How Parents Can Know If Their Child Is Gifted

Young Child Reading a Book
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"Is my child gifted?" That is a question many parents ask. Finding the answer is not always easy because gifted children are individuals.

They are as different from one another as non-gifted children are from other non-gifted children. They do, however, have a number of traits and characteristics in common.

If you are wondering if your child is gifted, take a look at these common traits and see how many of them fit your child. You can also check for other things, like how quickly your child reached developmental milestones.

Even when you are sure your child has many of those common traits and you realize that your child met several of the developmental milestones early, you still might not be sure.

Not all parents believe their child is gifted, and parents of gifted children are often unsure or reluctant to claim that their child is gifted.

The more you read about gifted children and the concept of giftedness, the easier it will become for you to recognize whether your child is gifted.

Traits and Characteristics

Parents often wonder if their child is gifted when they see evidence of advanced abilities, for example, early reading, excellent memories, or relating well to adults.

They can begin to get a sense of their child's giftedness by researching the characteristics of gifted children. However, it is important to remember that a child does not have to have all of the traits to be gifted.

Developmental Milestones

Giftedness tends to run in families, so many of the traits that indicate giftedness are common among extended family members.

Parents may see a sign of giftedness and consider it perfectly normal, average behavior if several family members have the same trait.

Parents sometimes see a list of traits and are unsure if their child really fits the descriptions. In this case, it's helpful to compare a child's development to the average developmental milestones. It's also a good idea to see what is considered advanced development.

Supersensitivities or Overexcitabilities

Many gifted children have one or more "supersensitivity." A child may get his feelings hurt very easily or he may be sensitive to loud noises or be bothered by the seams on socks. A child may also have excess energy and be in constant motion.

While overexcitabilities are common, not all gifted children have these sensitivities.

Here are the five Dabrowski's Overexcitabilities parents of gifted children should be familiar with:

Differing Views of the Term "Gifted"

One reason parents and many others have trouble understanding whether a child is gifted or not is the conflicting definitions of the term "gifted." Not everyone who uses the terms is necessarily referring to the same set of qualities.

Learning about the history of the term and the changes in its meaning will go a long way in helping parents understand just what giftedness is and whether their child is gifted.

Intelligence Testing

IQ testing can help parents determine if their child is gifted, although experts recommend that children not be tested before age five and preferably before age nine since results may not be entirely accurate.

Parents usually don't have to have their child tested for giftedness unless it is necessary for them to advocate for their child's educational needs.

Testing can provide peace of mind for parents who have constant doubts about their child's abilities.

Why It Matters

Parents of gifted children are often told to stop "bragging" or to "let your kid be a kid" or to stop "pushing." People who don't have gifted children don't understand the issues involved. Gifted kids are often a mystery to their parents, who can be surprised and amazed at what their children can do.

Some gifted kids are underachievers because they aren't challenged, while others are achieving (getting high grades) but still aren't being challenged. Both situations can create problems for kids in school and later in life.

Quite often, these parents just want confirmation that what they are seeing is, in fact, what they are seeing, that their child does seem to have more advanced abilities than other children the same age.

Of course, then people tell those parents it shouldn't matter. And in some ways that is true. You won't love your child any more or any less if she's gifted or not gifted. But you will gain a better understanding of your child. You will know where to look for help and what kind of help to look for.

Parenting books, for example, can confuse and even frustrate parents of gifted kids because the descriptions and the advice given doesn't apply and doesn't work on many (if not most) gifted kids. Knowing your child is gifted means that you know to look for books on parenting gifted children.

Knowing your child is gifted also helps you better understand whether the school is providing an appropriate educational setting. It can also give you peace of mind, help you understand your child, and empower you to provide the best academic environment for them.

6 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Pfeiffer SI, Petscher Y. Identifying Young Gifted Children Using the Gifted Rating Scales—Preschool/Kindergarten Form. Gift Child Q. 2008;52(1):19-29. doi:10.1177/0016986207311055

  3. Gere DR, Capps SC, Mitchell DW, Grubbs E. Sensory Sensitivities of Gifted Children. Am J Occup Ther. 2009;63(3):288-295. doi:10.5014/ajot.63.3.288

  4. Van den Broeck W, Hofmans J, Cooremans S, Staels E. Factorial validity and measurement invariance across intelligence levels and gender of the Overexcitabilities Questionnaire-II (OEQ-II). Psychol Assess. 2014;26(1):55-68. doi:10.1037/a0034475

  5. National Association for Gifted Children. Tests & Assessments.

  6. Matthews MS, Ritchotte JA, Jolly JL. What’s wrong with giftedness? Parents’ perceptions of the gifted labelInternational Studies in Sociology of Education. 2014;24(4):372-393. doi:10.1080/09620214.2014.990225

Additional Reading

By Carol Bainbridge
Carol Bainbridge has provided advice to parents of gifted children for decades, and was a member of the Indiana Association for the Gifted.