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Highly gifted children: behaviour and main characteristics

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Highly gifted children are not easy to recognise. There is no single theory or homogeneous description that specifically defines high intellectual abilities.

Highly gifted children are not easy to recognise. There is no single theory or homogeneous description that specifically defines high intellectual abilities. These children usually present behaviours or symptoms in the early primary school years, but they become suspicious in the infant stage. In order to support children with high intellectual abilities and their parents, we at O Castro British International School will try to list their behaviours and main characteristics in order to facilitate their recognition and to refine the support that can be offered. There are some indicators that should lead us to suspect that a child has a more advanced cognitive development than that which corresponds to his or her age.

15 behaviours of children with high abilities

We begin the list with a series of characteristics to recognise a child with high abilities. It is a brief record of indicative behaviours for those parents who have the fly behind their ears. First, it should be pointed out that the diagnosis of a child with high abilities usually comes with a series of psychological tests. Do not hesitate to seek support and guidance from an Educational Psychology and Student Counselling Departments.
 
At around 12 to 18 months, a highly able child may show signs of language development, a very early age to start speaking. They start pronouncing many words and are soon able to carry on a conversation with vocabulary and lexis typical of much later stages.

They also tend to start learning specific skills such as reading, writing or mathematics earlier than their peers do. A common behaviour among highly able children is that they learn autonomously and manage to extrapolate their knowledge to other areas quite naturally.

Highly able children tend to be very observant and curious. Prematurely, they begin to concern themselves with abstract and transcendent subjects, such as the origin of life and the universe, death, religion, etc. Their artistic creations and constructions can be very rich and creative.

In the same vein, highly able children can be hypersensitive and emotionally very intense. Their emotional reactions are disproportionate to the situations they experience. A common characteristic of highly able children is that they have an asynchrony between the mental and the emotional. This causes the adults around them to confuse their emotional reaction with their intellectual maturity, which generates an overexertion on the part of the environment.

Children with high abilities tend to be energetic and active. They can be very agile and climbing children. Therefore, a common behaviour may be that they feel frustration at inactivity or lack of progress. They have a great capacity for concentration, especially in tasks that capture their interest. They are persistent in their goals. Logical thinking and reason predominate in them.

They also tend to question any authority, trying to impose their criteria, showing great resistance to instructions or input from parents or teachers. This common behaviour among highly gifted children is because they demand a lot of themselves and others, thus provoking the need to succeed, being very vulnerable to failure and, on occasions, and feeling rejected by their peers.

Another of the frequent characteristics of children with high abilities is that they can become obsessive in their behaviour, making them very rigid and inflexible.

Finally, it is important to point out that these fifteen main behaviours and characteristics of gifted children are not exclusive, so if your child presents several of the symptoms described above and you have any suspicions, do not hesitate to seek help. There may be a situation where a child with high abilities does not meet 100% of the situations. Good guidance with love and patience will make your child shine.

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