5 signs your kid is ‘highly gifted,’ according to neuroscience experts—‘they’re not always well-behaved’

 Is your child a genius? This is a question that many parents often think about.

I manage student applications at the Davidson Institute, where we've helped thousands of gifted kids (or kids who score in the 99.9th percentile on IQ tests) reach their highest potential. Previously, I taught humanities for almost a decade.

Many gifted children are able to learn and process information faster than children their age and grasp several grade levels ahead of their peers.

But they are not always well-behaved, high-achieving students. In fact, neuroscientists say that every child is gifted differently.

Unexpected signs that your child is very gifted

Asynchronous development

Does your gifted child struggle with simple tasks like tying her shoelaces or brushing her teeth?

These are some examples of asynchronous development - or some areas developing faster than others. This is normal for gifted children.

A gifted 8-year-old child may exhibit the reading skills of a 7th grader, the math ability of a 5th grader, the social skills at their grade level, and the emotional regulation of a much younger student.

Emotional depth and sensitivity at a young age

Neuroscientists suggest that gifted children experience more intense emotional responses to the world around them.

For example, they may find it difficult to enjoy a performance where a character is hurt or sad. Most people have a high sense of justice and can feel depressed and helpless when a situation is perceived as unfair.

Because of their asynchronous development, they may not yet have the emotional regulation skills to navigate those big feelings.

Existential questions

Gifted children often have an insatiable curiosity, especially about the existential aspects of life.

They are more concerned about issues like death, poverty, climate change and injustice than their peers. For example, a film or book made for children that deals with bullying can also make them question the nature of society.

The question "What happens when we die?" "Why do bad things happen in the world?"

Special interests or a mature sense of humor

When a student is doing advanced chemistry or studying mass transit maps of major cities, parents sometimes worry that they are missing out on their child's childhood or not "having kids."

In fact, their children may have a more advanced understanding of a subject than others their age.

Achieved less in school

Gifted children need constant mental stimulation. In school, they learn things faster than their peers so they get bored easily.

When school is not challenging or interesting enough, they may lose their motivation. (Consider how you feel after an eight-hour shift where you're not challenged or engaged.)

Although they can do things easily - they often have excellent reasoning skills and memory - they see no point and stop trying.

Gifted children have enormous potential

At its core, giftedness is a brain-based difference that contributes to our energetic and intellectually diverse world.

Exploring this further in your child will give you a better understanding of who they are and give them better resources to reach their full potential.

See if your state has a gifted organization with local resources and testing options, or use the Davidson Institute's Map of Award-Winning Testers and Therapists to find professionals in your area.

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