Is There a GT Kid in the House?

Does your child incessantly ask questions?  Is your child compelled to take the simplest of tasks and create a new design or way of doing it?  Does your child have an intense internal drive to learn things?  Does your child seem to know how to do things before they were taught?  If so, you may have a gifted and talented (GT) kid in the house.

A mom recently told me a story about her almost four-year-old son.  They were in the car talking about the concept of backwards.  He said, “Mommy, did you know my name spelled backwards is W-E-R-D-N-A?”  She explained how impressed she was with his knowledge.  I responded to this story by wishing her “good luck!”  When she looked at me puzzled, I explained that raising a GT kid can be an extremely demanding task.

Gifted and talented children make up only 3-5 percent of the general population.  The National Association of Gifted Children defines gifted as a person who “shows, or has the potential for showing, an exceptional level of performance” in one or more of the following areas: general intellectual ability; specific academic aptitude; creative thinking; leadership ability; and visual and performing arts.  This definition encompasses a wide range of abilities, intelligence is thought of most often.  A child with an IQ above 130 is considered GT.

Often, people are confused at the difference between a high achieving child and a gifted child.  In most children’s development, the physical, cognitive, social, and emotional areas all progress at the same rate.  In a high achieving child, all of these areas are advanced.  Simply put, the high achiever is good at everything.  Often with a GT child, what we see is they are incredibly advanced in one or two areas, but the other areas lag behind their peers.  Here are a few more differences:

High Achievers Verses Gifted Learners
Knows the answers Asks the questions
Enjoys a straightforward, sequential  plan Thrives on complexity
Works hard Plays around, yet tests well
“What do I need to do to get an A?” “What is the purpose of the assignment?”
Enjoys peers Prefers older students or adults

There is a widespread myth that GT children do not have behavioral problems.  In reality there are four areas that get GT kids into trouble.

  1. Intensity – They often get “tunnel vision” and forget what they should be doing.
  2. Sensitivity – They often empathize too much with peers, get their feelings hurt, and take criticism very personally.
  3.  Multi-potentiality – Where they can pay attention to several things at one time, they can also have trouble making decisions.
  4. Extra Energy – They often require less sleep than their peers.  This extra energy causes them to prefer fast paced activities and they tend to interrupt others in an attempt to speed up the conversation.

In conclusion, if you come home to find that your kid has disassembled the toaster oven and he/she has reconfigured the parts to create a whole new toaster oven, there are two wise parenting responses.  First, verify that the fire extinguishers are in working order and readily available.  Second, contact your child’s school to have them tested for the GT program.