When children are recognised as gifted, the focus can tend to be on the realisation of their intellectual potential.
However, parents and teachers need to particularly support their emotional, social and behavioural development as well, if they wish to raise resilient kids – that is, help the gifted child to grow up as a well-balanced, stable and happy individual.
What Does it Mean to be Gifted and Talented?
Children identified as gifted have advanced natural abilities well above average, compared to children their own age. They can have natural abilities in one or more of the areas of intellectual, creative, social or physical pursuits.
A talented child achieves at a very high level in one or more of a variety of areas, including academic learning, the arts (such as music, dance, painting), sport and athletics, as well as technology. Talented children use their natural gifts in one or more of these areas by training, learning and practising.
Identifying Gifted and Talented Children
For toddlers or pre-schoolers, usually an informal identification of giftedness is sufficient. Parents, family, friends and child care professionals may keep a record of the child’s behaviour and any advanced development and achievements.
If a more formal identification is required for children over six years of age, an IQ test is usually the best way to achieve more reliable cognitive test results. School test results are usually taken into account as well.
To be classified as gifted by most education departments, children require an IQ score at – or above – 130. However, children with an IQ between 120 and 135 comprise the largest cohort of gifted children.
Children with a higher IQ of 145 and above, are considered highly superior with advanced cognitive abilities. However, these very bright young people may be more at risk socially and emotionally than their same age peers. Such children are likely to require more support and intervention to help ensure their emotional wellbeing, and optimal development.
Gifted children are very intellectually curious and learn much more quickly and in a complex way than other children of their age. They usually need to be given instructions only once on how to perform a task or routine, for example. They have an excellent memory, with the ability to understand new concepts quickly without effort.
Importantly, it is a fact that gifted children are found across all cultural and socio-economic groups in equal numbers, and are not restricted to upper, middle class or professional families.
Nevertheless, cultural and other biases may interfere with a professional’s ability to identify giftedness in children. In some cultures, gifted children may be discouraged from displaying or developing their abilities.
Additionally, some children from disadvantaged areas may not receive support to develop their potential into talent, or they may lack opportunity to do so. Hence, they will most likely have emotional, social and behavioural problems that will mask their natural abilities and prevent them from succeeding at school.
There are also gifted children who have a disability, such as ASD, for example, and the disability can mask the giftedness.
Learning is very important to their wellbeing, and gifted children need to keep being challenged and learn at their own pace, rather than to follow a class routine that is significantly too easy for them.
They can become easily bored and appear distracted and non-attentive. Gifted children also think about things very deeply and are both self aware and socially aware with a strong sense of justice. Because of their young age, and their emotional immaturity, they often find it difficult to express their intense feelings which can, instead, result in difficult and immature behaviours.
Gifted and Talented Children can Struggle to “fit in”
Consequently, gifted children can behave challengingly sometimes. Many gifted children can socialise well with others, and are well liked and even have leadership ability. All too often however, very gifted children are considered different from other children, who may feel resentful and jealous of them. Such gifted and talented children will need strategies and coping mechanisms to learn to communicate and socialise well with others.
Gifted children can be perfectionists and set very high standards for themselves. Hence, they can be easily frustrated which can lead to very difficult behaviours, even tantrums. As they are usually not gifted in everything, gifted children will need to cope with making mistakes, even managing failure. Parents are their role model, and they will learn to solve problems and recover from mistakes and failure calmly by watching and listening to the way their parents handle any difficulty.
If you are finding your child difficult to manage, she or he may be gifted but with some emotional or behavioural difficulties.
Or if you are finding it challenging to raise your gifted young child, or feeling a little overwhelmed, see your GP who may refer you to a psychologist for support for you and your child.
I would be very pleased to assist you.
Author: Dr Jan Philamon, PhD, BA (Hons) Psychology, C Teach, JP (Qual) Qld, MAPS.
As a registered teacher and psychologist, Dr Jan Philamon has a wealth of experience with children, however she enjoys helping individuals and couples at any stage of life. Jan aims to help people to be the best they can be and find success: improved wellbeing, gaining a sense of empowerment that allows them to actively problem solve and manage obstacles constructively, as well as positively plan and achieve their personal and career goals.
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