Identifying the Traits of Gifted Children

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You don't know what to make of your child. Their behavior is puzzling and frustrating. Sometimes you wonder if they have ADHD, ODD, OCD, sensory integration disorder, or some other disorder or syndrome. You wonder if they have a learning disability. Or maybe, you think, they are lazy and irresponsible. Maybe, however, your child is gifted. How can you tell?

Types of Giftedness

First, it's important to understand that giftedness is not just a matter of academic achievement. A child (or adult) may be gifted in several different domains:

  • Academic
  • Artistic
  • Creative
  • Intellectual
  • Intuitive
  • Leadership

So, even if your child isn't an academic whiz, they may be gifted in other areas. While schools are most likely to be interested in intellectual and academic giftedness, parents should be supportive of their child's creative, artistic, or other gifts. These may become increasingly important as your child moves into higher grades or starts a career.

Tests for Giftedness

While "quick tests" (like the one below) may provide you with insights into your child's abilities, they aren't true tests for giftedness. Once a child has been identified as possibly gifted, they will go through a variety of carefully developed, benchmarked tests to determine whether and to what degree she is truly above average. Some of these tests may include:

  • Achievement tests
  • Non-verbal IQ tests
  • Standard IQ tests

Results of these tests, administered by trained professionals, provide schools with the information they need to place, educate, and challenge your child.

Checklist of Traits

Gifted children don't always behave in the ways you'd expect. For example, many gifted children appear to be "daydreaming" in class, while others may have a hard time controlling their tempers. As a result, they may not be classroom stars; in fact, they may be in trouble more often than not.

Some traits of giftedness overlap with traits of developmental disorders. It can thus be tough to determine whether a child is gifted or diagnosable with ADHD, high functioning autism, or another related issue. And, of course, it is quite possible to be gifted and also have a developmental disorder.

You can answer the following questions and see how many of the behaviors apply to your child:

  • Asks a lot of questions
  • Appears unusually sensitive to injustice or unkindness
  • Finds it difficult (or undesirable) to conform to others' expectations
  • Gets frustrated because their work is less than perfect
  • Gets totally absorbed in activities and thoughts
  • Has an unusual level of interest in classifying and organizing objects or ideas
  • Has seemingly boundless energy
  • Prefers to work independently rather than in a group
  • Talks a blue streak, using an unusually high vocabulary
  • Wears you out with their endless questions

Remember, though not all gifted children are alike, so not every gifted child will have all of these behaviors. But if some of these behaviors sound familiar, you might want to learn more about gifted kids.

Giftedness Testing

If the above checklist describes your child, you may want to consider having them screened or tested for giftedness. Speak to your child's school psychologist or advisor to set up a battery of IQ and ability tests to see if your child's educational program is appropriate for their gifts.

Meanwhile, though, if your child is also having difficulty communicating with peers, limiting impulsive behavior, or completing work on time, you may want to raise questions about those issues as well. Your child may be gifted; at the same time, however, they may have challenges that should be addressed so that their gifts can shine through.

3 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.
  1. National Association of Gifted Children. State Definitions.

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

  3. National Association for Gifted Children. Common Characteristics of Gifted Individuals.

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.