Did you know that your child was gifted from the start? Maybe it was just a feeling. That knowing down deep in your gut that something was different about your tiny tot, but not being able to completely pinpoint it.
You’re not alone.
There were so many things that stand out to me when I think back on having my first baby boy – him locking his eyes on mine as he nursed moments after his birth, holding his head up to see what was going on at just a week or two old, staying up anytime someone else was awake just so he wouldn’t miss anything, understanding and following simple directions by 6 months old.
And never, ever sleeping. To. This. Day.
Research consistently shows that parents are a good judge of their child’s ability and aptitude, and that their referrals should be valued.
Especially with things like physical and cognitive milestones that there are clearly understood norms for like rolling over, sitting up, talking, walking, counting, reading, etc.
Maybe your memories – or current realities – are like those of the following parents who shared their reflections with me.
Parenting Young Gifted Children | What It’s Really Like
I love these anecdotes. So many great snippets were shared that I couldn’t use them all, but I know I’ll be writing more on this topic – so keep watching. Here are a few – maybe they remind you of your own life:
No sleep. Ever. Not in a crying-and-can’t-be-comforted way, but in a my-brain-doesn’t-turn-off-and-I’m-perfectly-content-to-only-sleep-6-hours-total way. (Jennifer)
My daughter could roll over-purposely starting at 8 weeks old and crawled at 5 months. My son could find anything we misplaced at 12 months and he could navigate himself around the zoo and neighbourhood from 16 months on – he would give us the correct directions where we wanted to go. (Shari)
[When she was] one, I decided to teach her how to say the numbers, in order, from one through ten. When I said, “1,” she replied, “2.” This went on for some time because [I thought] she wasn’t understanding what I was saying or trying to get her to do! [I] didn’t realize that she didn’t need me to teach her how to say the numbers, she already knew them in order and how to apply them. One year later, she could count to 100 in both English and Spanish. (Aimee)
I think I really knew something was up when he was speaking in sentences and walking at about 15 months. We would be out someplace and he would say something, in a sentence, and I got a lot of “Aww, how old is he?” Then, the look when I would tell people. When he was about 2, I realized he knew all the names of the planets and that was when my mother was like “yeah, your kid isn’t normal.” (Katie)
My second son was walking at nine months and climbing bookshelves at 11 months. My first son was correcting my spelling when I would write the names of his Thomas trains in the driveway when he was two. Then he’d write them out correctly and legibly. My second daughter took apart her stroller with a screwdriver at 18 months and lined up all the pieces in order of how they came apart. Then she put it back together. My first daughter picked up my oldest son’s 1st grade math book at three and started finishing his problems. (Mia)
My three year old quietly and methodically took apart the telephone, using appropriate tools. When she saw I was upset, she carefully put it back together. Correctly. My eight month old son’s double take and look of shock when I told the pediatrician that I knew he understood everything I said. The two year old who used words like ‘melancholy’ and ‘ambiguous’ in her normal conversation…. (Judith)
A very large vocabulary, speaking words like hypothesis, metamorphosis, not just saying these words but knowing what they meant by age two. (Debbie)
He rolled at seven weeks, and rolled TO GET PLACES at 12 weeks. My friends in the moms group called him ‘the tumbleweed.’ (Cait)
He was so alert as a baby and would stare at every single object in the room and look at people directly in their eyes with intensity when they talked. He has always been more energetic, more emotional, more needy, more exhausting, etc. The preschool he was at complained how bossy he was. It turns out he was just trying to get the kids to play on his level. He loves sounds tracks and will memorize them and hums or sings them incessantly. (Ry-Ann)
So many signs – early words (8 months), early walking (10 months), early reading (easily at 3). Loved to “read” to himself by 8 months. Very restless mind and very little sleep until he was 6 or so. He was impossible to sleep train. Knew his alphabet by 18 months and could sound out letters by sight soon thereafter. And at age 4, his favorite word–which he could use correctly—was “penultimate.” (Felicia)
Putting a puzzle together, then flipping it upside down and assembling with no picture. (Melissa)
With my son, it was being super alert as an infant. And NEVER SLEEPING. He was incredibly observant and never played with toys. He never played, just absorbed. He taught himself to read at two and was reading encyclopedias less than two years later. With my daughter it was speaking in full sentences before one and an acute imagination that was well beyond her peers. (Adam)
My little buddy could do very advanced puzzles that were often meant for children three or four years older than him. He figured out how to operate a TV without the remote, when we had thought the buttons were broken, by pressing two buttons together at the same time. He was two. He organized his toys in very specific classifications, by type, size, and color. He was just in general very alert and always gave the impression that he was absolutely taking everything in. (Sarah)
He was very alert as an infant. He turned himself from tummy to back at 12 days old. I still have the video! He couldn’t sleep during the day, he was watching everything. Although he was a late walker and talker, he started to speak in short sentences. By two he already knew most of the colors, letters and numbers in English and Spanish. He started reading at three. He has an astounding memory and great sense of humor. (Gina)
I remember walking with a friend [who had] a boy four months older [than mine]with [my son] in a backpack. He was fussing to get down and I said “use your words.” My friend looked horrified that I would expect that and he said, “let me down please mommy.” I didn’t know anything different as he is my first/only. (Elizabeth)
There were and are “strange” behaviors which now make sense in retrospect. Studying of shadows, reflections and geometric patterns started before18 months, for e.g. rolling a ball back and forth in front of a steel dishwasher and studying its reflection- while other toddlers played with toys nearby. Most frustrating and challenging behavior is resistance to being taught anything. Must self learn…always. (Malvi)
He could barley walk when he figured out how to control the DVD player and he studied a scene over and over of Elmo explaining how to jump …. until he figured it out and could jump. It was just weird to see this very tiny human actively, intentionally studying. Then, like so many others have said, there was the ridiculously early puzzle play, the constant questioning, intense sensitivities, a passion for classical music (that the made the rest of the household crazy) and the early reading. We have no idea when he started reading – at about two (looking back) there were signs but at the time we didn’t realize it until he was three. And started reading signs and asking about their meanings. (Lynisa)
Overwhelmed, isolated, exhausted parents who didn’t find anything helpful in the “normal” pediatrician guidance or in any of the “normal” parenting books. (Melissa)
And, perhaps Melissa’s reflection sums it up best – the guidance is hard to come by when new parents are struggling with their kiddo who doesn’t seem to fit what any of the parenting books are telling them.
I know that I struggled.
Know that you’re not alone, though. There are other moms and dads out there with children just like yours – extra alert, not sleeping, flying through milestones with an incredible intensity… you can find some of them in our group on Facebook. Connect with us. Subscribe here, too, so you don’t miss any posts – and get a free copy of my eBook, A Parent’s Guide to Raising Lifelong Learners.
And tell me… What were some of those things YOU noticed in your tiniest gifted children that made you stop and wonder? Leave a comment – we all want to know your special stories, too.
For more information on parenting gifted kids, check out:
This post is part of the Hoagies Gifted Education Page blog hop for November – for more great posts that cover the various ages and stages of giftedness, head over to the hop page.