5 Characteristics of Exceptionally Gifted Children

Having an exceptionally gifted chidlren or highly capable children at home or at school can be challenging. How can you help them?
5 Characteristics of Exceptionally Gifted Children

Written by Thady Carabaño

Last update: 26 May, 2022

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 2% of children are exceptionally gifted. Therefore, gifted children are in your family, school, and community.

Sadly, the education system or specialists in psychology or psychopedagogy don’t always recognize exceptionally gifted children, and few receive the attention that they need to stimulate and reach their potential. Furthermore, if they’re girls or come from a family of low socio-economic status, they’re even more difficult to identify.

Additionally, there are many more myths and false beliefs about this condition that go unseen. Or, even worse, they’re falsely diagnosed as having Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) (with or without hyperactivity), bipolar disorder, or Asperger’s Syndrome.

How to Detect Gifted Children

Gifted Children

Many specialists agree that to know if a child is gifted, they must be 5 or 6 years old. However, others say signs appear between 2 and 4 years.

Also, it’s common to confuse high academic performance with an exceptionally gifted child. Although a gifted child may seem very intelligent, it’s a very distinct intelligence. A gifted child may get mediocre grades, but not actually bad ones.

Unfortunately, people frequently interpret the main characteristics of gifted children poorly. According to the clinical psychologist Linda Kreger Silverman, founder of the Gifted Development Center in Denver, U.S.A, exceptionally gifted children have certain qualities. They:

  • Give intelligent explanations to not do chores or because they don’t want to go to school
  • Have a high capacity to create stories or brilliant jokes or puns
  • Ask and cross-question intelligently, often leaving their parents or teachers speechless
  • Dedicate themselves to an activity that they’re passionate about
  • Do habitual things in an unusual way
  • Are aware of things that are unfair ad defend those that can’t defend themselves
  • Are capable of keeping calm in moments of chaos

Fundamental Characteristic: Overexcitement

Oftentimes, educators and psychologists are unaware of the overexcitement that gifted children have in different aspects of their development. Therefore, this often causes misdiagnosis.

In this regard, an article published in The Communicator magazine discusses the following types of overexcitability that gifted children would experience:

1. Psychomotor Overexcitement

Gifted children move around when they feel bored. They appear to have attention problems and episodes of hyperactivity. Consequently, t heir verbal or physical agitation makes it seem like they may suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD). 

When the child wants to do a job, or immerses themselves in something that fascinates or attracts them, they concentrate more than most children at that age. They forget everything around them.

However, they can also become frustrated if they don’t achieve what they want to. It’s an emotion that we must help them learn to manage.

2. Overactive Intellect

Exceptionally gifted children are voraciously curious. Sometimes, they’ll becomes obsessed and spend all of their energy on one thing.

Overactive Intellect

This curiosity can sometimes make it difficult for their parents to understand them. Therefore, sometimes specialists may think they have Asperger’s Syndrome.

3. Overactive Emotions

The parents frequently describe their gifted child as being “very intense and extreme” or that they “explode with happiness.”

  • Because they’re very emotional, their emotions could give them an advantage as adults. However, in childhood they could recieve a bipolar disorder diagnosis, even though they’re far from it.
  • Their sensitivity may make them cry over a character in a movie or worry about social justice issues, violence, or environmental concerns. Thus, they have a social conscience.

4. Overactive Senses

Often, the tags in their clothes, the noise in the classroom, certain smells, or loud noises bother them. These sensations can have such invasive consequences that they can’t think about anything else.

Generally, neither parents nor teachers understand this extreme sensitivity. They see these kids as being crazywhen in reality, they can’t help it.

5. Overactive Imagination

Exceptionally gifted children seem to “live in their own world”. They easily invent, fantasize, create situations and imaginary friends to escape boredom that, for example, they feel at school.

In this flight of imagination, they can begin to confuse reality and fiction. Usually, they draw, write, or imagine stories. The goal is to distract themselves from a reality that isn’t as attractive and stimulating.


What if I have a gifted child?

Even with all the activity you expose children to during pregnancy or early childhood, you can’t create a gifted child. On the contrary, exceptionally gifted children are born that way.

So, if you think your child falls into this category, you must overcome your own fears and prejudice. Indeed, your child is different. Therefore, you need to help them manage it and help them reach their potential.

Finding out and developing these differences is a big challenge, and they may surprise family members, teachers, and psychologists that are used to “what’s normal.” Therefore, you need to help your child be happy, not perfect, just like all kids.

It doesn’t make sense to isolate an exceptionally gifted child. Don’t try to put them with only kids just like them. In reality, very few countries have specialized educational programs for these types of kids.

Help them adjust to the traditional school system, teach them how to make friends. Also, give them additional options to help them reach their full potential.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.