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Understanding Psychology of Gifted Children

Dr. Abby Campbell is a Naturopathic Doctor & President of 911 Body ResQ, an online store providing organic and non-GMO supplements.

Abby Campbell, BSc, SFN, SSN, CPT, is a leading professional fitness and nutrition expert, researcher, and published author of "One Size Does NOT Fit All Diet Plan," one of Amazon's Top Gluten-Free and Weight Loss Diets. She is also a mother of three children - all labeled as either autistic, gifted, or creatively artistic. (You may read more about Abby at the bottom of this article.)

Poll: Gifted Children

"Parents' love for their children is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law or pity, It crushes down all things that stand in its path."

Very little touches the parent's heart more than to have children who are healthy in every aspect. With a world that is more knowledgeable and skilled than the previous generation, we parents want our children to receive the best education, street smarts, and the ability "to make it" better than we did. We want our children to grow up to be happy and successful adults.

As our babies grow from infancy to tiny babbling tots, we have dreams of how they will be. In our mind's eye, we see them gracefully dancing in their first ballet recital or scoring a touchdown at their first peewee football game. We even dream of them bringing home their report cards with all As. But, what happens when they aren't athletically inclined or hate sports? What if they actually brought home Cs, Ds, or Fs? What if they weren't like "normal" children but displayed idiosyncrasies? Or, what if they could read fluently at the age of four or played the piano like Beethoven at the age of 10? You most likely wouldn't be disappointed to have a child prodigy on your hands, but what if they couldn't display their great creativity and giftedness and only displayed bad or awkward behaviors and emotions?

The gifts and talents of children don't always show through because internal conflicts may be blocking their ability to show forth their strengths or gifts. Their struggle may be as simple as a new sibling being born into the family. Or, they may not know how to deal emotionally with the separation or divorce of the parents they trust more than anything in this world. Other traumatic events may include personal illness or death of a close loved one. Children may even be labeled as hyperactive or inattentive in school, but they may not be receiving the stimulation they need to learn. They may even be bullied by their peers because "they are different."

You may not understand the battles your child may be struggling with internally. Helplessness is a normal feeling for parents as we want to see our children happy. Find out if your children are gifted or talented and how you may help them fly their wings beyond the greatest horizon.

Gifted children come in a variety of forms.

Gifted children come in a variety of forms.

Official Definition of Gifted Children

"Students, children, or youth who give evidence of high achievement capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields, and who need services and activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop those capabilities."

~Maryland Report to Congress (1972, the first report that defined "gifted" children)

Intensity In Gifted Children

Characteristics of Gifted Children

There aren't two gifted children who are the same as each is unique as any other human on earth. However, there are certain characteristics that are generally seen within gifted children according to the National Association of Gifted Children. Below are just some of the more common signs your child may be gifted. Not all characteristics are listed, nor will all children display every single characteristic. In fact, some children may display strengths in some of these areas while showing weaknesses in others.

Alertness: Gifted children seem to be a bit over the top with their senses. While holding an infant, she may not be able to rest her head on your shoulder for long as she constantly looks up and around. Small children (ages 3-7) may seem extraordinarily curious and constantly ask "Why?" to everything. Middle and high school children may cover their ears when they go out to busy stores as the noise is amplified to them. They may even seem paranoid as they feel everyone is watching them.

Excellent Memory & Rapid Learning: Some gifted children can quickly put thoughts together and sometimes even come up with solutions that most people don't think about. Many use rote memorization to learn. Small children may begin reading fluently at ages 3-5 (some even younger). Middle and high schoolers may seem obsessively compulsive with a particular subject.

Complex Sentence Structure & Extensive Vocabulary: Toddlers may begin speaking full sentences at early ages, even as young as one. Elementary, middle, or high school students may use peculiar words that most people don't even use or understand; they comprehend an unusually large vocabulary.

Enjoyment of Problem Solving: Gifted children tend to be mathematically inclined, enjoying the solving of numbers, problems, and puzzles. Remember the 1988 Academy Award winning movie, Rain Man, where actor Dustin Hoffman played the character Raymond? He was a mathematical genius who could count toothpicks dropped on the floor in a matter of seconds!

High Concentration: Children with giftedness may seem like daydreamers as they think deeply and intensely. Seeming to be in their own little world, they intensely concentrate on topics harder and longer than mainstream children. While conversations may have passed, gifted children may seem "stuck" on those topics as they bring them back up in an untimely fashion.

Unusual Mannerisms: While mainstream children may color an object with one colored crayon, gifted children may use several or even a dozen colors for that same object. They may even color in lines. Older children may put unusual ideas together that most people don't think about.

Categorizations: Gifted children may have a desire to categorize people and things in unusual ways. For instance, they may want to categorize all people who wear red shirts as one type of people. Due to their complex minds, they may even recall movie characters from shows they watched years ago who wore red shirts.

Other characteristics may include a vivid imagination, an unusual sense of humor, and a strong sense of justice.

Help your child maximize his or her gifts and talents.

Help your child maximize his or her gifts and talents.

Definition of Psychology

"Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. The discipline embraces all aspects of the human experience — from the functions of the brain to the actions of nations, from child development to care for the aged. In every conceivable setting from scientific research centers to mental healthcare services, 'the understanding of behavior' is the enterprise of psychologists."

~American Psychological Association

Child Psychology and Gifted Testing

Child psychology obviously focuses on the development of children, and it is one of the most frequently studied areas of psychology. This particular area's interest is with prenatal development all the way through to the growing adolescent. Child psychologists follow children's physical, mental, emotional, and social development. They look at things that affect the behavior of children from prenatal development, genetics, environmental influences, culture, social class, and education.

Gifted IQ testing provides information on the child's strengths and weaknesses to help determine educational needs. It will also determine if the child should qualify for gifted schools or classes; gifted children will be more stimulated in these environments and be able to use their talents better. If the child has any learning disabilities, the gifted IQ test will also determine this so that help can be sought. Results of the IQ test will help the parent advocate for the child on appropriate educational needs or accommodations.

Private tests conducted by psychologists are fairly expensive, ranging from $200 to $800 or more. Therefore, many parents choose to take a free online test to evaluate the likelihood that their child is gifted before going to a psychologist for a formal gifted assessment. There are only a few screening tests available online, among these the most comprehensive is the free online gifted test developed by psychologist Dr. Tali Shenfield, who is an expert in gifted education and learning disabilities.

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About the Author

Abby Campbell, BSc, SFN, SSN, CPT, is a leading professional fitness and nutrition expert, researcher, published author, and a naturopathic doctorate candidate. For more than a decade, she has coached thousands of women locally and online to lose body fat and lead healthy lifestyles. Hundreds have also consulted with her on gluten- and lactose-free diets due to health concerns such as Celiacs, depression, and developmental disabilities. Abby is from Northern Virginia but now resides near Charlotte, North Carolina. She has been married for more than 20 years and has three grown daughters, one of which is autistic. She is a 20+ year cancer survivor.


Dr Abby Campbell (author) from Charlotte, North Carolina on January 20, 2015:

Thank you, Adrianna, for your comment. I completely agree with you. There are even young adults who can't find their niche, so it's definitely helpful if parents can figure out what their children's gifts are while they are young. Taking the free online test can surely be a step in the right direction, while then providing them with stimulating activities that may trigger what their children's niches are. :-)

Dr Abby Campbell (author) from Charlotte, North Carolina on January 20, 2015:

Thanks for commenting, aesta1. I'm sure it is difficult with 30-40 kids in the classroom. Hopefully, parents can also help the teachers by providing stimulating activities when their children aren't within the classroom setting. :-)

Adrianna Rose from Asheville on January 18, 2015:

Very useful observations to pick up on! Often times, kids don't find their niche to excel in until very late, so these are very helpful.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on January 18, 2015:

It is really hard to categorize kids but it is Los very helpful when teachers are able to help parents identify the gifted ones. The other challenge is how to challenge them especially when you have 30 or 40 in the class.

Dr Abby Campbell (author) from Charlotte, North Carolina on January 06, 2015:

Thanks for commenting, Dr. Kidd. What a gift! :-)

Dr Billy Kidd from Sydney, Australia on January 06, 2015:

When I taught music and singing, I noticed that gifted child musicians can grasp 3 or 4 things at a time. And they'll write their first song within a year of starting an instrument.

Dr Abby Campbell (author) from Charlotte, North Carolina on January 06, 2015:

Thank you, Bill. I appreciate your comment! :-)

Dr Abby Campbell (author) from Charlotte, North Carolina on January 06, 2015:

Eric - I tend to agree with you. Each is unique and display talents in different ways.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on January 06, 2015:

Great information, Abby, and as a former teacher I can say that you are right on!

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on January 06, 2015:

Very interesting hub. I just tend to think of all children as gifted in some way. Especially my own ;-)

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