for instruction and can often master skills on his own.
  60. She frequently seeks out older children or adults for conversation.
  61. He might have excessive energy, almost like he’s driven by a motor inside.
  62. She’s skeptical, sometimes cynical.
  63. They work well independently and
  64. May even prefer to work independently.
  65. She’s so creative.
  66. He’s aware of how different he is from the kids his own age.
  67. So. Much. Talking.
  68. He expressed an early interest and/or understanding of time.
  69. Her development is asynchronous.
  70. He spoke early… and well.
  71. She exhibited early mastery of motor skill functions.
  72. They hit several developmental milestones early.
  73. She has a deep need to learn, create, go, do…
  74. He has a laser-like focus and
  75. He’s able to multitask successfully.
  76. She has a great sense of humor.
  77. He appreciates puns and dad jokes, long before becoming an actual dad.
  78. She’s able to recognize problems and
  79. She’s able to propose solutions.
  80. “Why?”
  81. They have a wide knowledge base that comes from interests in multiple areas.
  82. He’s able to understand cause and effect relationships.
  83. She can imagine multiple outcomes to situations, which often causes her to
  84. Overthink instructions. In fact, she probably
  85. Overthinks everything.
  86. He can apply new concepts to multiple areas.
  87. She struggles socially, often because of the differences between her and her peers.
  88. He creates his own ways to solve math problems.
  89. They exhibited early pattern recognition.
  90. She’s often a square peg in a round hole world.
  91. He has a strong fear of or preoccupation with death.
  92. She is highly critical of herself.
  93. He doesn’t just get interested in a topic, he obsesses.
  94. They unknowingly dominate their peers.
  95. Their standards and expressive skills often push them towards natural leadership.
  96. She deeply experiences her surroundings.
  97. He doesn’t blindly accept unproven authority.
  98. What’s normal for her sounds like you’re bragging to others.
  99. He has a low threshold for frustration.
  100. She thrives on complexity.

 

100 hints your child may be gifted

You may notice that among the 100 traits listed above, not once were grades mentioned as an indicator of giftedness. Being a gifted child is not all about straight-A’s and perfect test scores, it’s a neurological difference that affects many, many areas of their lives and really turns up the intensity knob. Sure, many gifted kids have impressive report cards, but they also have struggles, fears, and unique experiences that set them apart from the crowd.

Do you recognize your child in any of the above characteristics? What made you begin to suspect your child was gifted?

 

100 hints your child may be gifted

Jennifer Vail

Community Manager at Raising Lifelong Learners
Jennifer is married to the very handsome man she's loved half her life, with whom she juggles 3 hilarious, quirky, sometimes-difficult-but-always-worth-the-work kids. She is passionate about people and 90's pop culture, can't go a week without TexMex, and maintains the controversial belief that Han shot first. She holds degrees in counseling and general ministries, writes at This Undeserved Life, and can often be found staying up too late but rarely found folding laundry.