All children are unique and function differently. However, from an early age, some of them stand out for their aptitudes and ease of learning. When these early characteristics are identified in a child, the question of High Potential may arise. What really differentiates a child with high potential from a child with special needs or a child with a more conventional development?
It’s not always obvious whether your child seems a little ahead or is giftedin other words, a precocious child. As a first step, you can check whether his behavior corresponds to the characteristics of precocious children and has a positive or negative impact on his environment.
How do you identify an gifted child?
Like gifted adults precocious children have characteristics that distinguish them from their peers at an early age. If your child ticks almost all the boxes in the following list, then there’s a good chance he or she is gifted.
Characteristics of gifted children
- An exceptional language for its young age is the most obvious characteristic.
- A strong sense of injustice
- Many existential questions, especially on sensitive subjects when you’re a parent: death, the universe, evolution…
- More than a thousand ideas a second
- Strong creativity
- A very high degree of equal sensitivity between gifted girls and boys
- A lack of understanding of certain norms
- Great curiosity (which seems insatiable when you’re a parent!)
- Quick understanding of games, conversations and concepts
- Boredom if not constantly stimulated
- A sense of humor, astonishing for his young age
- A rapid need for autonomy
- Relationship difficulties with children his own age
- ADHD may be associated, 1 in 3 gifted children has ADD/ADHD
On the other hand, gifted children are emotionally dependent, just like their peers. In fact, it’s a particularity of these children. Intellectually, they are capable of reproducing by mimicry adult behavior, but on the other hand, they remain big babies in their emotional behaviour, even when they are adult! They are looking for approval validation and security in the eyes of adults, especially their parents, but also those around them, such as teachers.
What are the signs or symptoms of giftedness that can lead us to take a test?
Giftedness is not an illness, but a cognitive function present from birth. The word symptom is therefore inappropriate. As we saw earlier, we’re going to look for characteristics or signs suggestive of a possible Giftednessl.
How can I know if my child is precocious?
There are a number of clues that can tip you off. As with gifted adults, precocious children are very intense. Everything seems exaggerated, too much. Their sense of injustice is extremely strong. They’ll have trouble understanding why people are left to starve, why there are wars, why there are poor people… Why some people at school are mean… Sometimes all this injustice makes them angry.
Precocious children, injustice, anger and frustration
They accumulate this anger because they quickly understand that there is a powerlessness and fatality they can do nothing about. Then one day, if this anger is not expressed, if the questions remain unanswered, if the frustration becomes too strong, it explodes.
Precocious children feel this frustration because they feel powerless in the face of the world’s injustices and imagine (wrongly) that this is due to their young age. The fact that they are children prevents them from being able to act and fight against injustice. Unfortunately, you and I both know that even when you’re an adult adultwe suffer injustice, and our scope for action remains very limited in the face of pressure from the political, social, societal and capitalist world.
Our advice for dealing with frustration in gifted children
Despite all this, the anger stored up by these young children, as intelligent as they arehypersensitive, makes them as naive as they are manipulative. As a parent, their behavior can be disconcerting!
Our advice: to avoid frustration, explain why the world works the way it does, while highlighting the solutions.
For example: there are wars in the world, but there are good guys trying to win the war against the bad guys. In the past, the good guys have already won against the bad guys (World War II). So you explain reality by ending with hope. Precocious children are quite dichotomous in their functioning. It’s black or white. He may or may not understand the shades of gray later on.
What’s more, these kids have grown-up lie radars! Not a very practical superpower when you’re the parent! Try to explain as much as possible without lying. Find tricks, be ingenious.
Signs of a gifted child at home
At home, everything is much more intense when you’re the parent of a precocious child. The Gifted child is surprising, adorable and endearing, but he can also leave us speechless! He exhausts us as much as he can make us laugh.
A powerful brain in full development
Precocious children don’t master their super-powerful, rapidly developing brains. ” Gifted children have lots of ideas per second, and the speed between links is extremely fast. All these ideas give rise to mind-blowing creativity and a very strong artistic sense.” adds Catherine Vies Duffau, director of the Arborescence 31school, which specializes in neuro-atypical children.
Existential questions all the time
Some children ask a lot of questions and are curious by nature, but we notice that in gifted children , beyond curiosity, they ask existential questions that can be very mature for their age, even uncomfortable.
The “why” keeps coming back! When you’re the parent of a gifted child, you have to be very, very, VERY PATIENTS, and take the time to answer all these questions, because a precocious child won’t be satisfied with a simple “because“!
Great maturity and astonishing oral expression
Since these gifted children are generally very mature, it can be difficult for them to get along well with children their own age. Don’t be surprised if your little gifted child feels more at ease with children older than him or even if he prefers to take part in adult conversations rather than play with children his own age.
Spotting an precocious child at school
The majority of gifted children will have an easy time at school. In fact, it’s one of the first signs we spot. Difficulty at school is not a characteristic of precocious children.
The gifted child: great facility at school
Since precocious children are curious about everything, they generally love school! Especially if the teacher is able to stimulate them. His priority will be to learn more than to make friends. It’s in primary school (first grade to fifth grade) that the notion of belonging to a group and being loved will come to tickle him!
The majority of gifted children are highly adaptable and will find their place in an environment that does not adapt to them. Once he understands the system and what’s expected of him, his schooling will be just fine!
However, traditional methods don’t always correspond to the functioning of the precocious child. Indeed, HPI children ‘s need for meaning and depth may not be satisfied by the basic notions of the school curriculum if they don’t apply them to concrete projects. If that’s the case, or if things don’t go fast enough, he may be disappointed, and that’s when dropping out of school can happen.
If you find yourself in this situation with your gifted child, we suggest two solutions:
– go into more detail at home if your child is interested
– raise the awareness of teaching staff to enable them to progressively move him up to the next grade
The gifted child failing at school
If a gifted child has difficulties at school it can be because:
- he’s bored
- he doesn’t understand what’s expected of him
- a bad feeling with the teaching staff
- the teaching method is unsuited
- has one or more DYS disorders
We now know thatone in three gifted people has ADD/ADHD… We also know thatone in three gifted children will have difficulties at school…
If you find that your precocious child has too many difficulties and can’t adapt at all, you can turn to schools specialized in neurodiversity , such as Arborescences, MeeO, Montessori (Schools in France) These schools are known as “charter schools”, i.e. they are private and their annual cost is relatively high (around 5,000 euros), but sometimes, for your child’s well-being, it’s really worth it!
Gifted children and social difficulties
The fact that precocious children have a thousand ideas a second and want everything to happen very quickly can make them impatient. This can lead to frustration, aggression and awkwardness with others, children and adults included. From a very early age, they feel a profound discrepancy with others. They can see that they have more facility, that they understand and adapt more quickly. Other children their age seem like babies to them. This gap, combined with their extreme sensitivity, makes it difficult for them to relate to others.
What to remember if your child is gifted?
If your child is gifted, this can be a wonderful adventure for both you and him. All you have to do is help him decipher the world around him, so that he can find his place, even if he’s different.
If daily life is a little difficult, you can take him to see a psychologist specializing in High Potential. The psychologist will tell you whether your child should be tested with the WPPSI-IV (the giftedness test for children). The test is not compulsory, especially before the age of 6! If you suspect your child is precocious but he or she has no difficulties, you might as well leave him or her alone…
We would also like to inform you that giftedness is genetic. If your child is gifted, there’s a good chance that one or more people in your family are too!
On Suivez le Zèbre, you’ll find plenty of tools and information to help you learn new things about the subject!
Écrit par une HPI !
Un témoignage et des solutions concrètes pour découvrir, comprendre et apprendre à vivre en étant HPI.
To go further, you can read
- Testimonial, my journey as a gifted child at school
- Extracurricular activities and the zebra child
- I am gifted, I live it well and I have not failed at school.
- Our advice on living well with giftedness
- Our tips for living with giftedness
- Personal development to be a zen gifted person
- Managing hypersensitivity when you’re gifted
- The best books about High Learning Potential
- Characteristics of High Potential
- Testimony of Julie, mother of a happy zebra family