Any discussion of gifted children should probably begin with the statement that in one way or another all children are special. Each child is unique, and each child will give a parent both joys and challenges. What defines being gifted in more common usage tends to refer to high IQ, learning skills like reading long before other children, or displaying a special proclivity toward a certain artistic ability. A child like Mozart for instance, was composing music before he was five. Other children may have extraordinary perception in mathematical skills, or just perform well on standardized tests. Being gifted has numerous definitions, and it is important to remember that a child who doesn't meat the specific criteria is just as special as one who does.
For the sake of standard definitions, we can examine some aspects of giftedness. The child may reach developmental milestones in infancy far earlier than his or her peers. For example, some children talk fluently at six to eight months, or learn to walk and crawl long before their first birthday. The child may learn to read, count or do mathematical calculations long before reaching school age. Tests of IQ normally show the extremely gifted child with an IQ measurement over 140. Children with an IQ between 120-140 may be considered moderately gifted.
Young gifted children may also exhibit hypersensitivity and be difficult to please. They may become frustrated or bored easily, and since they often think outside the box, they may find lots of new and creative ways to cause hazards to themselves. These children tend to exhibit intense curiosity, soaking up new knowledge like a sponge.
Some children may show interest in philosophical issues. They may be highly sensitive to hearing the news, and may be more disturbed by news that depicts suffering or death. They often have intense fears and may exhibit excessive “existentialist” interest in death.
Giftedness may be limited to one area of development. A child may be an early reader but show poor gross motor coordination, taking longer to learn to ride a bike. They also may resist activities that they can’t immediately do well. Since many children are praised for these special qualities, they may have anxieties about not performing perfectly, and will refuse to do things they can’t do well.
Some gifted children are also socially challenged. If they have advanced vocabularies and interests, relationships with their peers may be boring to the child. It is not unusual for a gifted child to struggle with forming friendships, because their active minds are often identified as having learning disabilities like ADD or ADHD. Generally, these children are not truly hyperactive, but their attention span may not be held by grade level material.
Though most gifted children are motivated to learn, they may be only motivated to learn on the subjects that interest them. This can also lead to classroom boredom, which is actually helpful to the child. Teaching such a child to work outside his/her realm of interest and fulfill requirements of a school, or in the home, is a valuable life lesson.
Other gifted children are extremely motivated to learn and excel. Fear of failure can lead to anxiety, and self-criticism can be very high. Even a supportive parental environment may not stop the child from having very rigid standards regarding personal performance. Pushing the child to excel can be equally as damaging because it never allows the child the chance to learn by failing, or to understand that failure is a necessary part of life.
One can get a child tested for gifted qualities; in some cases children as young as three or four are tested for giftedness. The results of these tests will fall into the defined parameters of the testing center. Even if a child is not considered gifted by one test, he or she may be considered so by another.
However, if all tests show a child not to be gifted, as a parent you still may see your child as special. He or she has his or her own unique qualities and will gift the world with his or her individual prospective. Many parents find these sufficient reasons to consider their children both wonderful and special.