All parents think their child is exceptionally intelligent. But when little Judy or Jack brings home their kindergarten school work, you realize your child is smart, but not necessarily exceptional. There’s a big difference, and extraordinary intelligence in a child usually shows up at an early age. So, what are ten signs you’re the parent of a brilliant child?
First signs of extreme intelligence in your child
Small children can show early signs of extreme intelligence. You may not even be aware of these things in your infant until you compare your child with other kids of the same age, or your pediatrician notices it. First signs that you have a child of high intelligence include
- They’re very alert as an infant.
- They have a long attention span as a toddler or infant.
- They have language development.
- These children have motor skill development.
- They are ambidextrous at some point early on.
- They have imaginary playmates.
- These children speak early first words around nine months.
- They read early, completing easy reading before the age of four.
- These children start showing a sense of humor at a very early age.
Here are some things to look out for if you suspect your child is brilliant (literally!).
If your child is exceptionally intelligent, there’s a good chance they will be early readers. Some of these children are reading by the time they’re three with little or no teaching. This aptitude is often because they also have great memories and have memorized many words they’ve seen in books or from hearing you read to them.
Early reading is often a significant indicator that your child is a genius. They will have an insatiable appetite to read. You may need to make them stop reading so they can eat their meals or go to bed. Finding age-appropriate books can be challenging. Turn to some old classics for challenging yet age-appropriate reading materials. These classic books are often overlooked at schools, but provide a rich source of learning for your child.a
Here’s a list of ten tried-and-true classics your young, exceptionally intelligent child may enjoy reading (depending on the age/ability).
- Treasure Island
- Peter Pan
- Swiss Family Robinson
- The Hundred Dresses
- Danny the Champion of the World
- Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
- Where the Red Fern Grows
- Poppers Penguins
- The Adventures of Robin Hood
- Pippi Longstocking
Creative when playing alone
Children love to play, but exceptionally intelligent children are uniquely imaginative when it comes to playing alone. They often create an imaginary friend. Although this is common to all kids, gifted children are exceptionally creative.
One gifted boy told his father that a former United States president was his imaginary friend. Gifted kids are apt to create little worlds based on what they read or see. Studies found that kids who have an imaginary companion have an imaginative ability. They are better at storytelling, more prone to fantasy, and often explain things as magical.
A highly intelligent child displays curiosity.
Gifted kids are curious about everything around them. They have a curious mind and tend to question everything. They want knowledge. You find yourself feeling overwhelmed by their questions, especially when their problems are beyond what you know. This is a great time to pull out books on the topics they’re most interested in. Show them how to search for answers in safe, online sites like Britannica Kids, National Geographic for Kids, or the World Book online.
When exceptionally intelligent kids find a subject, they’re interested in. They want to know everything about it. They’ll persist in asking questions about it, reading about it and talking about it. They’re persistent in problem-solving. They’re committed to finding answers. They have an incredible amount of energy and devotion to these topics. One boy loved learning about World War II. He read every book he could find on the subject, then he wrote his 200-page war novel at the age of 8, using the information he’d learned as the backdrop for his fiction work.
Your exceptionally intelligent child may be extremely creative. Studies show that creative people can come up with novel ways to solve problems, while smart people solve a problem in a more logical way. The relationship between intelligence and creativity isn’t understood by scientists, but it seems prevalent when a child is particularly smart.
This creativity makes your child comfortable thinking outside the box and inventive. Your child may be extremely original in their thinking. Exceptionally intelligent kids can exhibit these artistic qualities:
- Being independent with their ideas
- Comes up with creative stories, sometimes based on real or unreal events
- Can find many creative solutions
- Great imagination
- Great at improvisation
- Doesn’t bother them that they’re different
- May be distracted by all their ideas.
- Has his or her schedule
- Maybe a risk-taker in some areas.
- Daydreaming about their ideas
Your gifted child may have an incredible memory for facts and figures. Some gifted kids memorize phone numbers or car license numbers just for fun. They’re like a walking book stating information they’ve read verbatim. They often can memorize math facts and spelling words after seeing them just once.
Be careful what you promise your child because they will remember it and bug you until you do what you promised.
An unusually intelligent child might also be highly sensitive.
Gifted kids may be highly sensitive. This sensitivity means that they are keenly aware of their feelings and other people’s feelings.
They are also sensitive to touch. Thus, they dislike scratchy clothing or tags on the inside of their shirts. They don’t like socks with seams or a chair that’s too hard or soft. This characteristic can be challenging for a parent, but it’s part of who your child is. Adapt to their preferences as much as possible without overly catering to every whim.
Don’t be surprised if your exceptionally intelligent child is given to meltdowns. They get frustrated easily when they must stop doing something they like, or they feel like you’re not listening to them. They don’t understand why they need to stop reading because it’s so important to them. They’ll tell you why you should let them do what they want. They are secure in their opinions and persuasive in their arguments.
Good sense of humor
Gifted kids are funny. They crack jokes and puns all the time. Coupled with their constant talking and questioning, these comedians can take over a class as the class clown. Teachers find them delightful and distracting. They like to make their teachers crack up over their jokes while the other kids miss the point entirely.
May seem impertinent
Highly intelligent kids seem old for their age. Because they’re so verbal and have a vast vocabulary, they like to interact with adults at their level. They are sometimes perceived as rude or impertinent when they correct an adult’s mistake or ask personal questions. They are often viewed as impolite, but usually, they’re just curious or being funny.
Because of their ability to think abstractly, adults treat them as if they were older, but gifted kids are still kids. They can lack emotional development. One minute, they’re talking to you about a complicated physics problem they finished, and then they’re having a meltdown because they don’t want to eat their broccoli.
If you are the parent of a highly intelligent child, you will be amazed at your child’s incredible vocabulary and their ability to think logically. They’ll stump you with their questions and talk your ear off about everything they’re learning. You’ll be challenged to keep them intellectually stimulated with good books and activities. Take them to museums, gardens, historical sites, and on walks through the woods. Give them lots of different experiences to enhance their learning experience.
Guide your child in social situations. Tell them they must be polite even when they’re curious-it’s just never polite to ask the store clerk how many times she’s pooped today. Be prepared for an adventure as you watch your child continue to learn and grow, solving problems adults can’t and finding the most out of the box kind of solutions to problems. Also, be prepared to love them and accept them as they struggle to understand life. Be their support and sounding block when they’re sad or confused.
Don’t coddle them or tell always tell them how smart they are. This creates a self-centered kid who feels entitled. Teach them to think about others, to share, and to be ready to help.
Most of all, enjoy who your child not for their intelligence, but as a wonderful kid who’s growing into a responsible, kind person.