Is Your Child Exceptionally Talented or Gifted?

Is Your Child Exceptionally Talented or Gifted?

10 May 2021
Posted by: Chelsea

Having an exceptionally talented child can be a wonderful but also sometimes intimidating prospect. It can also be both rewarding and challenging in terms of your wider family relationships.

What does “gifted” mean?

Scientists have been arguing about and trying to define the concept of “gifted” for at least 200 years.

At one time, a gifted child was largely seen as being one with artistic talents such as music, painting and poetry etc. There was then a shift in the later 19th through to the mid-20th century towards “gifted” meaning good at IQ tests, which were often maths or puzzle-solving related.

Over more recent decades, those attempts to try to compartmentalise “talented/gifted” based upon firm definitions and measures have been largely abandoned in favour of much softer and holistic approaches. They recognise a wide range of children’s attributes and skills, focusing less on thresholds of specific achievement.

Broadly speaking, if a child appears to be significantly ahead of what might be called a “typical development curve”, they may be gifted. That might mean they are able to paint, read, sing, play music, socialise/empathise with others or do maths (etc.) to levels some years ahead of most other children of a similar age.

How this might affect a family

There are absolutely no firm rules here and every single case is likely to be different.

However, gifted children in the home may place additional challenges upon parents:

  • they may require more attention and intellectual stimulation, than other children. This can be very tiring for parents. There is also a risk that other siblings might accidentally receive reduced parental attention as a result – something to be guarded against at all costs
  • parents may be quickly outpaced by their child’s ability in that specific area. That can be challenging emotionally for parents and the child concerned. This can only be overcome with affection and good humour;
  • sometimes issues can arise between gifted children and their siblings. The gifted child may start to ‘look down’ on their siblings or conversely, the other children may simply become jealous and hostile towards their talented brother/sister. Parents need to look carefully for this and take steps to remedy it should it arise;
  • language can be a problem if parents constantly refer to a child as “special” or “gifted” and other siblings hear this. It’s probably best to use language such as “good at” and a specific subject and make sure other children are also described as being “good at” things too;
  • watch out for children in this category becoming insular and isolated from other children in school. That might happen if the school isn’t in tune with the special needs of such pupils but also the extra work sometimes required to help gifted youngsters to integrate with others. At Read2Grow we always work hard to ensure all children are engaged;
  • be cautious about pushing your talented child beyond their advanced development path. Even the most gifted children have limits to how much they can assimilate at a time and parental pressure to constantly excel can be damaging. Linked to this, remember that even gifted children are still children in all areas apart from the one where they might have special abilities. Leave time for them to be themselves and play as ordinary kids;
  • don’t forget that early indications of special talents don’t always continue into later life. Never show disappointment if your gifted child seemingly loses interest and starts to conform to normal development curves.


The causes of being gifted as a child are still poorly understood, though it is assumed this is largely genetics.Whatever the cause, having a talented child is a wonderful thing if it is accommodated within a loving family framework.

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