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Characteristics of Gifted Children

October 11, 2011

Parents often ask, “what does it mean to be gifted?  Aren’t all children gifted?”  While all children have gifts, “gifted” in an educational context means academically gifted.  Louise Porter, senior lecturer and child psychologist at The Flinders Univeristy in South Australia, put it this way:

[The myth that everyone is gifted] is akin to claiming that everyone is six feet tall and those who aren’t are either being stubborn about it or have been measured wrongly.

Academic giftedness results in more than a simple IQ or COGAT test result. Contrary to popular belief, a common trait of gifted children is not self-motivation or high achievement. Instead, gifted children are typically marked by their depth and intensity.
Gifted children tend to have:

  • advanced verbal abilities, using sophisticated words and complex sentences
  • unusually good memory and learn quicker and easier than peers
  • unique interests and either hyper-focused or completely scattered
  • interest in experimentation
  • passionate imagination and creativity
  • witty sense of humor
  • desire for reasoning and understanding
  • impatience with self and others
  • complex thinking and analysis
  • concern with social and political injustice
  • heightened sensitivity/over-excitability
  • asynchronous development

The underlying quality of all of these traits: Intensity. Gifted children simply tend to be more intense in everything they do, say, think, express — sometimes it is beneficial to be so intense, and frequently it can be very frustrating for parents, teachers, siblings and friends.

The list above is adapted from “A Parent’s Guide to Gifted Children” by James T Webb, et al. which is the core book for our Parent Discussion Groups.

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